Thursday, June 13, 2013

Vacation of Your Dreams on a Budget {Part 1}

My family recently had the opportunity to go an amazing beach vacation in Destin, Florida. It was well timed as we haven't really left town for the past two years. Budget and vacation....those two words don't seem to go together do they? "But Lili, I'm going on vacation to forget all my worries! I don't want to care about money while I'm there!!" I hear you! But if you take some time to plan ahead, you can save some serious money and hopefully get to do everything you want to do on vacation.

I can assure you that you CAN have the vacation of your dreams and STILL come home with money to spare!

Before Trip Savings:

1. Garage Sale. We had a major garage sale about a month before our vacation. We live in one of those neighborhoods where someone is always having a yard sale and the foot traffic is constant throughout the weekends. Not only did we make great money, but we cleaned out the garage!! More money in my pocket AND a clean house.....YES PLEASE!! If you've never tried having a garage sale, I highly recommend it. It is a lot of work, but so worth it in the end. Our garage sale money paid for ALL of our gas to and from Florida...about $350 worth. Not bad!

2. Drive. Unless you find a seriously amazing deal on airfare, driving will be your best money-saving transportation option. Make sure you (or an honest mechanic) do a thorough inspection of the car BEFORE you leave. Oil change, tire repairs, etc will help ensure you don't break down on the way. If your car won't make it to your destination, car rental will still most likely be cheaper than airfare for your whole family. Driving can be so fun with the family as well. We don't have an ipad, portable dvd player, or any other fancy electronic distraction device and our son did fantastic! (More on that in another post) So, make a mix CD, make stops on the way, go to the visitor centers in each state, get off the beaten path! We had a blast!

3. Preplan road trip meals and snacks. Half the fun of a good road trip is all the junk food, right? It's nice to just eat whatever sometimes. However, as I'm sure many of you already know, stopping frequently for food on the road can get expensive....and fast! We brought a large cooler with us and filled it with all kinds of yummy goodies for the road: tuna (to make sandwiches), chips, fruit, CANDY, Pepsi, etc. It kept our food nice and cold and completely eliminated the need to stop at fast food places. We could eat at anytime we wanted and didn't have to stop driving or even get off the highway. Hands down, this saved us probably close to $100 each way in food.

4. Look for sale/clearance items months before your vacation. I was able to buy several sunscreens on clearance at Walmart about two months before our vacation. I knew we would be using it a good bit so I snagged it the second I saw it. Every little bit really adds up! In Florida it was marked up almost DOUBLE (even at Walmart)!! It is good planning to bring your own sunscreen with you and not rely on last second purchases on vacation.

5. You don't need a brand new wardrobe for a week. Unless you don't have a specific item needed for vacation, your regular clothes will be just fine for your vacation. I'm not a big shorts person so I realized I needed to purchase a pair or two. I went to Target, used a special clothing coupon (they post them on their website ALL the time) and got exactly what I needed without spending an arm and a leg. Consignment shopping is another great way to save on clothing! I got my son's swim trunks, sun hat, and sandals all at a consignment sale and believe me we have gotten our money's worth!!

Stay tuned for the next post in my vacation series. You CAN do this!!!!!!!