If you’re ready to plan a vacation for a fall getaway or if you’re thinking ahead for the holidays, don’t let financial stressors hold you back. The Wyndham Vacation Rentals 2017 “Vacation Ready” survey reveals vacationers stress out the most about spending too much money, packing for the trip, keeping everyone entertained and finding accommodations.
Even though some of the costs of going on vacation are unexpected or variable, there are a few things you can do to reduce some of that financial stress during the planning stages. Click through to find out how to save time, money and stress on your next trip.
Search for Low-Cost Vacation Rentals
Forty-six percent of survey participants shared that finding low-cost accommodations is one of their biggest stressors. If you typically find yourself stressed about finding a place to stay while on vacation, considering choosing a vacation rental.
Renting a vacation home, apartment or condo could save you money — especially if you’re going to be staying in the destination for a long period of time, or if you’re traveling with a large group. Plus, staying in a rental can make you feel more like a local in your destination instead of a tourist. For U.S.-based vacations, consider staying in one of these affordable rentals.
Consider All-Inclusive Hotels and Resorts
If staying in a vacation rental is not an option, all-inclusive hotels and resorts might be a surprisingly affordable, stress-free option.
Staying within budget can be tricky when you’re heading to a new destination and plan on eating out or drinking at new locales for the entire trip. If food and beverage costs or activities at a destination tend to be one of your biggest expenses when traveling, consider staying at an all-inclusive destination so those costs are covered. This can potentially save you money on extra fees for access to a fitness center, WiFi, drinks at the bar, meals and other daily vacation expenses.
Book a Kitchenette Room
One way to keep food costs under control and take the stress out of dining out is to make all your meals during the trip. Keeping an eye out for vacation rentals or hotels that offer kitchenette suites is a start. You’ll need to locate a grocery store, or find a property that offers free grocery delivery services.
Prepare a menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner so you know what you’ll need to buy at your destination and can put together a realistic food budget.
Get in on a Beverage Plan
You might have a handle on food costs, but alcoholic beverages, bottled water and even soda can add to your daily bill when traveling — causing more financial stress.
Seek out resorts, hotels and even cruises that offer unlimited beverage plans or packages where you pay a flat fee for all your drinks during your trip. This way, you’ll have a clearer picture of some of your biggest expenses before you take that first sip.
Find Lodging With Laundry Services
In the “Vacation Ready” survey, half of the participants said being able to do laundry would make vacationing less stressful. Luckily, you can often find affordable vacation rentals that have a washer and dryer. Just make sure you double-check before booking.
Use Tools to Create a Packing List
The “Vacation Ready” survey also found that 49 percent of vacationers believe packing is a top stressor. In fact, 51 percent of people said they would give up alcohol for a month or social media for a week to not have to pack.
Take some of the stress out of packing — and the financial stress of buying things you didn’t know you needed — by creating a packing list ahead of time. Use an app like PackPoint to help you out. It analyzes the weather at your destination and the activities you have planned to help you build a packing list.
Find Free Activities Before Your Trip
Keeping everyone happy and entertained is another big headache for vacationers, found the survey, with 48 percent of participants citing this as a top stressor. And, the same percentage agree having a ready-made itinerary to follow would alleviate stress.
So before you go on vacation, research free events and activities at your destination and put together an itinerary. Check the local visitor’s bureau website, or call the chamber of commerce to find out what might be happening in the area. This can help you populate your itinerary with low-cost experiences so that everyone in your group has a good time.
Make Sure the Kids Have WiFi
Traveling with kids? If you want to keep them happy and entertained without going over budget, make sure they’ll have access to WiFi and a device to enjoy free entertainment.
Download their favorite TV shows, movies and games to your device before you leave and pick accommodations that offer free WiFi. That way, if the kids get bored but you don’t want to spend extra money, you can always suggest they watch a movie or play a mobile game. There are plenty of ways to keep your kids and wallet happy while on vacation.
Check Out Free Museum Admission Days
Visiting a museum is one activity that can keep everyone happy and entertained while on vacation. If you have some flexibility with your travel dates, you might even be able to save on visits to museums that offer free admission days or hours. These typically occur mid-week.
For example, the Houston Museum District is home to several museums that offer free admission during certain days or times. Or, you can visit any of these free museums around the world.
Secure Discounted Attraction Tickets
Finding discounts on attraction tickets when you get to your vacation destination can be tricky — and stressful. As you get ready to plan a vacation, consider exploring local daily deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial at or near your destination for deals on local attractions. You can also search the attraction’s website for online-only ticket prices to reserve yours ahead of time.
For example, Galveston Island Pass offers online-only discounts where you can save up to 40 percent off retail prices at four or more participating attractions. A Go City Card can also help you save up to 55 percent on admission to several popular attractions.
Plan a Relaxing Day Early on During Your Vacation
In the survey, Wyndham Vacation Rentals found that 30 percent of vacationers don’t feel truly relaxed until the second day of their vacation or later on. Before you take off on your trip, research relaxing things you can do at your destination — like going to a spa — without spending a ton of money.
When you’re planning a spa day or two at your destination of choice, avoid paying a premium for pampering with deals and promotions listed on the Spafinder Wellness 365 website. Just enter the zip code or city to uncover deals available during your trip.
Create a Realistic Budget
This sounds like common sense, but the truth is, you might not know how much your vacation will truly cost you. After all, 61 percent of respondents to the “Vacation Ready” survey said spending too much is a top source of stress.
Setting spending limits for different categories can help you make better choices when it’s time to book. Give yourself a comfortable range to work with so you have the chance to splurge in one category — such as accommodations — and cut back on something else — such as entertainment — to keep yourself within budget.
Use a Budgeting App
If you’re not great with numbers or spreadsheets, using a budgeting app can make it easier to avoid spending too much money — and less stressful.
Apps like Trail Wallet help you put together a budget and manage expenses when you’re on the road. Another app that can make money management easier — especially if you’re going overseas — is TripBudget. This app converts currencies and lets you divide your expenses into different categories. And, you can log expenses as you incur them.
Set Up Alerts to Prevent Overspending
If you tend to overspend during vacation because you’re not looking at your budget every day, let an app do the guesswork for you. For example, Clarity Money makes it easy to track your daily expenditures and see exactly where your money is going at a glance. The app provides real-time data on all expense categories, and you can set up push notifications for sending updates throughout the day.
Sign Up for Airfare Price Drop Alerts
When you’re vacation planning a few weeks or months out, you’ll need a game plan to monitor airfare prices and save money. For example, you could use the Skyscanner Price Alert app to search for flight deals and choose which flights you want to monitor. The app will send you an email notification when the price changes.
The Hopper app can also help you get the lowest fares by telling you the best time to book that flight. You’ll get a notification as soon as the price drops and can book directly through the app.
Be Flexible With Travel Dates
Being flexible with travel dates can also alleviate stress and score some of the best travel offers. For example, instead of flying out on a Friday or Saturday, flying in the middle of the week might give you a chance to find lower airfare prices. You might even stumble across last-minute deals and sales on airfare or accommodations.
Buy Discount Travel Gift Cards at Warehouse Clubs
One way to avoid spending too much money on your vacation is to take advantage of deals at your local warehouse club. If you’re a member of Sam’s Club or Costco, you can buy discount gift cards to save money on travel.
For example, Sam’s Club offers discount Southwest Airlines gift cards. And Costco offers discount cards for attractions, theme parks, and even tour packages. Just make sure you read the fine print for any restrictions on usage dates and other limitations.
Maximize AAA Benefits
If you’re already paying for an AAA membership, consider booking an AAA Vacations package that includes perks like privately guided tours, customized itineraries, local host connections, ocean cruises and river cruises. There are lots of AAA discounts you’ve probably forgotten about. Since much of your itinerary is arranged for you, you can sit back and enjoy a unique vacation experience at your destination of choice without the stress of planning and finding the best deals.
Make Use of Current Coupon Codes
Whether you’re making a car rental reservation or searching for deals on flights, get the best possible price with verified coupon codes. Sites and services like Honey make it easy to keep track of the latest travel deals by automatically applying the most relevant coupon code to your order when you check out. All you have to do is install the browser extension.
Take Advantage of Early Booking Specials
Reduce financial stress and vacation planning stress by making reservations as soon as you have your preferred dates or vacation time on the books. Many hotels and resorts offer early bird discounts, where you get a discount of 20 percent or more off your reservation for booking 30 days or more in advance.