It’s summertime, and you want to head out on a big vacation. But the economy sucks. What do you do?
Obviously, you knuckle down and pass on the vacation, right? Or you bite the bullet and spend money you don’t have, yeah? How about you split the difference and go ahead and take a frugal trip? This guide is primarily for a trip to Hawaii, but it can be adapted to fit almost any trip.
Airfare: Not much we can do here to save money… but let’s try. First off, try to book as early as possible. And use websites such as www.kayak.com to search as many different travel sites as possible. See if driving to a larger airport a few miles away will save you money (it works most times). You can generally get a cheaper price if you buy non-refundable tickets, but be careful because they charge out the #%% (wazoo) to change the dates. Sometimes it is cheaper to buy a new one-way ticket than to change the dates.
Accommodations: This part is easier. If you have relatives or friends in the area, by all means, stay there. But remember the saying about fish and house quests; both start to smell after three days. After that (give or take a few days) try Web sites such as couchsurfing.com or other sites where a local agrees to let you spend the night (or more) in return for returning the favor.
Food and Groceries: Well, when traveling on a budget you do not get to be too picky about what and where you eat. If you are in a tropical area (like Hawaii) go to local farmer’s markets for fruit and vegetables. These types of markets are open almost seven days a week and cater mostly to tourist. However, in between the stands of cheap jewelry and tikis you can find stands offering all kinds of fruits and vegetables, cheap. Going to a typical grocery store for meats and cheeses will rack up a bill, but it is about the only way to get these foods. Cooking like this will open up a whole new world of flavors and tastes. Oh, and treat yourself at least once with a nice meal out.
Attractions: Sure, sitting on a beach and watching the surf roll in is fun, but wouldn’t you rather be doing something exciting? You bet you would. It is still possible to do exciting things on a budget, it only takes more effort. For example, if there is a tour of the volcanoes on Hawaii that you want to take, research what route the tour takes and drive it and walk it yourself. You can also easily find places to rent everything from kayaks to snorkel gear at a cheap daily rate. You could even rent both a kayak and snorkel gear and follow boats looking for dolphins along the coast. Then, when they find a group, you can hop in too, and save a bundle.
Making a little extra: Okay, this takes some time and planning, but if you need a little extra money it will work. Along the boardwalks next to the beaches, there is bound to be at least one storefront that attempts to rope you into touring a timeshare. Many of these offer a cash reward for just considering a purchase. DO IT. If you can stand up to the high-pressure sales staff and get through the presentation at the end of the day you can walk away with some more money in the wallet. Even if they do not offer a cash gift, many will provide a free meal or discount cards for other attractions.
So there is a look at how to survive a tropical vacation without spending more money than you should. Enjoy, and be sure to treat yourself a little here and there.