Photo of Golden Retriever dog playing in the creek.

Wanderlust For Less

by Kris Phillips

Whether it’s a girls weekend in Vegas in July or an anniversary getaway to Telluride with my hubby in November I LOVE to travel! I mean LOVE IT! No stay-cations for this girl. So in order to squeeze as many adventures into one budget as possible I’ve come up with a few travel secrets over the years I want to share with you!

1- Prioritize the luxuries! Before you go (or even while you’re there) stop and decide which over the top luxuries will mean the most to you. Will starting your weekend off with a stress-melting massage, scuba diving with dolphins, or yoga at the top of the world make this the best holiday ever?! Then do it! And skip the touristy things that don’t really excite you. Don’t pay for an activity just because it’s the thing to do on vacation. Only splurge on what that you’ll definitely want to remember!

2- Pick up groceries when you get there (or take some with you)! If going out to eat isn’t a huge priority for you then just skip it. You could pay for a whole weeks worth of vacation munchies by skipping just one dinner out, not to mention more $$ for exciting adventures. Many hotels provide breakfast. And if you must dine out, consider splitting meals with your travelling companions. Most restaurants put WAY too much food on a plate, especially in tourist areas. By splitting a meal you’ll save your budget and your waste-line.

3-BYOB- Many vacation destinations charge a premium for alcohol- $35 cocktail anyone? Take your favorite libations with you. No doubt they’ll be less expensive but also you’ll probably get higher quality drinks. Yes, you can take booze on the plane. As long as it’s unopened and in your checked bag. Or you can take those tiny bottles in your carry on. Just pick up the mixers when you get where you’re going.

4- Rent a car or drive your own. The extra cost of renting a car could save you big in other areas. It’ll give you the opportunity to grab groceries or alcohol at the grocery store. You may also find the same experiences a little less expensive once you get away from the resort. Vegas, for example, you’ll pay a premium for spa services in the hotel. Get off the strip a little bit and the spas are priced like any other city. Plus, you’ll have more options for exploring the area you’re in. *Word of caution- be aware that once you leave a tourist area you also leave the relative safety of it.

5- Scope out free activities. Most vacation destinations have breath-taking landscapes. So get out there and explore them. Go hiking, biking, kayaking. Walk through the town square and take in the culture.

6- Travel in the off season. You can save HUGE by travelling in the off-season. I stumbled across this one sorta by accident. My hubby & I were married on 11.11.11.  We picked the date figuring it was lucky, and we’d need every advantage we could get. We found out after moving to Denver that our anniversary falls right between seasons in the mountains. We’re too late for summer activities and too early for ski season. The bonus: hotels accommodations are crazy inexpensive. And we often get upgraded to even better rooms since the hotels are mostly empty. The draw back…things are closed. So we have to get creative and keep a go-with-the-flow attitude to enjoy our time away from it all. Our latest trip to Telluride we enjoyed an amazing suite, breath-taking hikes and snowball fights, and it felt like we had the whole mountain to ourselves. But every. single. restaurant was closed. Seriously, all of them. Fortunately, our suite had a kitchenette and the grocery store was only a 10 minute walk. While cooking my own anniversary dinner wasn’t my idea of fun, sitting together, sipping cocktails, in a rooftop Jacuzzi and watching the sun set over the mountains more than made up for it. If you’re going to try this one, call ahead to make sure the things that are going to make or break your vacay are still going on.

The one place NOT to skimp- Tipping! Waitresses, valets, cab drivers, spa services, if you plan these luxuries into your budget be sure to include the tip. This should not be considered optional. If you’re travelling in the off-season it’s even more important  since guests may be few and far between. Remember these are the people making your journey memorable. Appreciate them. If you got a good deal on a service or meal, tip based on what it would have cost you.

Wherever your wanderlust takes you-ENJOY!


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