Single Parent’s Guide: Solo Vacationing on a Shoestring Budget
Vacations can be very expensive, particularly if your idea of a vacation involves a cruise, tourist traps, and a several hundred dollar flight.
Fortunately, vacations don’t need to be the stereotypical white sand beaches and mass-produced souvenirs. A fantastic vacation can be right around the corner and right in line with your budget. There is no rule that says a trip must be lavish and empty your pockets, so focus on finding somewhere you will enjoy and be able to take a break from the parental duties. Here are a few tips for a relaxing, cost-effective trip.
Use Price Comparison Sites for Flights and Hotels
When planning a vacation, it’s worth taking time to get a reasonable price for flights and accommodations. If you do need to fly, the ticket can be the most expensive part of your trip. Fortunately, a number of websites devoted to getting you the best deal are at your disposal. Kayak, Expedia, and Fare Compare are just a few of your options.
The key to ensuring your vacation is within your budget is comparison shopping. Start checking prices far in advance and continue to check them regularly as prices rise and fall each day. When you spy the lowest price, grab the ticket.
Apply for an Airline Miles Credit Card
Opening a card that allows you to accumulate airline miles is one way to save money on airline tickets for frequent flyers unless you don’t carry cards due to your credit history or spending habits. The more you spend on a card that offers airline miles, the cheaper your next vacation comes. As any parent knows, children make up a large portion of your spending, so you might as well earn rewards for buying the necessities. Check with the airline about which items will count toward your reward accumulation.
Sometimes, you can even get your flights for free. However, it is critical that you regularly pay these cards off as the late fees can negate what you may have saved on your plane ticket.
Take the Road Less Traveled
The better known a travel destination is, the more expensive your trip will become. Airfare rises in cost, hotels will charge more, and the surrounding areas will also be able to overcharge for more basic items and services. Instead, research places that can be a wonderful vacation but don’t experience the same amount of tourist traffic. The alternative options can sometimes be even better than the well-known destinations as they are less crowded and may be more pristine.
Different airlines will have different fees associated with baggage and carry-ons; a simple case of over-packing can cost you upwards of $100. Be sure you know your airline’s policy and plan accordingly. When possible, pack lightly and in the proper luggage for your trip. If you do not travel often, you may want to consult a packing guide to ensure you do not cart around more weight than you need to. This can also help you save room for souvenirs for the kids. If traveling via car, pack the necessities only. To minimize stops along the way, pack an essentials bag with snacks, water, and chargers. Make the most of your bathroom and food stops by topping off the car with gas too. Don’t forget to check in with a friend or family member so that at least one person knows your location at all times. Whether this is your first time traveling alone or you are seasoned pro, set up a time each day to check in with the kids too. They miss you as much as you miss them, and sometimes a quick phone call is all it takes to stop that homesick feeling.
While it would be nice to be able to pack the family pet, airline fees and pet-friendly accommodations can get pricey. In addition, throwing a pet in the mix means more bathroom breaks, extra luggage, and worrying about leaving them alone in the hotel room for those adventures that just aren’t pet friendly. Consider leaving your furry friend at home in the care of pet sitter who will give your dog all the love and attention they need.
If your budget doesn’t permit you to fly anywhere, check out local destinations. No matter where you live, there is bound to be an attraction within driving distance. You might consider weekend camping, cave tours, natural hot springs, museums, backpacking, and any other number of inexpensive, fun trips. You might be surprised what you discover right around the corner that’s worth visiting.
Traveling doesn’t have to mean spending a year of paychecks in a single week. Vacations of a simple nature such as a weekend trip to a nearby campground are often just as enjoyable as a flight to one of the coasts paid for by airline miles.
For the savvy planner, vacations can be created out of practically nothing when you play your cards right. Shop and pack smart, research less popular destinations, and consider a road trip in your area. The possibilities are endless.
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