With all the chatter about the record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot, many of us are dreaming of what we could do with that much money. In spite of the numerous people buzzing about this and running to their nearest gas station to “cash in” on this opportunity, the reality is, the chances of winning are extremely slim. Nevertheless, it’s fun to dream and not winning half a billion dollars does not mean you can’t take that vacation you’ve been dreaming about. In spirit of all things rich and famous laced with luxury, why not plan that “Mega Millions” trip you have been putting off? There’s no reason why you can’t indulge yourself with a little (or big) trip to celebrate your life. If money is a problem, here are some easy ways to trim the fat. You may even have a few extra bucks left over for some extra lottery tickets.
1. Go NOW: While planning ahead is the best for many due to work reasons, some of the best deals are last-minute. My favorite last-minute vacations are cruises. It is surprising how people pay different rates for the same date, same ship, and even same type of room. Often, cruises need to fill quota, so they will slash prices deeply to lose less money on that particular sailing. What makes cruising so much better than other vacations is its all-inclusive nature. The best websites for finding a cheap cruise are:
You can also search for all-inclusive vacations on Kayak as those prices are often slashed last-minute as well.
If you can’t get off work on such short notice, why not make a last-minute weekend out of it? You could go for a “staycation” somewhere near your own town or even hop a cheap flight to a new place you have never been for the weekend. Again, I recommend Kayak.com, but it is a good idea to check on Travelocity’s last-minute deals as well. For hotels, Priceline is the way to go. Click here for tips on using Priceline to bid more than once to get closer to the price you desire.
2. Map out your dream vacation: If you have always wanted to do that Euro trip or visit Asia or Australia, more planning is a good idea. I’m not talking about a “seat of your pants” trip idea, I’m talking dream vacation, the one you have always wanted to take. For this, first you will want to visit your budget. Realistically, what do you have left over for vacation? Using Kayak.com, put together a “sample trip” about three months into the future. You can find the final cost and work with that number later. Even if it takes you 10 years, if it is really something high on your list, you can start saving. If you make it a priority to skip that Cafe Mocha and put that $5 into a vacation fund, you can vacation debt free. It may surprise you how fast you can save when you cut out daily luxuries. Mint.com can help you track your savings as you anticipate that trip.
3. Cut costs on vacation: What is most important to you on vacation? If it’s the room, spend less on food and activities. If it’s the sights, spend less on the room. If you are careful, you can save hundreds on your next vacation. My husband and I have a $10 dining rule. Instead of each of us getting our own plate which also floods us with extra calories, we go for splitting a meal. It saves us around $10 for each meal. That’s $30 a day, multiply that by one week and we’ve saved $210. The little things really add up. Another good idea is to join the Groupon for your destination and look for online coupons for restaurants in the area you will be visiting.
4. Don’t forget your memberships: While making reservations, many people forget about the memberships they are a part of, such as AAA, which can save money on the whole vacation. Often, you can save up to 50% just by being a member of an organization. Be sure to contact your organization to ask for current specials in travel. You would be surprised how much money you can save.
5. Gain photos instead of souvenirs: How often have you purchased a tacky tourist gift that sat on a dusty shelf or sold at your next garage sale? If you go out of your way to make photos your take-home souvenirs, you can save a lot of money. If you find something you really want to purchase, look at the reason you want to purchase that item – if the reason is novelty, just snap a photo of it and you and your friends can laugh at the photo when you return home. Pictures are the best souvenirs, they help you accurately remember how you felt, the scenery, and even funny moments. A travel journal is a good idea as well.
With these five tips, you are sure to feel like a millionaire as you look forward to your future tip. It’s not a bad consolation prize to losing the Mega Millions, either.
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