Staying on a vacation budget is as challenging as staying on our grocery budget. There are those things we don’t foresee that sabotage the best of intentions.
When it comes to vacation, just like the grocery store, you can thwart these pitfalls by planning ahead. When it comes to vacation budgeting, the following are seven of the most common hazards to plan against.
- Diapers: Granted this is not an expense everyone will have to plan against, but for those with kids in diapers, it is a biggie. If you need diapers while staying at a vacation resort, you can end up spending more on a few diapers than you would spend on an entire box at your local discount store and there’s no guarantee you’ll find the size you need. If you’re driving, plan to stock up before you leave. If you’re flying, it may even be worth the extra cost to pack a suitcase filled with diapers. Pack what you need including wipes and swim diapers, and by the time you go home, you’ll have extra space for those souvenirs you’ve collected.
- Snacks: Whether you have kids or not, the cost of snacks is another unforeseen drain on your vacation budget. If you pick up a small bag of chips and a candy bar at the gas station, you’ll pay premium price. And when you do it for the entire family, you’ll spend enough for dinner. Plan ahead and pack your snacks. This also gives you the opportunity to add in some fruit and other healthy options. You don’t have to pack all these ahead, but you do need to plan. Be sure to stop at a grocery store on the way to your accommodations to help keep a cap on the cost of snacks.
- Bottled Water: Along with snacks you can spend a fortune buying bottled water from the gas station or hotel refrigerator. Plan ahead and stop at a discount store and purchase enough water for you stay. Even if you’re only paying $1 per bottle, for a family of four that can add up fast. While you’re at it, consider purchasing some sports drinks, too, or other beverages of choice to avoid the vending machines.
- Sunscreen: If you’re headed for a sunny location be sure to stock up on the sunscreen you’ll need. Remember, sunscreen needs to be reapplied regularly, and you could spend three times as much at your destination than if you bought it before you arrive.
- Souvenirs: Souvenirs can be costly and most of the time all they do is collect dust once you get them home. Set a budget or limit on how many souvenirs can be purchased, or better yet, challenge your kids to find free souvenirs such as seashells from the beach or take photos to create a vacation photo album when you get home.
- Parking: Also make sure the place you’re staying has free on-site parking if you plan to drive, and check ahead on parking at attractions. Many times you can find cheaper parking nearby than staying in the “official” lot, or better yet, see if your hotel offers a shuttle service and save on parking all together.
- Entry Fees: Lastly, be aware of entry fees. Do your homework before you leave to see if there is some kind of annual pass or membership available that could save you money.
Along with the above items, be sure to check that the hotel you’ll be staying at offers complimentary WiFi because the best way to stick with you vacation budget is to figure in the items you’ll need every day.