Planning a (Debt-Free) Dream Vacation

Most people agree that a vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but planning for one can be just the opposite. Still, poor planning can cost money and time, causing headaches and frustration when you're supposed to be getting away from it all.

Some people like to book a ticket and see where life takes them. Others prefer cruises or tours where the planning is taken care of for them. I prefer to plan my trips, researching and budgeting as much as I can while I'm at home to make the vacation as smooth as possible. If that sounds like the route for you, today I'm going to share my method, step-by-step, for budgeting and planning a vacation, including spreadsheets you download and customize.

This method is effective in planning trip logistics and budgets, laying out how to do the following:

  • Estimate how much the trip will cost, allowing you to save sufficiently and not come back to a credit card debt slap in the face
  • Efficiently plan your time, maximizing time spent doing fun stuff and minimizing time lost due to scheduling conflicts
  • Easily keep important information at your fingertips to save money and time

This method saved me at least $375 on my last trip after a cabana in Mexico lost my reservation. Because I used this step-by-step system, I had documentation of my reservation and deposit, and the owner agreed to “make their friends leave” and accommodate me. (Things work a bit differently at Mexican beach cabanas.)

Stuff like that isn't fun when you're on vacation, so let's avoid those hassles. Pick a destination, and start planning.

Choose a travel guidebook — or three
Most travelers find that there isn't just one guide that covers all of their needs. Some books cover the logistics — where to stay and how to get around the city. Others might focus on history, culture, and the arts. Then there are some that are even more specific, like biking through the Netherlands or kayaking in New Zealand. Get one book that adequately covers the basics and at least one that covers your personal interests.

Planning tip: Check out several guide books out from your local library to get a feel for the writing style. If you like one, then purchase the latest edition. This also saves money if your trip is more than a year away. Travel guidebooks quickly become outdated, so it's very important to purchase the latest edition to take on your trip.

How to know if it's guidebook love
Here's what to consider when deciding which guidebooks to buy:

  • Do the accommodations and restaurants fit your budget?
  • Do you like the layout? Is it easy to find information?
  • Does it have detailed maps?
  • Does it cover your primary travel interests, such as history, culture, food, markets, safaris, ecotourism, farm stays, hiking, etc.?
  • Does it make you feel even more excited about your trip?

If you plan to visit only one specific region or city, or if you just plan to spend the bulk of your time in one, consider a regional or city guide with more specialized information.

Guidebooks worth a look
If you aren't sure where to start, here are a few guidebook series worth checking out:

  • Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door. Steves believes in making travelers “temporary Europeans.” From his book: “The more money you spend, the bigger the wall you build between yourself and the culture you traveled so far to visit. Stay in the small inns, eat in family-style restaurants, visit out-of-the-way places, rub elbows with the locals. You'll spend less money and have a great time in the process.” The guidebooks include tons of practical information about where to sleep, eat, how to use public transit, budgeting, historical sites, maps, and more. Steves' book got me from Rome to Pompeii, and I saved $50 over the route that others in our travel group used.
  • Lonely Planet. Perfect for logistics, but you'll need to supplement with another book for history and in-depth cultural information. This series is especially good for long-term travel, as is gives extensive information about where to stay, how to get around, etc.
  • Frommer's. Another series that advocates living like a local, but is very extensive in the destinations it covers. A book from this series helped me to rent a car and successfully drive around the Yucatan peninsula, use toll roads, and not get lost once.
  • Fodor's Guides. There are several series of Fodor's travel books, each written for a different type of traveler. Fodor's uses local writers to give readers the most accurate information and inside knowledge.
  • Let's Go. If you're a student, or just on a student's budget, this guidebook series is one to consider. Written by students, there's information on all things cool and free.

Also check out Budget Travel for articles on your destination(s). I've found some great hotels written up in Budget Travel that were out-of-the-way and not as popular as some of the ones listed in the big guidebooks tend to become.

Basic planning
Once you have your travel resources, you're ready to start planning and budgeting. Download and open my Vacation Budget and Itinerary Planner (1.2mb XLSX) and click on the Basic Plan tab. (If you have an older version of Excel, here's a 1.0mb XLS file.)

  • How many days do you have for this trip? Enter that number into the yellow box.
  • Where do you want to go? List each city in the column to the left.
  • How many days do you want to spend in each location? Enter those numbers into right column.

If the difference is negative, you need to earn some more vacation days or make some cuts to your itinerary. Don't try to pack in too much. If you spend all of your time jetting from point A to point B, you won't see as much. What is most important? Be sure to check your guide books to see how much time is recommended for each place.

Fill in the details
Now that you have a basic outline, use the Expense & Itinerary Planner page to plan your itinerary. First, fill in the dates. Next, list the following, step by step, in the Activity column:

  • Transportation between points
  • Accommodations
  • Attractions

Use the guidebooks to estimate expenses for each item in the Activity section, and enter those into the Expense column. If I'm staying at one hotel for three nights, I typically list the expense just once on the first day I'm staying there, but you can list it on each day if you like.

You'll need to search online for airfare and train estimates. For airfare, check out the big sites, like Kayak, but don't forget to look at budget carriers, too. Fellow GRS staff writer Adam Baker wrote a great guide, 5 Little-Known Websites That Will Save You Time and Money When Booking Airfare Online. Adam writes, “In most cases, the cheapest fare will be found using a combination of sites depending on your specific travel plans.” Try lesser-known websites when searching for the lowest airfare.

For rail travel in Europe, Rick Steves provides a comprehensive guide to Eurail passes, including how they work, how to plan your trip, and cost comparisons. Include any mode of transportation you'll use, whether it's rental cars, buses, taxis, ferries, or elephants.

In the Notes column, include important details, such as hotels that only accept cash upon arrival, offer continental breakfast, or other important details.

Now use your books to estimate meal expenses (plus tips) under the Food section. I like to find budget hotels with complimentary breakfasts, which can reduce expenses a bit if the hotel comes at a good price. If the primary reason you're going to Italy is to dine like royalty, however, by all means, add that in there. You can toast to me with your glass of Brunello.

If you like souvenirs, add a budget for that expense. Personally, my favorite souvenirs are photographs, which weigh no more than my digital camera and cost nothing. Add any other expenses in this section. For example, if you are renting a car, add in an estimate for gas.

State of the budget
You should have an estimated grand total for your trip. Is it in your budget? If you haven't started saving for the trip, how many months until departure? Divide your trip cost by the number of months until you leave to find out how much you'll need to save each month. If you can't save that amount, reassess your trip plan or the departure date.

No reservations: Start booking your trip
You have a budget and an itinerary, and you're ready to start making reservations. As you make reservations, enter whatever you're paying now in the Pre-paid column, and the amount due on arrival (DOA) in the DOA column.

Fill in times associated with each activity where appropriate, especially for departures and appointments. You don't need to schedule every minute of every day, only the activities with a time frame associated with them. For example, if a museum you want to visit closes at 1 p.m., that's something to write on the itinerary. If you want to see a show that starts at 7 p.m., that's another important detail to note.

Planning tip: As you make reservations, save receipts, confirmations, and e-mails for air, hotels, and anything else that required a deposit. Just stick them in a folder until you've finished booking your trip.

Create your personalized travel guide
Gather the following items, in this order:

  1. Budget and Itinerary Planner sheet
  2. Torn-out, relevant pages from guide books (Tear up a book?! Yes. They are quickly outdated anyway, remember?)
  3. A page with addresses, telephone numbers, and websites to each hotel, attraction, or transportation source, where applicable
  4. Reservation receipts, confirmations, and e-mails
  5. Photocopy of the passports of each person going on the trip
  6. The 800 numbers for each credit card that will be used on the trip, in case you need to report one lost or stolen (Also, call your credit card companies to let them know when and where you are going, or your card might get frozen for unusual charges.)
  7. One page with emergency numbers, such as the nearest U.S. consular office. U.S. embassies or consulates can provide assistance if you need it. Go to the U.S. Department of State to get contact information for the area(s) in which you will be traveling.

Take this stack of papers to a print shop and make a spiral-bound copy for each person traveling with you plus an extra copy to leave with a friend or family member.

It's a bit of work upfront, but it saves you a lot of hassle on your vacation if you have an itinerary and important information at hand, and you won't be shocked by a massive credit card bill when you come home. Plus, if you give a copy of your personalized travel guide to your mom, she might not nag you quite as much for going white-water rafting in Nepal.

J.D.'s note: Kris and I have recently become avid watchers of The Amazing Race. Between watching that show and reading April's article, I'm dying to get out and see the world. To celebrate the completion of my book, we'll soon be taking a trip to Belize, but I want to do even more!

More about...Planning, Travel

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Kams
Kams
10 years ago

This is exactly how I planned my honeymoon this past summer and I loved it! Everyone judged me and my spreadsheet – I though it was awesome! When unexpected things come up (a storm was arriving so we had to travel onto an island a day earlier) I knew exactly what I was planning for that day and what I would be missing, plus what reservations, if any I needed to cancel and by when to avoid charges. Plus I came back with no debt just a bunch of great memories, and I got to do basically everything I wanted… Read more »

Bucksome
Bucksome
10 years ago

I am the family vacation planner and they tease me sometimes about my thoroughness. The one thing I haven’t done is the expense and itinerary planner.

I’ll use this idea for our April vacation. Thank you for the information!

Matthew
Matthew
10 years ago

Your actual vacation cost will always be 50% – 100% more than you estimate, no matter how hard you try. Keep this in mind and add it in to the budget.

Jason D Barr
Jason D Barr
10 years ago

We took a trip to Iceland last September that would have been improved mightily on the logistics front had we followed some of your tips, April. This article will be very helpful in the future. Thanks!

Leah
Leah
10 years ago

I actually did almost exactly this for my trip to New Zealand in early October 2009. I’d been planning (and saving) for a trip to Kiwi country in the summer of 2010, but when I found really, REALLY good prices for flights, I decided to move my trip up by almost a year. I bought my airplane tickets in March 2009, so I had plenty of time to save. As a woman in her late twenties, I wasn’t sure how I would get around while there, so I planned on joining up with a young adults tour for a big… Read more »

Kat
Kat
10 years ago

Matthew, I’ve planned my vacations like April, and never have gone over by 50-100%, I’m usually right around the correct amount, but never more than $100ish over. But to double the cost, holy cow! If you double the price of your vacations you obviously aren’t planning for it at all!

Frugillionaire
Frugillionaire
10 years ago

Thanks for the informative article, April.

I travel often, and like doing pre-trip research on restaurants in the area. I read reviews, ask locals for advice on travel forums, and compile a short list of options before I leave. It’s a great way to get a good meal, and avoid overpriced tourist traps!

JakeIL7
JakeIL7
10 years ago

I do agree about the planning part at least as far as the where are you going, where are you staying, and how are you getting there parts. Everything else can float… However, I disagree with the spiral bound notebook. My strategy has been to get everything on one to tow pieces of paper. Fold these up and put them in your travel wallet (you do have one, don’t you?) in case other things get stolen or lost. It is much less of an inconvenience this way. If you need immediate access, make a copy WITHOUT your passport info and… Read more »

sandy
sandy
10 years ago

Our family has been able to travel much of the world, and throughout the UsA and Canada using a lot of these tips. Love the one about using your library…that’s ALWAYS where I start when our family has decided where we want to go that year. (I’ve been known to make copies of specific helpful pages from library books to bring with on vacation…cheap, I know, but helpful!) We’ve had great success with finding apartments and homes for rent on vacation the last few years. With a family, it’s easier to do breakfast in a place with a kitchen, and… Read more »

bon
bon
10 years ago

I’ve been accused of over-planning many times, but I have never gone this far! Don’t get me wrong — I like the spreadsheet & April’s tips — BUT my most memorable trips (in a good way) have involved exploration, getting lost, needing to talk to locals for recommendations, help, directions, etc., and having the freedom to wander. That said, not having everything buttoned down might make some people more anxious and less able to enjoy their vacation. A couple more Tips: If you are traveling to a third world country — I would definitely use but wouldn’t fully trust a… Read more »

David
David
10 years ago

Some people I know and have traveled with tell me they don’t like to overplan their vacations; they want to be spontaneous, get lost, explore, … I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. In fact, I feel planning everything out gives me the freedom to improvise whenever I want, and I can make my way back to the original plan at any time. The difference, however, is that by planning ahead I can keep my trip within a set budget, and not end up spending money on unforeseen circumstances (which are practically guaranteed to happen when you don’t plan).… Read more »

Amy@MD
10 years ago

My husband and I went to Ghana last March for our friend’s wedding. It was such a wonderful experience and we enjoyed so much the culture, friendly Ghana people, food and their everyday work and life. If you are like us, love to know new people and learn the cultural tradition, oh and don’t mind bugs/heat/humidity/no AC.. you will really enjoy a trip to Ghana. We would like to add the TravelAdvisor website where people share travel information and advices. For guide books, The Bradt Travel Guides are really nice since they talk a lot about culture and the real… Read more »

Tyler Tervooren
Tyler Tervooren
10 years ago

I love the spreadsheets for bird’s-eye-view planning, but agree that you don’t want to take it too far.

For me, the best times are had by getting the big ticket items locked down and setting a strategy for once I’m there, but leaving enough open ended details to allow for plenty of exploration and unexpected finds.

I also can’t recommend enough using whatever method you can to connect with someone local. It changes the entire experience.

steven@hundredgoals.com
10 years ago

JD, I just got back from Belize the other day and it was a great place. I wish I could have been able to spend more time there to really explore the country a bit more. The food was great…I’ve never had better rice and beans in my entire life! They cooked them with coconut milk and it was just fantastic. Have a great trip and I look forward to a full report when you get back!

Meg
Meg
10 years ago

I can’t say enough good things about Rick Steves! I think you can also watch some of his shows on Hulu.com.

Karawynn @ Pocketmint
Karawynn @ Pocketmint
10 years ago

I’m a super-vacation-planner also! /highfive

One thing I’ve forgotten to factor into the cost in the past is pet care. :/ If you have friends who can watch your pets, you’re set, but if you need to board them or hire a petsitter, that cost can add up fast — pet care over a standard 9-day vacation can easily run $300 or more.

Leah
Leah
10 years ago

I went to New Zealand too, just like the other Leah (but I went in 2006). I went for three weeks and figured I needed around $3-4000, depending on what price I could get for airfare. I’m a hostel-sleeper, bus-taking type of person, and I had two friends in NZ who would let me crash with them for awhile, which saved me something like $200NZ. I worked with a travel agent to get a great flight for $1,300 from Seattle -> LA -> Auckland and then back from Queenstown -> Auckland -> LA -> Seattle. Strangely, I didn’t plan my… Read more »

laura in atlanta
laura in atlanta
10 years ago

Outdated or not, I would never tear up a book! Photocopy the pages you need instead and then on your trip, you can toss the sheets as you ‘use’ them. Donate the book instead . . . someone out there can use it! Another tip? More of a safety tip though. When traveling make sure you have a nice clear photo of the people you are traveling with. If someone in your group goes missing, esp a child, you want to be able to have a color photo with you that you can physically hand to police. So many people… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
10 years ago

Too much planning.

1) Pick a place that sounds interesting.
2) Buy plane tickets.
3) Reserve accommodations.
4) Buy a Lonely Planet.
5) Figure the rest out when you get there.

I don’t know why people think books are sacred. They’re just paper. Do you care about throwing away yesterday’s newspaper? Why a book then?

Liz
Liz
10 years ago

Thanks. This is great. It seemed over the top but once I downloaded your template, its easing my frustration. I’m planning a debt-free wedding in Vegas for April so all the little extra costs count.

Craig
Craig
10 years ago

I recently have done this and had a debt free vacation. It’s all about planning. Once you have the idea range of what you want to spend, then set up a time limit to save for that and then work on saving and learning more about the trip. It’s a great feeling to go on a debt free trip.

FinEngr
FinEngr
10 years ago

I am in no way affliated with the site, but I cannot stress how gret GO-TODAY.COM is!

Their most popular packages include 6-night + air to Paris for around $700!

Of course, these deals are so good because you:
– go in the off seasons
– stay at mom/pop hotels
– have weird layovers

I’ve taken two trips through the site – London & Athens, and both times were superb.

ebyt
ebyt
10 years ago

Good lord… what a lot of detail! I’m going to Vegas in March with my sister. She researched the best deals for a while on Expedia and those other travel sites, and we booked when we were confident we found the right price and dates. We’ve got a rough idea that we want to see at least 1 show, go to one world-class restaurant, and we’ve already booked a helicopter tour. I usually also budget for spending money roughly. I don’t know that making a huge spreadsheet would help all that much. I won’t go crazy and decide to buy… Read more »

Sam
Sam
10 years ago

Wow that is a well thought out plan! I am impressed. We’ve been taking debt free vacations since 2007. This is what we do. (1) $50 every pay period goes into our travel/vacation fund ($100 a month). (2) We try to plan vacations well in advance so that we have time to budget. (3) We book the flights, normally we have more than enough in our travel fund to cover the flights for the two of us, or one of us if its a solo trip (I normally d0 a girls weekend a couple times of year). (4) While we… Read more »

Andy Hough
Andy Hough
10 years ago

This is more planning than I would do. My vacations usually last several weeks though so I don’t really need to plan much. If I miss something one day I can just do it later.

If you over plan your trip you run the risk of turning your vacation into work.

Jay
Jay
10 years ago

@ #3 Matthew – the purpose of doing a good, detailed budget is to reduce that 50-100% to a more manageable level. I have used a system that is very similar to the worksheet here for the last 5 year, and planned over 20 trips from 3 days to 30 days, including one that covered Canada coast to coast with stops in 10 cities – talk about a budgetting nightmare! My general cost overrun is more in the 5-25% range (towards the higher end on longer trips), and usually is not “vacation” expenses, so much as it is buying things… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
10 years ago

I think these are all great tips and will return to this whenever we are finally free to take an overseas vacation. For now, we are using our timeshare and doing drive-to vacations. That makes things low-stress and (since the timeshare is paid for) low cost as well. We tend to make a list of local things we really want to do and work out a rough schedule our first day, including any reservations that are needed. Our last trip was a week in Sedona and we planned an outing on the Verde Valley Railroad, a Ghost Tour of Jerome,… Read more »

Bob
Bob
10 years ago

Rough Guides are also very good resources when planning trips, especially when you want to get into some adventuring (hiking, kayaking, biking, etc.). Covers wide range of pricing for food, accommodations, etc.

Alexandra
Alexandra
10 years ago

The spreadsheet seems like another excercise in making simple complex.

Wendy
Wendy
10 years ago

I thought I was the only one with spreadsheets! I like to do the “work” ahead of time so that I can relax and have a good time on vacation. I like to have a back up plan of alternate events when STUFF happens. Tips: It’s always a good idea to check out local events/happenings in the area as well as the weather for the Month of your travel. Maybe you’ll realize April might not be the best time to take the kids to Palm Springs. When checking customer’s reviews read the bad ones first! Also read the most recent… Read more »

sandy
sandy
10 years ago

April…was on that train from Rome to Pompeii a few years ago. My husband learned a trick about train travel and getting a comfortable seat. Move to the front of the train as far as you can. When people are getting on the trains, they often sit not far from where they get on. MAny get on as last minute, so are running and jump on and stay toward the back of the train. He pushed our family forward through the crowds, and we ended up in a nice compartment, with those wonderful views of Roman Arches and vineyards…aaahh good… Read more »

Ryan @ IQ Test
Ryan @ IQ Test
10 years ago

This is a great post. I think that using the spreadsheets actually makes things more simple in the long run.

gwen
gwen
10 years ago

This is a great idea, thank you so much! We haven’t had a vacation in a few years and are just now floating where we want to go in 2011. I’ve never planned a vacation, so this will be quite helpful.

JD: I just read Jim Rogers’ The Adventure Capitalist and like you, I can’t wait to go out and explore! All in good time, though.

Big Spender
Big Spender
10 years ago

I agree with those who say this is too much work. Vacation planning shouldn’t be equivalent to a second job!

If funds are that tight, maybe a “staycation” is in order…

Cely
Cely
10 years ago

Be careful how much information you put in one place. If someone loses that binder, the finder has your itinerary, passport information, bank information, hotel locations, phone numbers, etc. etc. Too risky. I budget beforehand and keep pertinent information for each place on one sheet of paper. That can be tucked in a pocket or wallet. The passport and CC info is kept separately, and definitely apart from the actual CC and passport. I also write information directly on the map of the place I’m going. I mark restaurants and other sites before I leave. Then when I’m out and… Read more »

Jake @ CareerAde
Jake @ CareerAde
10 years ago

And I thought I was the only excel nut … but I tend to wing it.. don’t even read the travel guide until I am on the plane

J Brown
J Brown
10 years ago

We traveled Europe and lived by Rick Steves books. His guide was our planning baseline. In terms of the budget, this article is much more than we ever did. I learned to use public transit, use cash only and eat cheap breakfast/lunch. This kept the costs down enough for us. We learned to live like a local, not a tourist – even if it was just for a week. Also, we learned in terms of keepsakes, have an idea of what the area is known for before hand. We kept things to a limit of cost and then numbers. We… Read more »

Eric
Eric
10 years ago

Always ask if there’s a better rate on lodging from the owner. You can save a lot of cash by simply negotiating your room rate. Also, pick your guidebook by its coverage of the country, not by the imprint. For example, Lonely Planet Thailand has been the gold standard for that country, while, last I checked, Rough Guides India was better than the Lonely Planet India.

Maggie
Maggie
10 years ago

We plan ahead using a less detailed spreadsheet. I am definitely a local budget traveler, so only plan hotels for the first night or for short layovers. I use those prices for the budget process. For the following days, I can usually get a place much cheaper (and often much more interesting) by looking when I am there. We take a local bus tour to orient ourselves when we hit a new big city, then mark our maps with the most interesting places that we want to revisit. I love meeting new people, so often wind up going home with… Read more »

SoldierGrrrl
SoldierGrrrl
10 years ago

I loved the Rick Steves Guide to Germany and it was absolutely the best when it came to recommending places to stay and eat. We had some of the best food in the world by listening to him.

Sarah
Sarah
10 years ago

It’s funny that people are arguing about the right and wrong way to plan a vacation. I think April’s way is great, and as this seems like a site aimed at people who are trying to get out of debt and bad spending habits, I think it’s a great way to be realistic about your budget and aware of how much you spend. On the other hand, if you don’t need to do that, good for you! Some of us love our spreadsheets and I had to laugh at the statement that planning for a vacation is no fun because… Read more »

Charlotte
Charlotte
10 years ago

JD,

Since you guys are going to Belize, you might be interested in my husband’s travel tale.

“Belize in a Conch Shell”

http://www.cosmicadventure.com/travel/traveltales/belize/belize.php

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

Bo-ring! I have traveled on $25 a day with no planning beforehand (zero). It was awesome. Lots of crazy adventures.

David/yourfinances101
David/yourfinances101
10 years ago

The travel book was a must for me. It saved me time money and stress on my trips to Moscow, Paris, St. Petersburg and Kiev.

You think its kind of cheesy buying it and possibly even walking around with it, but it really became my “bible” on these trips, especially if you don’t know the town at all that you’re visiting

Alexandria
Alexandria
10 years ago

I don’t necessarily do the spreadsheet, but I also do the “canned” vacations as friends call them, cruises. LOL. My husband and I really love cruising, we can do anything we want from parasailing to sleeping, and the greatest thing is, our vacations are paid for before we even leave port! We know how much the cruise is, we often book about a year ahead of time, pay for it every month over time, along with putting an alloted amount into a vacation account for planned excursions, cash on the ship, and other things we may want to buy. So… Read more »

LiveCheap.com
LiveCheap.com
10 years ago

April….wow that’s a ton of planning. I think only a certain type of person would like doing that much work. I’ve always been the planner in the family or even for friends coming with us because I seem to have a knack for ridiculous deals. My vacations seem to always come under budget because the big items airfare and hotel are always super cheap. Let’s face it, unless you are dining at 5 star restaurants every night, air and hotel is going to make up 80% of your bill. Maybe Vegas is the exception but that’s an anomaly. Plan enough… Read more »

Carol
Carol
10 years ago

For those of you thinking of going to Vegas, I can recommend a publication called “Las Vegas Advisor” . It’s a newsletter published every month, and if you subscribe for a year, you get a coupon book worth every penny of the subscription price. Each month has an advance planner for 2 months out with a list of all the shows and prices, with a smattering of hotel prices, and to make your trip nicer, when all the big conventions and trade shows will be in town, so that you can either avoid them, or like we do, GO! We… Read more »

David Wittenberg
David Wittenberg
10 years ago

For those who might want to try something different when traveling on a budget, you should try camping through Europe. My wife, daughter, niece and I spent 72 days traveling several summers ago. We did a lease buy back on a new 5 passenger Renault turbo diesel van (~33mpg) with a luggage rack and shipped our camping gear to Europe (relatives in Germany) prior to going. It could also be purchased there as well. Camping is super inexpensive compared to hotels/pensions and you truly are temporary Europeans, since many middle class European families camp for their holiday. We purchased tickets… Read more »

Karen
Karen
10 years ago

LOL, GRS posted on how to plan a once-in-a-lifetime resort vacation while still poor and in debt!

What’s wrong with this picture?

I’m been on these types of vacation (thanks, rich BFs!) yeah, they’re fun, but not as fun as the price tag would suggest.

Take a road trip to Chicago or NY or LA and spend as much as you want–you’ll still come out way ahead.

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