Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ten Tips for Vacationing on a Shoestring During a Pandemic

Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some people who have not lost income and are not struggling financially are taking summer vacations. Do you want to get away this month or next and minimize travel costs and practice social distancing? 

An enjoyable vacation may still be within reach with some advance planning and attention to hygiene (i.e., mask-wearing and avoiding crowds) and costs. Consider one or more of the following ten tips:
¨      Eat Contact-Free- Stay at hotels with a refrigerator, microwave, and mini-kitchen. Steer clear of any type of buffet style meal service and stick with take-out meals or a drive-up window at restaurants.
¨      Stay Somewhere Safe- Use wipes and/or disinfectant sprays in hotel rooms and pass on daily room cleaning services. Non-hotel lodging options include staying in a RV, campground, or short-term rental property.
¨      Save on Restaurant Meals- Aim to eat only one restaurant meal a day. Take leftovers with you for another meal. Consider dining outdoors at lunchtime (it is usually cheaper than dinner) and sharing an entrĂ©e or dessert.
¨      Bring Your Own Food- Pack foods such as granola bars and fruit and beverages such as bottled water and canned juices for breakfast and snacks. Perishable foods for short-haul trips can be packed on ice in a cooler.
¨      Use Coupons- Look for tourist guidebooks at visitor information centers on major highways that contain coupons for meals, hotels, and attractions. These coupons can result in big savings over the course of a week.
¨      Use Membership Discounts- Always ask about discounts or special travel packages for military families and members of AAA, AARP, and other groups with membership benefits.
¨      Shop Around- Compare at least three competing product and service providers (e.g., car rental companies and hotels). Many vendors are offering great deals now in light of reduced demand for travel-related  services.
¨      Find Free Pet Care- Trade pet-sitting services with “pet-friendly” neighbors to eliminate the cost of kenneling a pet from your vacation budget.
¨      Vacation Locally- Consider staying home and plan “daycations” (i.e., inexpensive one-day trips) and “staycations” (i.e., vacations at or near your home) in lieu of traveling to distant areas. 
¨      Be Creative- Think outside the box. Virtual overseas trips and backyard “camp” experiences for kids are two examples. Some people are using their “travel budget” for home improvements, games, and sports equipment.

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