Streamline the cost of vacations and
Sometimes "luxuries," such as family trips
and entertainment, get lopped off in the
budget-slashing process. But we all need time to
recharge, to have fun, to enjoy our families and
friends apart from the daily grind. Without some
of these so-called frills, we can work ourselves
into ill health or just plain boredom.
Fortunately, you can enter the work-free zone
of vacations and fun and still stay within a
reasonable budget. Here are some ideas.
- Travel off-season.
You'll probably find the Caribbean or other
warm locations more humid in the summer
months, but cheaper rates can keep your
vacation budget from overheating.
- Don't park at the airport.
That's what friends are for, right? If you
know folks who live close to the airport,
ask to park your car at their home during
your vacation. As an alternative, check out
"park and fly" packages at nearby hotels.
- Take the airport less-traveled.
Speaking of alternatives, you can often find
cheaper rates by flying into an airport
that's not as busy. Research fares to find
which airport is cheaper for your vacation.
Just make sure the distances to your hotel
don't offset cost savings on air travel.
- Eat for less. Many
hotels provide free breakfast, saving you
the cost of at least one restaurant meal per
day. Buy groceries and eat in your room once
in a while. When you dine out, look for
smaller neighborhood markets and eateries
away from the high-priced tourist areas.
They're often more affordable (and may be
- Be patient and save.
Instead of standing in line to view that
must-see blockbuster, wait a few weeks and
watch it at the discount movie theater. Or
wait a little longer and rent it on DVD.
- Buy a family pass. If
your home is near a zoo, aquarium, or
museum, purchase a season pass for the
family. You'll recover the cost in just a
few visits and won't feel the pressure to
see it all in one trip.
- Watch the amateurs.
Enjoy high school or community college
sports once in a while. High-priced
professionals are, well, high-priced. Minor
league games can also provide great
family-friendly entertainment without
breaking the budget.
With a little creativity, you can still enjoy
delightful outings — even when money's tight.