Dealing with a pandemic and the many severe personal and commercial economic problems it has caused means that many of us are not able to even think about a vacation this year, let alone take one. But people are still going on vacations in 2020, and if you're in a position to consider taking time off and, maybe, going on a trip, then it’s well worth giving a thought to how to save money on a vacation, something that our blog began to cover a few years ago.
You will need your vacation plans to reflect the difficult reality that due to the current health crisis, many previously popular recreational venues and activities—amusement parks, cultural festivals (featuring art, music, food, and other interests), museums, resorts, historic sites and buildings—may not be open or have limited hours or days of operation. A more positive aspect of this year's economic downturn is that many businesses (such as hotels and airlines) really need customers, and they may be offering very favorable prices on their services, including transportation and lodging travel packages. This could be an opportune time to save a significant amount of money on vacation travel.
Before you make any reservations, first please do careful, thorough research to make certain that businesses are open, available and that they are adhering to the level of social distancing and safety protocols that are acceptable to you and your family; your health and that of your family are always what is most important.
Let's consider a few methods what might save you a few costs on a vacation this year:
- Cash out. If you're concerned about increasing your credit card debt, pay with cash wherever you can. Delta Community offers access to a nationwide network of cooperative branches and thousands of no-fee ATMs to provide cash whenever you need it.
- Do something novel, and don't book a hotel room. Consider alternatives to renting a hotel room. There are private rooms-apartments-condos-homes to rent from owners through a variety of national and international services. Some of these networks offer guarantees for room and service quality, as well as refunds if you need to cancel your trip or if you have problems with your rental unit. Better yet, maybe you have family or friends with second homes who are willing let you use them at no or reduced cost.
- Let's make a deal. Because of the economic effects of the pandemic, many airlines, hotels and resorts are offering steeply discounted rates or travel packages. Research discounts, coupons, special rates, combination deals and other cost-saving packages. These can be not only for transportation or lodging, but also for events and experiences in the area where you'll be staying such as amusement or national parks, excursions and tours, or art, film or music festivals and many other types of experiences.
- Rail against air travel. Driving or flying are not the only options for traveling long distances on vacation. Consider train travel. As an example, compared to flying, it may be less expensive to take the Amtrak train from Atlanta to Orlando with stations in Orlando and in the quiet, attractive suburb of Winter Park—which has a nearby science center and observatory for children and adults, along with a performing arts center. Train travel also allows you to see the country without having to focus on driving.
- Don't hit the beaten path. Sometimes you need to get out of a routine and experiment; that idea can easily be applied to vacations. Smaller cities, out-of-the-way towns, more remote beaches or parks, unusual arts, history and food festivals or other less visited areas and events might be very different, but interesting, and worth investigating. You are also likely to find fewer people to interact with, which provides social distancing and may add to the attraction of doing something different for vacation this year.
- Staycation. Sometimes the best place to go is where you already are. Although you're at home, you can still relax and limit your spending—take a chair out to your balcony or porch for some fresh air, turn up the volume on some favorite music, cook yourself a special meal or dessert, reconnect with new and old friends and family over the phone or internet, or jump into a favorite hobby. If you can, treat yourself and splurge on a take-out meal from a favorite restaurant. Whatever you do, try to decrease your worries and enjoy yourself.
The above are just a few additional ideas to complement our original suggestions. We'll continue to provide practical ideas for making vacations more affordable with further updates in the future. Until then, consider attending some of our no-cost Delta Community Financial Education Center webinars on various financial topics; you may visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to register for the on-demand webinars.