Spring travel savings: Where to skimp and where to splurge
By Aimee Heckel
Intelligent money management is knowing when to skimp and when something is worth the splurge. After all, it’s the occasional splurges that make the skimps worthwhile — and it’s the skimps that make the splurges possible.
If you aren’t savvy with your wallet, a vacation can be a huge money pit. Here are some spring travel tips to keep you from falling into a financial abyss.
WHERE TO SKIMP
Airport food. Eat before you fly and pack a healthy lunch for the plane, and you’ll save money on the often unhealthy and way marked-up airport munchies. Just make sure your packed lunch adheres to the airline’s guidelines, as there are some things you can’t bring on board.
Hidden rental car fees. Did you know it’s often more expensive to pick up your rental car at the airport? Rent a car at a nearby location (make sure it has a free shuttle or isn’t too far away). Also, beware of the oft-unnecessary online travel agent insurance if you book through a website like Expedia.
Unnecessary travel costs, such as taxi cabs or public transportation. Walking isn’t such a bad thing; those crazy Europeans have been doing it for years. In addition to the exercise, it’s a fun way to explore a new city, and it can truly enhance your experience and memories.
The chains. Chain hotels and restaurants often can be more expensive than small, locally owned businesses. Not to mention, the mom-and-pop shops have a ton of character. If you’re adventurous, consider a vacation rental by owner through VRBO.com or AirBNB. Make sure you do your homework and don’t end up in a roach coach, of course.
WHERE TO SPLURGE
Good shoes. Don’t go on vacation with worn-out, uncomfortable or unstable kicks. Tally a few new pairs into your travel budget (but make sure you break them in before you go). Some of our favorite affordable-yet-fashionable shoes can be found at DSW.com. Check out this article on the best vacation shoes.
A good camera. Sure, you may think your iPhone deserves a holy holiday — until you pull it out in the middle of a safari to capture your close encounter with elephants and it leaves you with nothing but blur. Preserve your memories with a great camera.
The digital Polaroid camera is a fun option if you like pictures you can touch. Another great option: The Canon PowerShot S10, $335 on Amazon.com. Squidoo recommends the Nikon Coolpix AW100, $290 on Amazon.
One great local meal, especially if you are traveling to another culture. You can learn a lot about a country by its food, service and by eating with the locals. This will very likely be one of your favorite memories of your trip, so stay long, order something new and do get dessert.
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