How to Take a Debt Free Vacation

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Make-Your-Next-vacation-Debt-FreeYou want to take your family on a nice vacation, but you do not like the idea of having to pay it off at credit-card interest rates. You can take a vacation, even a fancy one, without going into debt. Here are eight ways you can make your vacation memorable, and affordable.

1. All cash. Plan out your vacation, purchase must-haves like hotels and tours you insist on ahead of time so they are booked, paid for, and ready. No credit cards on your trip or if you must, a credit card whose max limit is your budget for the trip, so that you pay it in full when you get home. Find coupons for restaurants and attractions. If possible, make sure your hotel has a mini-kitchen so you can prepare simple meals like lunch and breakfast.

2. Have a regular vacation spot. If you plan a new location every year, you will stress getting it planned and you’ll be playing catch up to figure out what everything costs. Once you have a place everyone loves, shop around for frequent vacation discounts. If you have two kids and they want to bring friends for the vacation, the hotel can get aggravating and expensive. Instead, look at condo deals. If you always rent a condo during X week every summer, you should be able to work out a deal with the owner. Some will already offer frequent use deals. A condo means a full kitchen, which means you slash your meal budget by preparing meals rather than eating out.

Also read: Secrets to Getting the Lowest Price on Airline Tickets

3. Save ahead for your vacation so you have extra spending money. Set up a saving jar. When you come back from vacation, the next week put in $1. The next, put in $2. Increase like this each week, up to your vacation.

4. Ask for discounts. Make it understood that you are shopping around and looking for a deal. Make the hotel win your business, making sure they understand their competitor is your next phone call (even if you already called the competitor). Tip: Use sites like Air B&B to book your lodging. My family was able to book a 2 bedroom house with a view for less than a regular hotel room a couple years ago.  This savings is not always the case, but it’s worth a look.

5. Does it have to be a “family” holiday? If you send the kids to grandmas or summer camp, use that time for your vacation. You’ll spend a fraction of the cost of a full family vacation, and you can plan smaller, intimate activities that you can’t plan with the kids.  You might need to keep it close to home in case of emergencies.

6. Take a slow cooker. Slow cooker meals are fast to prepare. Hit the grocery store the evening before as you are coming back to the hotel, pick up what you need to put into the slow cooker, and keep anything cold in the room’s refrigerator. Put everything in when you get up in the morning, set it on the bathroom counter, and put it on low. When you come back, you have a warm, healthy meal for a fraction of the cost of eating out.

Also read: Save Money on Your Vacation with Discount Travel Giftcards

7. Shop package deals. If you have to have flying, car rental, and hotel anyway, shop around for a package deal that will cut the cost of everything. Again, see #4. Let Priceline know that Travelocity is your next call (and yes, call after you find something online that looks good). “I’m going to traveling to X and need plane tickets and hotel for four, as well as a car rental. Online, I see a deal that combines everything for $Y.00. Before I call Z-competitor, what discount can you cut me?”

8. Buy ahead. Once you know where you are going, start purchasing the must haves. It is December. You and your partner both have the same week in July off, and you know this will be your family trip to Orlando. As soon as you have the money saved up for the hotel, book it and pay (make sure of cancellation policies just in case). Same for venue tickets, plane tickets, etc.

What is your best money saving tip when you take a Vacation?

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