Besides the obligatory trip of having to visit your family, most travel is exciting. It is a goal we aspire for and lights people's eyes when they talk about dreams. In fact, studies from Harvard and other places have shown that spending money on an experience rather than STUFF produces longer lasting satisfaction. Here are some tips to get you through the hectic holiday season without breaking the bank and spending consciously.
Come up with a number before you start planning.
Before you start surfing online and looking at packages, examine your budget and come up with a number you can consciously afford that will not affect your savings too much or is in your budget. That way, when you start looking at hotels etc., you can choose Puerto Rico versus Pittsburgh.
Who says the getaway needs to be a trip?
Perhaps book a spa day or haircut you thought you could not afford. For great deals in your area, check out groupon.com. It let's you take advantage of saving money on goods and services through a group discount. The key is to only use it for products/services you want to use and plan for. For example, a client used it for hair color services instead of her salon and saved $100!
Be open to the destination.
On many travel sites, there are great package deals. However, many of the places may not be the location you had dreamed about. I've seen deals as low as $250 per person for flight and hotel for a few days to Maine, D.C., Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. Perhaps these cities weren't what you were thinking of but if you want to get away, it's a great value and there is fun to be had. If you want a beach, you can get Puerto Rico and the Bahamas for not much money either. Look at the package and deal area on the travel sites (travelocity.com, expedia.com, priceline.com, kayak.com).
Don't fly. By committing to driving you are truly able to book a last minute hotel that let's you get away without the hassle of flying and change your plans accordingly. I live in New York but was looking to get away to Philadelphia or D.C. for a change of scenery. I was able to find a 4 star hotel for about $75 per night!
Finally use those miles. Use this time to take advantage of your frequent filer miles. Either book a summer vacation or use the miles to buy something you need or even a present. While using miles aren't the best dollar value, it is better than letting them expire and not doing anything with them.