Cutting Vacation Expenses

by Kay Lynn


I believe vacations are essential to physical wellness and good mental health. The time away from work is essential to recharging so I can go back with new energy and creativity. However, when trying to keep my gazelle intensity vacation is not a big segment of my budget.

Next week I am taking a brief girls trip with my sisters and mother that was planned before starting Financial Peace University but it is not a high budget trip and I’ll tell you how we did it.

Cruise. Our first thought was to go to Key West. However the cost got high with lodging, food, tours, etc. A less expensive alternate was a cruise that had a Key West stop. A Carnival cruise for four nights was only $179 pp for an ocean-view cabin before taxes. This was for a rate that had a non-refundable deposit but Carnival guarantees it will be the lowest price for this sailing or they will refund the difference. We booked two cabins for a grand total of $221.73 pp which works out to $55.43 per night.

Airfare. I travel several times a year for my day job and have built up miles on a few airlines. I used American Airlines miles for a “free” ticket. Just had to pay the security fee for a total of $10.

Pre-cruise hotel. Because it takes all day to get to Miami from San Diego and available times with the free ticket, I am flying in two nights early. After all these years of business travel I was able to use hotel points for a free nights stay with Holiday Inn’s priority club. I’m staying at the Miami Airport Holiday Inn Express which will include free breakfast for the first night.

We needed 3 hotel rooms for the second night as my sisters and mother are flying in mid-day one day early to start our vacation. That accounts for 2 rooms. My brother and his daughter are returning from a cruise and staying in Miami one night post-cruise so we can spend some time together. By watching Travelzoo specials, we found a boutique South Beach hotel for $59 per room per night.

Car. Although the Catalina hotel has an courtesy airport shuttle, we needed a way to get six adults around. Sister 1 is flying into FLL which does not have a shuttle and my brother’s group are flying out of FLL the morning we board the ship. It would have been less expensive to rent two compact cars than one minivan when only considering the rental fees but with parking the minivan option won out. We rented a minivan for one day on Priceline for a total of $84 which is 24% less than the cheapest rate I could find online.

There will be other expenses that I’m budgeting for such as pre-cruise food and on-board expenses.  When I get back I’ll give you an update on the true cost of my budget vacation.

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