CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Memorial Day is here. The kids are out of school, the weather is getting warmer and some of us just need to get away from it all. But taking a vacation can be incredibly expensive with all of the fees, events, lodging, etc. Not to worry though, whether you plan on taking a trip down I-79 or flying away to LA, these tips should help you out at least a little bit.
1. Try to find alternative methods of travel
If you’re heading somewhere far away from the Mountain State, you might think that flying or driving are your only options. While flights are the fastest and overall easiest to plan around, taking it a bit slower may give you more of an adventure, as well as an opportunity to see more of the country than from 30,000 feet.
Driving can be nice since you’re in your own space, can go at your own pace and save a bunch of cash on fees but at the cost of longer travel time and possible wear and tear on your car. This is a perfectly reasonable option for the longest of trips as long as you have the time and are willing to put your car through it. But, there’s one method that serves as a blend of the two.
Trains. While much slower than your typical plane and even some car rides, trains provide a visual tour of the U.S. as you cruise toward your destination. Amtrak is currently the only nationwide passenger train operator in the U.S. but offers a variety of routes and stops all across the country. If you live in the southern part of the state or the Eastern Panhandle, you might even have a stop in your town. Overall, if you’re looking for a more lax vacation that’s less about the destination and more about the journey, trains are the way to go.
2. Pack light, but efficient
You obviously need to bring some stuff with you when you travel like clothes, toiletries, entertainment, etc. But it’s important to plan as efficiently as possible when you pack to avoid extra fees if you’re on a plane or train or squishing whoever’s in the back seat on a 10-hour car ride with your suitcase. If possible, try to fit everything you want to bring into a personal backpack, that way everything is in one place.
If you’re staying at a hotel, know what they have as part of your room to save space. Many hotels have shampoo, conditioner, hairdryers, etc which help you save on packing. Also, look into foldable toothbrushes and travel-size toiletries such as small deodorant, they can save a massive amount of space and still get the job done.
3. Book early and book smart
Whether it’s a hotel, airline or train ride, the prices for travel bookings fluctuate heavily, especially around the warmer seasons when a lot of people nationwide are making travel plans. The good news is that if you have time, you typically have options. According to travel site Going.com, Airlines typically release their flights around 330 days in advance, meaning that you can start booking that spring break vacation right now. With this extra time comes chances for the price of your travel or hotel to go up or down at a moment’s notice, depending on a variety of factors. Thankfully, travel sites like Expedia have caught on to this gimmick and offer price trackers for certain flights, hotels and other price-fluid travel needs.
4. Look into ditching the rental car
If you’re traveling to a city that has decent public transportation or a resort that has a shuttle to your hotel, see about writing a rental car out of your budget. Public transportation, even for a decently-sized family is usually far cheaper than having to rent a whole car for however long you’re traveling. Uber and Lyft are also usually cheaper options for one-way trips to and from the airport or an outlying location in the city you’re visiting as well.
5. BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)
Or rather bring it home from a quick grocery trip after you arrive. While it’s nice to go out and get a gourmet meal every night, or even to just order a pizza, heading to the store to get some quick meals can save a lot of money, especially in tourist cities. While it doesn’t sound like it fits into your glamorous vacation, embracing the diet of your average college student for a few nights can give you the extra cash to really splurge on another meal or even do another activity during your stay.