If you haven't noticed, I've been dreaming of a vacation for the past few weeks! It's fun to research gorgeous resorts and locales... but I'm not a fan of the not-so-gorgeous price tags. Chris and I are planning on going to California in August, and here's what I've learned so far:
- Go in the off-season. If Chris wasn't in law school, we would try to travel in September or October. Most beaches are still lovely, and there much less crowded. We went to Seaside in October a few years ago, and it was my favorite time we've gone! If beaches aren't your thing, fall foliage in the upper states is pretty amazing ;) We also went on our honeymoon to Costa Rica in the off-season - June is supposed to be very rainy, every afternoon. We decided we wouldn't mind rain - we're morning people anyway - and got lucky! It ended up being overcast most of the time and only rained once for a few hours. Completely worth it.
- Consider a rewards program. There are plenty of credit cards out there that offer cash-back or travel rewards. If you're careful with your money and pay it off each month, you could see some great results in the next year! (We have friends who paid for their whole honeymoon with travel points they earned. Awesome!)
- Travel on weekdays or early mornings. You can really cut down on your airfare prices by flying at out-of-the-box times. Chris and I are looking to travel Wednesday to Wednesday, and we will probably fly early in the mornings. It may seem a little unusual not to travel weekend to weekend, but it can make a big difference in price!
- Pack lightly. Those darn weight restrictions can be a bummer if you're not careful. I like to make a list of outfits I can make out of a few key pieces to help me restrain myself - and Pinterest can be helpful, too! You can have up to five secret boards now, and it's easy to upload pictures of what you have so you can visually edit what you need and don't need. You can also look into sharing a suitcase with your travel buddy ;) Chris and I have foudn that we're pretty good at it! Less bags is definitely a plus. (Also, pack your own snacks! They can be so overpriced - and unhealthy - when bought at the airport. I usually bring dark chocolate covered almonds and a couple of clementines!)
- Consider off-beat stays. We've been perusing airbnb for a home or apartment to stay in and have found a few promising choices. The costs are fair, you get a whole place to yourself, and most come with a kitchen. It may not sound as exciting to cook a meal on vacation, but I certainly wouldn't mind a simple meal and a glass of wine with the view on the home I'm eyeing! You can save more than a couple bucks eating a few meals at "home".
- Sign up for email subscriptions. Oftentimes, restaurants and excursions will send you deals - look into where you're wanting to go, and follow them! They might even give you a coupon just for signing up. Their Facebook page is also a great place to check for offers. Also, many museums and other sight-seeing spots offer a day of the week where admission is free. Look it up before you go! If you don't mind a little time outside, consider a hike on your trip. It's a great way to experience a new place - we've found a few great trails in San Francisco that I'm dying to try. Free fun!
- Budget accordingly. Do you need transportation from the airport? Renting a car? Will you have to pay for parking where you're going? Meters? These are things you want to think through when writing out your budget. Also remember to include tips for your maids, etc.
- Do you blow budgets? Stay at an all-inclusive. That was the best idea we had in planning our honeymoon, since we didn't have to worry about a single thing. If you don't want to have to think about a budget, just look for an all-inclusive resort. There are some very affordable choices out there... just do your research! And speaking of research...
- Be flexible. I've gotten into a habit of regularly checking what getaways are offered on Jetsetter or Groupon. A few years ago, my family and I went on a trip to New York City, and my mom got us an incredible suite for a steal on Jetsetter. You never know what might pop up in your price range! I've found several B&B's I'd never heard of by checking out these sites.
It can be a little daunting to try and cut costs on your trip, but it's so worth it! Just keep in mind that extra dessert you might be getting out of it ;) And have fun! A new place is different and exciting. Soak it all in.
Tomorrow, I'll be sharing more local getaways... so if you're dreaming of a Texas weekend trip, come back by!
Image via That's Pretty Ace