Five easy ways to save money on vacation

Hi y’all, I’m so glad to be back! Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but with two out-of-town weddings and new work opportunities to pursue, it’s been pretty crazy around here. I don’t think I’ll be able to post every day, but I’ll do my best to write when I can!

0-3 0Anyway, back to the topic. As I mentioned, we had two weddings to attend, one in New York City and the other in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Yes, they are both far away from San Diego and neither is inexpensive. I am not making the money I used to, but these were good friends, so I was determined to find a way to make it work in our budget.

Luckily, the Mexico wedding was mostly paid for when I was still working full time: it was an all-inclusive resort. New York, on the other hand, had not been booked yet. Fortunately, I had enough frequent flier miles to get myself a free ticket, and I just stalked the prices until I found a reasonably priced one for Chase. I’ve written before about ways you can save money when planning a vacation, but my focus here is a bit different.

Here are some ways you can save money when actually on your vacation:

1. Learn to pack light.
I remember the good old days when you could bring luggage for free and even store liquids in your carry on. Since my mom worked for an airline, we became experts at not overpacking. We mostly brought carry on bags, and for single guys, that could probably still work today. But for women and anyone with children, it’s unlikely you can eliminate the liquids and streamline that much.

That being said, I can work with Chase so we both have what we need and we can fit both our stuff into one large suitcase. It might even be worth buying a large suitcase if you don’t have one. If you and your spouse can fit your stuff into one bag, you’ll save at least $50 in bag fees per trip. Of course, that’s assuming your bag isn’t overweight!

2. Take public transportation…or walk.
Renting a car is expensive and in many places, it’s much easier not to have one (NYC and Mexico are two examples!). Public transportation is much more common in big cities, but you’d be surprised at the options offered in other places – from buses to shuttles and trains, so do your research and save some cash.

When we arrived in Newark, we took the train into the city for $12 each. We also took the subway and walked A LOT. In Mexico, most of our cabs were less than $5. We also didn’t have to drive on unfamiliar roads with crazy drivers. Saved money and our sanity…win/win!

3.  Watch your spending on food and drinks.
This one wasn’t really necessary in Mexico since we were at an all-inclusive resort. In fact, we ate and drank more than normal just because it was already paid for (room service every day? yes, please!). But, in New York, we were more careful. I knew we were going to have dinner at the wedding reception, so I ate a hot dog from a cart in Central Park to tide me over. We bought some beer for our hotel room to relax while we got ready, rather than going to a bar in between the ceremony and reception.

If you’re like us and love to eat and enjoy a few adult beverages, just be conscious of it when you’re on vacation. We don’t deprive ourselves of an experience like a great dinner out, but to parents, a beer together in a hotel room with no kids is just as good as one in a bar. And costs far less!

4.  Prioritize your activities.
There are extra charges for special activities, even in an all-inclusive resort. Spa services, golf, water sports may not be included. I love a good massage. Chase loves golf. But, we live in San Diego. We have amazing spas and courses here. We don’t have endless time at the pool or beach with 60 of our closest friends like we did there. So, our priority for this trip was time with our friends and each other. Chase didn’t golf, and I didn’t get a massage.

We did, however, spend money to charter a boat for a day with a big group. We spent five hours out on a yacht dancing, laughing, snorkeling and swimming. It was worth every penny!

5. Negotiate prices.
When our good friend was negotiating the price of the boat charter, Chase walked up and nearly ruined his negotiating power by overhearing the price and saying “that’s a great deal!” Chase was just excited about going on a boat, and he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. So it’s not his fault he’s a salesman’s dream.

I am not a master negotiator, but I do ask for discounts in certain situations. The truth is, most people want to make a sale, so it never hurts to ask. Our friend who was negotiating the boat price commonly asks, “is that the best you can do?” Most of the time, they lower the price at least a bit. And, this is in the U.S., not just in Mexico. So it’s worth asking, right? There is a good chance they’ll say yes and you’ll save money!

We had some great trips, but we’re happy to be back home with the kiddos…and money still in the bank!



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