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College of Human Ecology

K-State Specialist: seek out regional attractions to save money on vacation

Monday, June 4, 2007

MANHATTAN, Kan. - With rising fuel costs, many people are forced to be creative and look for areas in which they can save money on their summer vacations, said Carol Young, Kansas State University family financial management specialist.

It can be easy for travelers to go over budget while on vacation, Young said. It is best to begin planning by establishing an amount that you can really afford to spend. To help you stay within your budget, make sure that amount is available in a savings account so you can pay off the credit card bill right away after the vacation.

"Carry some cash and use credit cards only for convenience along the way," Young said. "Remember, though, to keep track of your credit card spending so that you won´t unexpectedly go over budget.

Otherwise, all of the scrimping and penny-pinching is lost to credit card company interest costs or late fees and you may still be paying for your vacation when it´s back-to-school, or holiday gift shopping time."

Travelers who are searching for ways to create a low-cost vacation might first look for opportunities that are within driving distance from where they live, Young said. Kansas has a lot of regional and community attractions that people may not think about as a vacation option, such as museums, community events, fairs, and state parks that offer - what Young calls "good old fashioned entertainment" - camping, fishing, boating, swimming and trails for hiking, or horseback riding.

To save on traveling, lodging and meal expenses, which are the three biggest expenses for vacationers, people can plan to travel and share hotel rooms with friends or family. When the costs are shared, families can afford to travel somewhere farther away, stay longer, or
stretch spending money, she said.

Another way to save on lodging is to stay with family or friends and take advantage of the attractions in their area. This could also be an alternative for those who are eager to explore areas beyond those near where they live.

"Planning out a trip ahead of time so that you won´t be doing any backtracking in the vehicle can help cut down on fuel costs," Young said. "When you´re in the city, use public transportation, trolleys, and tourist buses. Not only are they usually less expensive than
driving your own vehicle, but they save you money on parking fees, eliminate traffic congestion stress, won´t get you lost and can be an adventure for children, too."

With a little pre-vacation planning, travelers can save money on meal costs, too, Young said. With the planned travel itinerary and stops in place, families can make a list of their favorite nonperishable foods, or foods and drinks that will stay safe in a cooler with ice.
Making the list a few days before leaving will allow plenty of time to go grocery shopping.

Travelers should take along nonperishable snacks, such as cereal bars, fruits and vegetables, as well as cold picnic foods and beverages that travel well and stay fresh in a cooler with ice, she said. By packing healthy items, people will be less tempted to stop
at fast food restaurants and convenience stores, literally eating up the budget along the way and resulting in unhealthy choices.

Planning ahead also allows time to find activities that are available in a certain area or city. travelers can search online for city and regional Chamber of Commerce, or specific activity Web sites. Consider asking friends or family members who live in the area for ideas; read newspaper articles that highlight area events and activities; or check libraries for travel or vacation magazines, Young said. Some online Web sites may offer money saving coupons for activities, gas rebates, or other incentives. When looking for activities, families can also cut down on costs by limiting the number of activities that require entrance fees.

"Plan several months ahead by doing some wintertime browsing," she said. "That will give you time to plan out your trip and be creative about how to save up more money. It will also give kids enough time to start saving their own money to buy souvenirs or other items."

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus in Manhattan.

Story by:
Leah Bond
K-State Research and Extension

This article was posted on Monday, June 4, 2007, and is filed under College News, Family Studies & Human Services.