5 Steps to Budgeting Your Dream Winter CT Vacation
Nearly every avid traveler knows a few ways to save on their next vacation or trip. The usual suspects- Airbnb, Groupon, Google Flights, Expedia/Orbitz/Travelocity/Kayak/whatever else- are widely known and used. However, in this article we’re going to be diving into how to go beyond those lodging, flight and car rental-only vacation budgeting sites to help you find great deals on your next Connecticut winter vacation.
Step 1: Budget Breakdown
Like all good budget planning, it helps when setting your budget to break it into smaller pieces. So for example, if you are setting a budget of $3,000 for your Connecticut vacation, what percentage do you want to designate for food? How about lodging? Will you be renting a car to get around, or will you be driving to your CT lodging (hopefully the Interlaken, but we’re biased of course!) from your home? Breaking your budget down into small chunks and allotting a bit of flexibility in the different sections of your budget not only makes budgeting less “scary”, but also helps you roll with the punches for unplanned things that almost inevitably come up when trying to travel on a budget.
Step 2: Find your "WHY" power
Now that you have your budget-related ducks in a row, you’ll want to think about the “WHY” of your trip – are you looking for an R&R-laden solo oasis from your busy regular life? Or maybe you want a romantic weekend with your partner? Maybe you’re looking to have a bit of adventure on your trip and want to make new memories by trying new things with a group of friends? Are you planning a family trip with your partner and young children, and you want to utilize the vacation to enrich your children’s education or expand their horizons in some way? Deciding on the “WHY” of your trip helps you figure out how to budget your hard-earned vacation funds and time most effectively, while also ensuring your trip is personalized to you and what you enjoy doing most.
Step 3: Research (and yes, it CAN be fun)!
Once you’ve decided where in Connecticut you’d like to go and why you’re going, it’s time to do research about the region you’ll be visiting. For the Lakeville, CT area, for example, a great activity for wine aficionados is to spend an afternoon tasting delicious local wines at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery or Sunset Meadow Vineyards. Or if you love outdoor activities, there’s tons of adventure and outdoor fun to be had on land or water. The Lakeville, CT area is rife with everything from ice fishing, to skiing (downhill, night, cross-country, freestyle, ski jumping- whatever style you want to try!), to even snow biking or ice climbing! By researching what’s happening nearby, you’ll evade vacation FOMO (fear of missing out) because you’ll already be abreast of what the area has to offer. It also helps you in budgeting for tours, dinners out, concerts, etc. for the vacation. While of course, the staunchest budgeters among us would advise you go for whatever is cheapest/free, there are definitely going to be some things that are must-dos that might cost a penny or two. Make a list of activities you want to do during your vacation and prioritize them in order of greatest to least importance. If the top five or ten activities in your list are all must-do’s and they don’t fit into the budget, then jump right into step 4…
Step 4: Deal-hunting like a pro
Start bargain hunting like your Aunt Susan during her coupon phase in the ‘90’s! Do google searches for coupons, Groupons, seasonal deals and sales, collaboration discounts, student or senior discounts, and potential discounts based on your credit card rewards points or cell phone or credit card company’s affiliations. If you’ve recently leased a car, ask your dealership about any perks or discounts on goods/services they or their affiliates offer to their customers. If you work for a large company, follow the same protocol as the car dealership. Check to see if ticket pricing is cheaper on certain days of the week and create your vacation ‘schedule’ around that. (Insider tip: US domestic flights are often cheapest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) There are so many ways to save on travel that are only a few clicks away, as long as you’re willing to put forth a bit of time and attention to do so.
Step 5: Crossing your t's and dotting your I's
This is the simplest step, as it’s really more of a double check of steps 1-4. Step 5 is to look through the plans you’ve made, tickets you’ve bought, activities you've planned and soft “schedule” (or non-schedule if you just need a weekend of R&R- no judgments here!) you’ve made for your CT winter vacation... is the “WHY” of your vacation well-represented in the activities and plans you’ve made? You’ll also want to make sure that you have looked for the best deals you can find on everything from your flight or car rental, to your lodging, to ticket prices for the local movie theatre while you’re in CT.
After all of this planning, searching/researching, and deal-hunting you’ve done you should feel happy knowing that you’ve potentially just saved yourself up to a good few hundred dollars (which you can put towards your next adventure!). More than anything, you should feel excited to hit the road and start your vacation! So sit back, relax, and revel in the success of your budgeting and planning process. Okay, now go pack those suitcases- we’ll see you in CT soon!