This is the time when many people in northern areas start planning to head south for the winter – not just to escape the cold, but to get a break from the long period between Christmas and Easter.
The problem many people face is that they have still not paid off all the Christmas expenses. So a little extra holiday can plaster a brand new debt on top of what has already accumulated on the credit card.
But a mid-winter or late winter getaway does not have to break the bank. The first step is to determine what are your goals. Yes, yes, I know you have always thought about going to Venice, but there are cheaper places. Yes, the Mexican Riviera is lovely, but lots of places are. If you are just looking to escape for a few days, the exact location doesn’t matter, as long as there is none of that stuff you are trying to escape:
Your list is your own, but these are some of the common escape targets. You might not be traveling to escape, and that is fine, too. But most travel at this time of year is escape travel.
Pretty much anyplace warmer will fit the bill for the four items above, so let’s go with that. Focus on the “pretty much any place” and free yourself of the “had your heart set on” any particular place.
You know when you want to go. You have booked off work. Now get on the Internet and look for the best bargains for those dates, without too much concern for destination.
Some people wait until the last minute for last minute deals. “Surprise me!” is their motto. As long as the surprise is a good one, why not?
A few more credit card sunscreen tips
You can also save money by having a friend drive you to the airport and pick you up. Airport parking for a week or even just four days can be very expensive. Why pay for your car to just sit there?
Take care of your health. Tropical sun on unaccustomed skin can burn hot. You could end up paying big time for medical attention back home if you don’t take care of your skin. And make sure to get the shots you need, depending on your destination. Medical attention and unplanned time off work can also cost a lot.
Don’t load up on souvenirs. really – think before you buy. Sometimes a souvenir is a keepsake treasure for a long time. But often they just gather dust. Think carefully before giving in to that impulse.
Use a rewards card. It is exactly for big expenses like this that rewards cards are most worthwhile. Big expenses mean big rewards, so if you plan to make those expenses, you should at least maximize the benefits you are entitled to.
Be flexible on your timing. Yes, you have a week off. No, you don’t have to travel on the weekend. If you plant to leave for only four or five days of a nine-day period (two weekend, plus five weekdays in between), play around with your departure dates. You might save $100 or even more.
If you have to change money, ask around for where the best rates are. In some countries there are both private and public banks, official exchange places and unofficial ones – and often there can be a big difference in the exchange rates.
Above all, once a choice has been made, don’t fret about it. You are trying to escape so that you can relax, but if you get too stressed about your spending, you will still have paid the money without getting the full relaxation you’ve paid for.
Enjoy the white. I mean the white sand. On the beaches.