This past month we took a little trip to the exotic island destination of Ohio! We took a couple of days off from work to head (mid) west to visit family and enjoy some R&R. Even though this was time away from work and time away from home, we tried our best NOT to go full 'vacation' mode and spend like a-holes. It was important to us to stick to a budget. We made several conscious decisions to save as much cash as we could while traveling to "the heart of it all".
We were set to visit for 5 days so obviously the first thing we did to save money was pack lightly. We've played enough Tetris to know how to properly pack a suitcase. All of our clothes fit into one carry-on bag to avoid the cost of checking one. When we arrived at the airport we found out that Jet Blue actually lets you check 1 bag free of charge... solid.
So we didn't save a dime here, and could have brought a change of pants!
The typical traveler's state of mind is usually focused on convenience rather than savings. We had both been travelling for work and got a little cocky after expensing all the small things that add up during a trip. Missed breakfast before you got to the airport? No problem, just pick up some Au Bon Pan and charge it on the work AmEx. Need some snacks for the plane? No worries, just stop at Hudson News and grab an $8.00 Nature Valley bar and a Smart water. Unfortunately, this trip was for pleasure so we had to pack our own breakfast, snacks and empty water bottles to fill up in the 'bubbler' (read: drinking fountain) once we got past security. Sure, it may seem like a pretty obvious choice, but when you're travelling it's really easy to say "screw it, just buy a water bottle".
Packing snacks and drinks saved us overall probably about $20-$25.
Before our trip we secured a room with family to avoid needing to book a hotel or even an Airbnb. This decision saved us not only in the hotel charges department, but also in the food department. Parents are so psyched that you're visiting that they usually stock up the pantry - which Dylan's did. Thanks parents!
By staying with family we easily saved between $520-$580 for our 5 day excursion.
We also managed to steal a family car, which you absolutely need if you are visiting Ohio. It’s not like visiting NYC or San Francisco where you can hop on a trolly or a subway, you 100% need a car when visiting Ohio, FYI. Dylan’s Mom was kind enough to loan us her Honda (not advertising) for the low price of ‘just fill up the gas if you can’. We were able to trot around town with only having to fill it up once, a staggering $25 worth of gas in Ohio.
Stealing a car from family saved us around $340.
Now what about vacation food and entertainment? If the company of friends and family isn’t enough for you, you can do what we did. Try out local parks, free museums, libraries, and obviously visit with friends and family. Make meals together to avoid the cost of going out to eat (or get your Aunt to take you to Bob Evans!). Brew some coffee and tea at home, ya dingus. One thing we did to save $10 was volunteer for the annual Adams Street Zombie Crawl in Toledo in order to get free tickets. Seems silly to do that in order to save $10? Tell that to Sallie Mae who just got a fat stack of cash thrown in her face.
By staying away from entertainment that costs money and going out to eat every night we saved approximately $300
The largest cost of our trip were our plane tickets, but we found ways to save here too by reading up on the best time to purchase online.
We booked early and on a Tuesday, saving about $150 each off of this typical flight price.
Overall we saved around $1,500 for a trip to go see family. So, now I would formally like to invite debt to suck it.
As we approach December we are looking for EVEN more ways to save money heading into holiday season. In a completely unrelated note, we started a Pinterest in order to pull together some really great articles and resources on saving money. We’re not 100% sure how this Pinterest thing works, but it’s exciting for now. Follow us? IDK.