Vacationing on a Budget: Tips for Cutting Some Costs
It may still be fairly early in the year but it’s not too early to start thinking about booking a vacation. Taking a break from your stressful work life is not only fun but can also be essential to your physical and mental health. The problem is that traveling can often be expensive and overspending on vacation can lead to even more stress upon your return.
Luckily there are some ways to save money on your trips. In many cases a little research can go a long way. Here are three tips for cutting the cost of your vacation:
Bid but bid smart
You’re likely familiar with sites that let you “bid” on hotel rooms, flights, and rental cars. This often scares travelers who may be sensitive to location, amenities, or may be brand loyal. While it’s never a sure thing, there are ways to help ensure that you book what you want at a nice discount.
The first tip is to use multiple sites. For example Hotwire.com often lists hotels by their price, amenities, and general location but the name of property isn’t revealed until after your (nonrefundable) booking. Coupling Hotwire with a site like Expedia may allow you to decipher which hotels are which or at least narrow it down. Likewise you can customize Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” option to mirror a hotel you have your eye on and see if you can secure a deal. Hotwire will also sometimes run airline specials where the same methods can be applied and could score you a fantastic deal.
Is it a business trip? Can it be?
Obviously on your trip the last thing you want to think about is work. However, if you can legitimately accomplish business on your trip, you may be able to write at least part of your vacation off on your taxes. Perhaps you have a client you could meet with near your destination? A vendor you could follow up with? Maybe your company is looking to expand and could use some location scouting?
First the bad news: in order to write off expenses as a business trip the majority of it trip needs to involve business. The good news is that travel days and weekends sandwiched in between business days count. So in theory you could fly somewhere on Thursday, take meetings on Friday and Monday and then enjoy four relaxing days in your location and still retain a majority. Just be sure to set up your business in advance and follow these IRS guidelines for more information.
To rent or to Uber?
For most people it’s probably a given that you’ll rent a car in whatever city you plan on visiting. But thanks to ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft it may actually be more cost effective to forgo a rental and just request a ride whenever you’re looking to go out. Whether or not it makes more sense to rent a car or Uber (used as a verb in this case) around will clearly depend on your itinerary but be sure to calculate expenses such as gas, hotel parking/other parking fees, and insurance in addition to the base rate of the rental when determining which is a better deal. You can also visit uber.com/ride to generate some fare estimates before you go to help with your decision. Lastly be aware that, while these companies are growing rapidly, they are not yet in every market so be sure to inquire about availability beforehand.
Hopefully at least one of these travel cost-cutting tips will work for you. Of course it’s important not to overindulge on your vacation and essentially give back all the savings you worked hard to obtain but you should spend enough to allow yourself to truly relax. So where are you off to?