We know we’re preaching to the choir when we say this winter has been rough. It’s for this very reason that we’re “leavin’ on a jet plane and don’t know when [we’ll] be back again.” We need sun, sand and warmth – like, now.
When we first started this article, we were planning to head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in early Spring. We were relying on the credit card miles we built through managing our business. Unfortunately, on our quest for flights, we learned that the number of miles required to fly to Puerto Vallarta has increased. Now, it would cost us as many airline miles to fly to Puerto Vallarta as it would to fly to Brazil or Italy. As we’ve used miles to fly to Puerto Vallarta before, this felt like a bait and switch.
We have miles on other cards, but they’re more conducive to European travel. To use the miles we want to unload now, we decided to rethink our vacation destination.
Now we’re headed to Palm Springs, Calif. This will let us use the miles we need to dump and keep our travel expenses low. Because we’ve chosen a smaller town that offers a lot in a centrally located place, we won’t need to rent a car. We may, however, rent bikes because that sounds fabulous. (It may sound less fabulous once we’ve imbibed in a few libations, but we digress.)
The other strategy we’re implementing is monumental planning. We always say that planning is key maintaining any budget and it will be the key to controlling our vacation expenses. First, we’re scouting the restaurants, coffee shops and bars that have online coupons. We’re also researching which establishments offer promotions and when. Hey, we’re not above the Blue Hair special.
We’re using tech, as well. Here’s how.
1. Vacation Alerts
We’ve signed up for alerts with sites like Airfarewatchdog.com and Jetsetter.com, which offer customized alerts. We choose the kind of vacation we want, where we want to go and what we want to do — and receive alerts tailored to these needs. These sites offer a lot of ingenious money-saving travel tips and share potential deals on social media as well.
2. Discount Codes
Sites such as RetailMeNot.com offer discount codes for just about everything. For our pending vacation, we’re looking for hotel options, but we can also search for airline tickets and car rentals. Discounts range from a few dollars to 40% off. RetailMeNot also offers vouchers for free meals at hotels and bonus rewards points and miles for hotels and airlines. If the stars are aligned, we may even be able to use our existing hotel and airline rewards with discount codes.
3. Planning Ahead
We want this vacation to combine relaxation with adventure. On vacation, everything costs money and expenses add up quickly. We’re using sites like Living Social and Groupon to plan our activities ahead of our trip. These apps and others let us change locations even before getting to our vacation destination so we can find discounts in that area.
To avoid luggage fees, we’ll each take one carry-on bag at the most. This vacation will only be one week. We survived 30 days down under with only two carry-on bags. Seven days will be a piece of cake.
We’re downloading coupons for groceries, restaurants and other entertainment and activities in Palm Springs. Sites such as Coupons.com and TheKrazyCouponLady.com offer more coupons than one needs. Some coupons can be sent via text directly to our phones.
There are also apps, like The Coupons App, that can help you find discounts in your travel destination.
5. Gift Cards
Similar to holiday shopping, we can buy discount gift cards in advance and use them on our vacation. Sites such as Giftcard.com, Giftcardgranny.com and Plasticjungle.com offer a wide variety of discount gift cards including ones for clothing and other retail stores, movie theaters, spas, airlines and car rentals.
6. Travel Apps
Apps such as Travel Zoo offer discounts on hotels, airlines, entertainment and local attractions in both foreign and domestic cities. There are also apps, like Larky, that track your loyalty programs and membership benefits. Larky, for instance, notifies us when we’re near an establishment that offers a discount through a loyalty program we belong to.
This is our strategy for getting away from Old Man Winter and not succumbing to becoming Poor Richard in the process. Hopefully this gives you an idea how to lower the cost of your hibernation vacation so can still reach your financial goals. (You can monitor your financial goals like building good credit for free on Credit.com.)
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