Travel Smart

Travel Smart

My husband and I are by no means rich. We are working class people trying to manage our finances as we get older and have children to help through their college years. But, we all know the old adage, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. We feel strongly that vacations are necessary for us to recharge and return refreshed for another year of providing for our family. So, even though many have no idea how we can afford such a luxury, I simply say it’s all about the planning and the expectations. I don’t expect a five-star luxury resort. I do expect a romantic time alone with my husband without any distractions.

So, when loved ones who know we are not made of money ask us, “How could you afford to go there for an entire week?” I tell them it’s definitely not about booking an all-inclusive package with a travel agent because you’re looking at the travel agent!

The first step to take about creating an affordable vacation is to do all the planning yourself. Once you decide what your budget is for the entire week, break down what you will need for lodging, entertainment and food and drink per day. The remaining balance dictates whether you can afford airfare or if it will be a driving vacation closer to home.

Family in the airport

Next, log on to the Internet. Check out some of those plan-your-own trip websites that bundle airfare with a rental car and lodging. Another great option is if you have a nearby bus or train station. Now, I’m not talking about your regular Greyhound line that we’re all familiar with. There’s a line called Megabus. It’s an express so it travels non-stop from point A to point B. The fares are ridiculously low making it entirely possible to travel roundtrip across the country on about twenty bucks if you’ve got the time to make the necessary connections.

If you check into Amtrak passenger rail, opt for the cheaper coach seats. If you travel with little children overnight it’s better to get a private suite. However, for two adults just trying to get from one spot to another, the coach seats are comfortable enough to sleep in even if you book a “red-eye”.  They have a car with a snack bar and an upper observation car that is open to all. It’s just one more great option that may be more affordable than a plane ride depending on where you are going.

Lodging and transportation are the two biggest expenses on any vacation. If you take the time to do effective research and compare offers, great bargains and deals can be found in this competitive industry and the consumer can really benefit. Our most recent vacation was, as usual, on a shoestring budget. However, with careful planning and choosing to drive to our destination, we were able to do the excursions that were most important to or memory making and returned home with wonderful stories and pictures to share with family and friends.