I caught an eye full of my friend running with a parachute in tow. When I later inquired at the office, Kent instructed he’d been training for an upcoming race.
‘Aren’t you trying to go faster?’ I quipped.
‘Yes, but the parachute makes running harder, and sometimes taking a step back brings us two stronger steps further.’
How could I argue with a guy racing with a parachute? I paralleled the parachute story with a recent debate I was entertaining, I considering a family vacation despite the financial setback. Ann and the kids will undoubtedly enjoy the excursion; however, I’m not sure if it’s entirely responsible to have fun when there’s more money to be saved.
Taking Kent’s advice, I’ll exchange a minor setback for a stronger forward pace. A vacation doesn’t have to cost a lot, but the afforded break from work and quality time with my family is something I can’t afford to miss.
Here’s how I plan to vacation in a financially responsible fashion.
Ann’s friends take lavish trips to South Africa, Denmark, the Philippines and more. I hope the sights are worth the view from the payee’s perspective. It’s not that they go to the ‘hot spots,’ but they’re also visiting them ‘in season.’
However, beautiful places can still be glorious despite commercial dictation. For example, have you ever visited Aspen in spring or summer? Technically, those times of year are ‘out of season’ regarding skiing (the area’s commercial gem), but the majestic mountains, clean air, and countless outdoor activities exist year round. And, you can visit for a fraction of the price!
Kent stayed at a five-star hotel in San Francisco. He still cringes each time he sees the brand’s advertisements. I don’t know exactly what happened during his five-star experience, but he never wants to live through one again.
I heard about timeshares and short-term rentals from an online forum. You can rent peoples’ homes, apartments, and find mom-and-pop motels, have a great time, and not have to pay five-star prices at the end of the rainbow. It’s more about accommodation and comfort than brand names; it’s great to have our own kitchen and den to spend time in; even if it’s not permanently ours, it’s comforting for the time we’re vacationing, and it’s economical.
Ann encapsulates the male stereotype of ‘the stubborn driver,’ never asking for directions though clearly lost. Me, I’m the opposite, never shy to admit I have no idea where I’m going. Being helpless gives me the power to attract added knowledge. When we needed the lowdown on our upcoming trip to Costa Rica two years ago, I began picking brains online.
Using chat rooms, reading blog posts, and sending emails to hotel concierges, presented me with more local knowledge on Costa Rica. I learned about the cheapest cab services, the ‘hidden restaurants,’ and places notorious for targeting the financial ignorance of travelers. I understand businesses trying to make the most of tourism; I just don’t want to be the biggest fish in the sucker pond. Getting the local lowdown keeps money in my tourist pocket.
More and Merry
There’s a time and place for alone time. I would love to spend time alone with Ann on the beach, but the reality is the kids are going to get hungry, need to be changed, and want to build sand castles, washing away my previous plans of privacy with Ann. However, this is a family vacation; therefore, embracing ‘the more, the merrier’ attitude, I could extend an invite to our extended family, asking Ann’s parents and her sister and family to join.
Vacations and associated accommodations can adopt buying-in-bulk benefits; the more you buy, the more you save. Buying in ‘vacation bulk’ saves money. We can get a good rate on the hotel as well as search for other ‘group deal’ sites, offering savings on dining, entertainment, retail shopping outlets and more.
Hunger Wallet Games
Ann’s friends, the ones who skip across the world’s most-sought destinations, love eating at expensive restaurants. Notice I said, ‘expensive’ and not ‘good.’ Moreover, ‘dinner’ is a must with them, an event. Ann and I are different, and let’s get real – the kids dictate when and most times where we eat. Being a bit mindful of how much you eat for lunch in comparison to dinner can make a big difference in your financial pie.
We look for lunch-time buffets, specials, barbeques, and special events, eating a hearty portion of food during the day, fueling us into the night, while not leaving us hungry. We usually get snacks rather than meals for dinner while traveling. That acute shift in behavior saves me hundreds of dollars each vacation. My decision to eat a larger lunch doesn’t influence the beauty or relaxation of my vacation, but it does positively influence the size of my wallet.
Nancy Cooper is a mom that loves to travel whenever she can with her family including 5 kids, 1 husband and 2 dogs. She often writes for major travel publications around the web and offers her finest thrifty travel tips.