9 Ways To Chill Out For Cheap This Winter
Being low on funds shouldn’t keep you from getting high on holiday spirit. Here are a few ways to enjoy the holidays without going broke.
If you’re like a lot of people I know, November may have caught you off-guard. Suddenly, it’s time for holiday reunions with family and friends, but you forgot to book your tickets. Where are the cheap winter travel deals?
Don’t go into panic mode, though. There are a number of ways to still travel frugally this holiday season. According to Vacation Kids, your vacation should cost between five and 10 percent of your yearly budget. My own goal is always to spend below what people would consider the average yearly vacation cost.
Talk to Your Family
Don’t feel obligated to travel if you’re trying to be frugal this year. Talk to your family. If you have a spouse and kids, but the person you’re visiting could visit you a lot more easily, see if it would be possible to gift them with a trip to visit you instead of you visiting them.
Or you could visit after the holiday season.
I love visiting my family, but I don’t love traveling during the holidays – it’s so stressful and expensive.
Instead, see if your family members would be open to you visiting a little bit after the rush of the season.
If that won’t work here are some additional ideas:
Begin scrounging for mileage points.
Look at your mileage cards or mileage programs that you belong to. I recently did this and discovered that I still have enough miles to surprise my mom with a trip to Hawaii!
Don’t forget to ask the people whom you’re visiting (if they are family or very close friends) if it would be possible to gift you with mileage points to apply to your ticket. Each mileage program works a little differently, so some people may be prohibited in giving you points based on the airlines that you’re using.
Low-Cost Carriers Rock
Yes, there are a number of low-cost carriers that you can fly with for a lot less.
Caution! Low-cost carriers may upsell you on the seating, meals, carry-ons, and check-in luggage.
So read all of the booking information before you buy your ticket. In the past year, I’ve traveled several times using low-cost carriers and I’ve had a very good experience. I just make sure to bring my own food, not be too picky about my seat, and whenever possible, not check luggage.
Gas is cheap, and the quintessential road trip is a right of passage for most people. Wintertime road trips can be a little tricky, but if you’re in the South or in California a road trip could be a lot of fun and save you a lot of money.
Where to Stay?
If you’re lucky, you can stay at your friend or relative’s house. If you’re not so lucky (or would prefer to stay in your own space), then spend some time focusing on the most comfortable and affordable places to stay during your trip.
I love AirBnB because you have the opportunity to rent out entire homes or apartments. The ability to make meals easily is a huge cost-savings measure for the frugal traveler.
I have to say that the average budget hotel is pretty nice nowadays. Many even have fitness rooms and simple breakfast buffets.
Yes, youth hostels. Don’t freak! You don’t have to be a “youth” to stay in a hostel.
My most recent hostel experience was in San Diego last month. It was immaculate and the first guests that I ran into were a father and son from Japan.
Many hostels offer family rooms and may be cheaper than AirBnB, depending on what city you’re in. If you do decide to stay in a hostel, I would take a little more time looking at hostel rules, any age limits for guests (can kids stay there?), and whether it’s a party hostel or a chilled-out one.
What to Do?
If you’re visiting a small town, you may want to consider designing a cultural tour with your friends and family. Go old school and recreate a meal, outfits, or more and role-play for the day. Too geeky? I totally understand.
Going to a big city? Remember, you’re on a tight budget. Explore the city in the least expensive ways available.
The holidays are just around the corner. With some flexibility, creativity, and communication, you still have enough time to plan an awesome and frugal last-minute vacation.