Don't let the little things become big things!
7 Small Expenses That Can Blow Up Your Vacation Budget
by Shaunna Privratsky
Planning a Frugal Theme Park Vacation
6 Ways to Save on Backpacking
Exchanging Homes for Vacation
You are finally taking that long-awaited vacation. You've thought of everything, including travel, hotel, and food. You budget accordingly and then realize three days into your week vacation that you're running out of money. What happened?
Small expenses can creep up on you and sink even the savviest budget. Unless your vacation is "all inclusive," there will be extra expenses you'll need to pay. Don't let the little things ruin your vacation. Here are several things to watch out for and how to outsmart these budget busters.
- Airport amenities. With long wait times at the airport, it is tempting to eat at restaurants and have a beverage or shop at the cute boutiques and gift shops. Most restaurants don't even post prices on their menus, but you'll be paying a premium price for those chicken wings or glass of iced tea. Instead, bring food from home if your wait will be several hours or purchase food along the way. This is one time the drive-thru can be cheaper.
- Hotel room service. Everyone knows the mini-fridge is like a landmine; everything in it is extremely expensive. Even room service can eat into the budget. A better alternative is scouting out the local eateries close by or marketplaces. If your room doesn't have a fridge, a cooler and ice will keep your items fresh for snacks and mini-meals.
- Souvenirs. Picking up a few trinkets won't hurt, right? Well, that's until the $20 here or the $15 there really starts hurting the bottom line. Also, if you buy too much, you'll have to pay taxes at customs. Instead, look for free souvenirs like the stunning pictures you take with your phone. Or visit a local thrift store for local flavor items. These will mean more because you actually found them yourself.
- Tips. You probably know you should tip your bellman at the hotel. Did you know that most foreign restaurants and bars add an 18% gratuity tax? Don't tip if you've already been charged a gratuity.
- Add ons. You probably won't be spending your whole vacation in your hotel, watching the one English-speaking program that comes on at 1:00am. Spa treatments, side trips, guided tours, libraries, aquariums, zoos, scuba diving, snorkeling, wind surfing, helicopter tours, area attractions or other fun activities can cost a bundle. Plan ahead to pay for these extras, but don't try to pack in so much that you exhaust your budget. And, don't forget to look for discount coupons in those tourist coupon books or on local websites. Being on vacation doesn't mean you should forget your frugal ways.
- Entertainment. You just have to see the nightly show, but it's well over $100 a person. Instead ask at your hotel; often they have free or less expensive shows just for their guests. Also, a stroll around town will reveal many free options for entertainment.
- Health and beauty products. Oh no! You forgot to pack sunscreen and it is 92 degrees out! Be prepared for sticker shock; virtually all health and beauty products are double or even triple the prices at home. Also, due to size restrictions, you may have to leave that $18 bottle of contact solution behind. Instead shop for travel-sized items at a dollar store or discount supermarkets. You'll save a bundle with savvy shopping.
Fill all of your vacations needs at Priceline.com
Now that you know about the sneaky small expenses that can blow up your budget, you can avoid them and just enjoy a relaxing, fun vacation. Bon voyage!
Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.
Take the Next Step:
- Decide which of the 7 expenses is most likely to blow up your vacaation budget and make plans to avoid that expense.
- Visit the TDS library for more ways to save on your vacation.
- Looking to get the best deal on your flight? Then don't miss this comparison of airfare sites.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.
Prices keep rising while my income remains stagnant and I worry I am heading for debt trouble. Tell us: Yes, I think I am heading for debt trouble and could use some help! or No, I am not in debt trouble but I am always looking for new ways to help keep my budget on track!
More Money-Saving Lifestyle Tips
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- 6 tips for a fabulously free vacation
- Secrets to living luxuriously for less
- Money-saving secrets of the rich and frugal
- 4 secrets to being a frugal foodie
- Why you might want to become a housesitter
- How to be a vegetarian or vegan on a budget
- Be stylish for less using online clothing resale shops
- This week's Readers' Tips