I remember dreaming of going on a vacation when I was working hard at learning how to budget. It seems like it was a distant dream, but I continued to work hard at getting out of debt and learn how to save on vacations! For many, the idea of traveling may seem expensive and out of reach. And so year after year they deprive themselves of getting out and seeing the world in fear of busting their budget. But the reality is, savvy travelers know that there are plenty of travel deals to be had! Planning the best, budget savvy vacation does not need to be tricky or even time consuming, it just takes a little research and know how. If you want to learn more about how to save on vacation, you are just a short read away from some of the best money saving tips!
So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and read on about how you too can enjoy a great getaway and save money in the process! You are about to learn everything you need to know about how to save on vacation.
1. Budget for your vacation.
This tip is first because it is the most important. You first need to learn how to budget for your vacation and then work towards it. During the year, make sure you set aside money on a weekly basis towards this goal. I use my SmartyPig account to save for vacations. This way, I can pay cash for my trip and not have to charge it! I also suggest using a Prepaid Debit card like the one that I talked about in my article about ‘How to Budget Your Life‘.
I LOVE takes vacations at All Inclusive Resorts because they are easier to budget for. You know how much your stay is and your airfare before you go. My favorite resorts so far are Moon Palace Resorts. I took the kids there a few years ago and we had the best time ever! If interested, you can read my Moon Palace Jamaica Grande Review.
2. Dine in.
Eating out while vacationing can eat up a great deal of your budget. Eating out is expensive! When you vacation, eating out is convenient which is why we tend to take advantage of it. Instead, try to limit your convenience eating when you’re on vacation. Instead, try to pack lunches for day trips, or carry high-protein snacks in your bag or purse to get you through the lunch hour. Save the eating out for special meals or group dinners.
In past vacations I've put together a couple dump recipes if I am driving to my location. I pack my crockpot and have dinners at home.
If you don't want to travel with food, you can use Instacart to have your groceries and incidentals delivered to your hotel or vacation home. That way you don't have to worry about packing these.
3. Buy incidentals at home.
Tooth brushes, medications, sun block, and other health and beauty accessories like these can be marked up significantly at resorts and tourist destinations. Plan ahead and pack these items prior to traveling. You will pay as much as ¼ less at home than you would at a hotel gift shop. Yes it means remembering to pack more and making room for it, but it also means a fuller wallet later.
4. Use coupons.
You can use coupons.com to print free coupons for groceries, clothing, and more, so why not use them for travel too? Most attractions offer coupons for their venues and services, so print them out to enjoy some discounts! Not sure if the attraction offers them? Just call and ask and they will be happy to tell you where coupons can be found. Some airlines and hotels even offer savings vouchers, so be sure to ask ahead of time. You can find local deals on Groupon or LivingSocial as well.
5. Browse discount travel sites.
Browse through a few discount booking sites like Expedia.com. Then call the airline or hotel to see if they will match or beat the price listed. Whichever method you use to complete your bookings, you will have received the best prices, and possibly receive a refund if another customer books the same service for less at a future time.
You can set up flight alerts through Airfare watchdog. They will watch your preferred flights and let you know when the prices drop so you can save more money!
6. Pack efficiently.
Airlines are notorious for hefty luggage and baggage fees. Airlines charge for extra luggage, so be mindful of how much you are packing. Pack as much as you can in your free carry on item to help lighten the load and the cost. If you fly a certain airline most of the time, consider signing up for their credit card. I have a Delta Amex card and get 2 free checked bags just for having it.
7. Travel in the off season.
Prices on everything are lower in the off-season. Hotels are less expensive in the fall on the east coast, cruises are less expensive in the hurricane season months, Disney is less expensive prior to holiday weekends, etc. Know what the off season is for the area you wish to travel and take advantage of the lower prices! Use websites like HomeAway.com or VRBO.com to book homes in the off season and save thousands!
8. Travel like a local.
Locals know where the best deals are on dining and entertainment. Try to ask a few locals what you can do for free or less at their city. Look for blogs or websites ran by locals that specialize in activities in their area. By traveling like local instead of a tourist, you are sure to save.
9. Consider where to cut back.
Do you really need a $350 a night hotel? Most of the time, a hotel will just be somewhere to sleep so you don’t need to. Consider three star hotel splurge. If you need a rental car, will a standard size do or do you really need a deluxe SUV? Consider where you can cut back and what you truly need. These cut backs can help you save considerably.
We love to stay at Airbnbs because the hosts usually have information on the best places to eat and attractions to visit.
10. Water is liquid savings!
Drinking water while traveling can save you big bucks. Drink lots of water and stop spending your hard earned money on sodas. Why not carry a water bottle in your purse or bag? Pack an empty water bottle for your carry-on and fill it with water after you get past security. This way you will have something to drink before getting on the plane, without needing to visit an expensive airport shop!
As you can see, these ten tips are simple ways to really help you save big on travel and save on your vacation. None of them are time or cost consuming, and each one can help you save whether you are taking a simple weekend getaway or a two week vacation over sea!
For more travel tips – check out all my articles on how to save on travel.