Eat Well for Less on Vacation
I am sure most people would agree with the title of this article, so I'd like to offer up two budget saving tips that will make your vacations even more enjoyable! And by the way, with the savings you'll likely get with applying these tips, you may not have to wait for your next vacation to start enjoying 4-star meals at 2-star prices.
1. Restaurant.com Gift Certificates - for those of you who are not familiar with this site, it allows you to purchase gift certificates (essentially coupons) at a discount to face value. A $25 gift certificate would run you about $10 and they are available at several increments. Even better is the fact that if you look on deal sites such as what I've listed on my Resources page, there are often 70-80% off sales for these gift certificates, which essentially bring down your costs by over 80-90% vs. face value. You can search for restaurants by zip code or city if you have something specific in mind, or you could simply browse and see what's available. Having used this, I've been able to save literally hundreds at quality restaurants all over the country. Just to give you an idea what this means in more specific terms, on a recent vacation in San Diego, i averaged about $35 night for five people at popular restaurants in the popular Gas Lamp Quarter - not bad considering the full rack rate would have cost $70-100.
2. Entertainment Book Coupons - If you are vacationing at a location where you will be staying for a while, e.g. a few weeks at a summer home or timeshare, the entertainment book could be another great option. These typically sell for $15-20 and sometimes there are special sales and discounts that you can apply to that price for additional savings. With this book, you'll get lots of local restaurant coupons which you can use generally for Buy 1 Get 1 Deals, and as a bonus, there are often other coupons that you could use as well such as for discounted admissions to local attractions or movie theaters.
With summer vacations just around the corner, I hope you will give these two tips a try and enjoy eating well on your next vacation!
Make the Most of Every Mile
It occurred to me on a recent trip that despite all of the obsession we Americans have with frequent flyer miles, this is still an "asset" that is often forgotten or outright wasted by less savvy travelers.
With their ubiquity and proliferation, frequent flyer miles and their close cousin, hotel points, are essentially forms of virtual currencies and should be treated as such. After all, you paid good money to earn them and in fact, if you were to buy miles, they would typically cost you somewhere in the range of $0.03/mile.
One such form of "waste" is not applying for a frequent flyer account to accumulate points in the first place. While the process for doing this only take a few minutes and is completely free, many folks make the assumption that children, the elderly, or anyone who is not likely to be a frequent flyer would not accrue sufficient miles to earn a free trip so the points are worthless.
This is simply not true.
The airlines have in recent years become increasingly creative with finding ways to let their customers redeem miles (thereby reducing the liability on their balance sheets), especially as airline capacity continues to shrink. This means that you can now redeem low amounts of miles for everything from magazine and newspaper subscriptions to products from a gift catalog. By ensuring that my family and I are card carrying members of every airline we've flown on, I've personally not had to pay for any magazine or newspaper subscriptions for the last 10 years, and that includes the local paper!