5 Budget-Friendly Holiday

Budgeting, Investing & Retiring

The holidays are supposed to be a jolly time, but this year is shaping up to be a bit more stressful than usual as consumers worry about their financial situations and stress over seasonal expenses. In fact, a recent survey from Gallup found that consumers plan to spend an average of $805 on gifts this year, down from last year’s average spend of $942.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make the most of this year’s holiday celebration and, for anyone who is eager to escape their home, a nearcation provides an affordable getaway option. While you will be saving money by driving rather than flying, it’s still important to consider other ways to keep your overall vacation costs low.

Here are five tips to save on a holiday nearcation.

1. Travel before or after the holiday.

Prices on lodging for both hotels and vacation homes will be highest over Christmas and New Year, so consider booking a stay on off-peak dates. Whether you prefer to travel just before the holiday or after, you can find savings during these less popular travel days. Keep in mind, you’re likely to find better rates by choosing accommodations that are on the outskirts of town or further from a popular attraction such as a ski resort.

2. Find accommodations with a kitchen.

Whether you’re choosing a hotel or home rental, making sure you have access to a fully equipped kitchen is key to saving on food costs. Eating out three meals a day can really send your travel spending over budget.

Though you may enjoy trying a new restaurant, choose just one or two meals to dine out. Otherwise, plan on preparing most of your own meals to stretch your travel budget. If you’re heading to a remote destination, it’s a good idea to grocery shop at home as food prices in destination towns are typically higher.

3. Look for affordable pet care.

Although bringing your pet along on the trip sounds reasonable, you can find yourself in sticky situations when heading to a restaurant or activity where dogs or cats are not allowed. Not to mention, it’s hard to find accommodations that allow pets in the first place and pets may be more comfortable in their home setting.

Before heading to your vet or local boarder, look for a pet sitter who can offer more affordable, personalized, and flexible care options. Check sites like Rover.com where you can connect with reliable pet care providers based in your town. If you do decide to bring your pet along for the trip, you can always find a sitter at your destination – if you need care any time during the day or night.

4. Take a day trip.

A nearcation doesn’t mean you have to stay overnight at your final destination. Choose a staycation instead and do a day trip to save on accommodation while enjoying an escape from home and a day full of adventure.

Chances are there are places you haven’t visited within a two to three hour radius from your home that can make for an easy there and back car trip. With the amount you save on hotel stays, you can even plan a few different day trips throughout your holiday break.

For help finding an interesting place to visit that is within driving distance, use the Roadtripper app for recommendations based on your location. They will point you to quirky roadside attractions, scenic points, national parks, and more.

5. Forget gifts.

With everyone feeling the strain to their budgets this year, you may have to choose between giving gifts and traveling. Though your first inclination may be to forgo any trips, the reality is that spending time with the people you care about most is more important than any item you place under the tree. If you have to pick one or the other, get your family together to decide. Chances are everyone will opt for an experience over another gift and you can alleviate some of the financial pressure you’re feeling this time of year.

Excessive debt can impact your credit score by raising your credit utilization, the amount of credit you’re using relative to your total credit limit. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/maximkabb

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