Monday, 16 September 2019

Americans love their vacations, and they'll gladly open their wallets to pay for them.

Early in 2019, the American Automobile Association, better known as AAA, estimated more than 100 million Americans would treat themselves and their families to a well-deserved vacation during the year. According to CreditDonkey, the average vacationer would spend just over $1,145 during their trip to cover travel, lodging, food and activities. Which means a traveling family of four would drop around $4,500 on their annual out-of-town adventure.

While spending money on vacation is a given, how you spend your travel dollars can have a big impact on the quality of your vacation. For example, spending some extra cash to eat at a famous restaurant could be much more memorable than grabbing some overpriced burgers and fries.

To help you get the most out of your hard-earned dollars — and hopefully make some lifelong memories — here are some do's and don'ts for vacation spending:

Don't be sucked in by tourist traps 

Rest stops, travel websites and hotels are filled with brochures and ads promoting must-see attractions. However, some can be overpriced, overhyped and overcrowded. It makes sense to research different sites and attractions to find the ones that match your family's interests and offer the most authentic experiences.

Do explore the real culture of the area

Get away from the crowds and go exploring. Eat at small, local restaurants, take in a concert or play, visit off-the-beaten path museums and galleries or browse a farmer's market. If you want to invest in a tour, look for small, intimate tours led by local residents.

Don't spend money on cheap souvenirs

In fact, don't spend money on anything that could be considered a “souvenir." Skip the T-shirts, staged family photos, shot glasses and store-bought seashells. It might seem like a fun idea at the moment, but chances are it'll end up in a drawer or the back of a cupboard after you return home.

Do purchase local products, crafts, and art

Think tribal rug, hand-thrown pottery or beautiful wooden bowl. And always go for items the area is famous for. India is known for amazing textiles, Italy for exquisite leather bags and shoes and Arizona for fabulous turquoise jewelry. Try to buy items you will use daily, so you can be reminded of your vacation regularly.

If you want to take gifts back to a few special people at home, think local treats instead of trinkets. France is famous for its macarons, Italy for olive oil and Alabama for its barbecue sauce. Well-known local goodies are sure to be a hit when you get home. However, make sure you check with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (UCB) about what food items can be brought back into the U.S. from abroad, as there are some restrictions.

Do splurge on a few special meals

When you're on the go while on vacation, there's a huge temptation to grab portable food that won't slow you down. But just about every vacation destination has a signature cuisine or famous restaurant. Why not take the time to savor some spectacular seafood when at the beach instead of the standard fried fare? New York has some of the best restaurants in the world, and they're well worth the cost. A spectacular meal is a great way to make memories your family will cherish forever.

Don't buy overpriced tourist food

Even if you don't opt for a fine-dining experience, try to avoid spending a small fortune on so-so food at tourist venues. Do you have any idea what it costs to feed a family of four fast food in an already-expensive amusement park? You could eat at a four-star restaurant for what you'll pay for hot dogs and burgers. Take advantage of free hotel breakfasts, pack snacks and plan meals carefully in order to avoid blowing a big chunk of your vacation budget on mediocre meals.

Do invest in once-in-a-lifetime experiences 

Swim with the dolphins, watch the sunset on a beautiful beach, or drive a dog sled. Unless you're a non-stop world traveler, chances are you won't have this special opportunity again. So, why not make some memories and do something amazing?

Get the most for your vacation dollar

A vacation is about experiences, not things, and you can't go wrong spending your money on exciting, bucket-list adventures. In addition, remember that quality spending — buying meaningful items and eating good food — will probably be much more rewarding both while you're on vacation and when you return home.


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