How to Stretch your Travel Budget

Every once in a while a special occasion pops up when traveling during peak season is necessary.  Unfortunately travel  is expensive at destinations during these peak times or during a big event.  Hotels and flights are going to be the most expensive they ever are and you have to figure out a way to make it all fit into your budget.  Case in point: we are planning a trip to Key West during the week of Spring Break.  Yep, most expensive time of year to go to Key West and we have no choice because that is when our friend’s wedding is taking place. Here are some options to keep costs down without compromising your vacation experience.

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1) Using a different airport

Instead of flying into Key West for the whole trip, we are going to fly into Ft. Lauderdale, rent a car, and do the drive down to the Keys.  Flying in/out of a big airport can save big money- $600 for the both of us.  Plus we can stay in a hotel one night outside of Key West (saving more $), get to experience more of the Keys, and in general get to be more adventurous on a one destination trip.

2) Plan the trip with your friends

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There are about a dozen other friends going on the trip for the wedding.  Many are being smart and are finding bigger homes and apartments for rent and splitting the costs.  Staying in Key West near Duval Street is expensive and this definitely helps.  We are staying a B&B near Duval Street with one other couple.  You really are never in your room on a warm vacation or event vacation anyway.

3) Be a little flexible with your dates

Why does it have to be Saturday to Saturday or Wednesday to Sunday? Use flexible date searches (like Kayak)on flights to see if flying out on Monday is cheaper- Wednesday to Sunday and Thursday to Monday are still the same amount of days of vacation, who cares when you fly in/out as long as you are there for the main event.

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The main event- a friend’s wedding a few years ago

4) Cut costs other ways

I am queen of packing granola bars in my suitcase.  I always bring them, sometimes nuts, and other snacks.  Eating out every meal can be very expensive, especially in certain touristy areas.  Eat a granola bar for breakfast (or lunch) and save your money for a great dinner experience.  Also, getting a few snacks at grocery stores can save big time

Stretch Travel Budget snacks

Also, drink less or find a good happy hour. I get that you are on vacation and a cocktail can be a fine thing.  But do you really need 5 cocktails, have a hangover the next day, and miss out on a day in paradise nursing that hangover.  No! Have you fruity cocktail and then have fun with the people surrounding you.

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We always did happy hour in Spain for dinner- it was much cheaper and a lot of fun!

5) Always plan on spending more than you budget

A contingency fund is a good thing.  You will always run into some room tax, resort fee, fun side trip, slice of late night pizza, cab rides- expenses that you just don’t expect.  You will always go over budget.  As the saying goes: “Pack half the clothes and twice the money.”

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Do you have any other ideas for saving money on vacations during prime season or during special event?

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