How to Save Money When Traveling for Vacation

While vacationing may not be one of your largest monthly expenses, it’s one worth caring about. After all, your family has already invested a lot of emotion in anticipation of your upcoming trip. Traveling is expensive, but the right strategies can help you cut down on costs, so you have more money where it counts. Try these 9 tips on your next trip and your wallet will thank you.

  1. Find free activities. They say that the “best things in life are free,” and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to vacationing. With just a little research, you can create once in a lifetime memories no matter where you are traveling. Look at community calendars for public events, enjoy a self-guided tour to get to know your destination, and inquire about museum free days during down times.
  2. Plan to eat in. Contrary to popular belief, traveling doesn’t mean you have to eat out for every meal. Spend several days camping and cooking your food outside or book a room with a microwave, refrigerator, or kitchen area. While you may want to splurge on a fancy dinner, breakfast and lunch are great meals to eat in or pack and go while you enjoy your day’s activities.
  3. Skip the best room. If you’re planning an action-packed vacation or visiting the local sites, how much time are you really going to spend in your room? Do you actually need the amenities, extra space, and a great view? If your room is primarily for sleeping, there’s not a huge need to spend your hard earned money on these extra costs.
  4. Stay outside the city. Location is one of the most expensive aspects of traveling. If you have reliable and affordable transportation, it can save to stay away from highly popularized tourist attractions. Cut costs by visiting these attractions during the day and heading back to your hotel to sleep.
  5. Consider off-season. It’s no secret that everyone from airlines, to hotels, to restaurants hikes up their prices in preparation for the tourist season. Hotel rooms and plane tickets can often be found at a huge discount just by choosing to travel during the off-season. Plus you’ll avoid larger crowds and gain access to more affordable tickets to local attractions.
  6. Fly flexible. If you are planning a vacation and are not on a tight schedule, you can be flexible with your seat selection, departure and arrival times, as well as the number of stops. Compare prices and the dates of your to see what might help you cut on expenses.
  7. Use miles and points. Larger chain hotels, like the Marriott and Hilton, have member loyalty systems that give you points for purchases at the hotel – but be cautious of the hotel rewards credit cards. These rewards can be cashed in for things like free miles and overnight stays. To enjoy the benefits, sign up for loyalty programs. Remember to fly with the same airlines and stay at the same hotels to build up your points.
  8. Rent an apartment. Condos, cabins, and apartments are generally cheaper than booking multiple rooms, especially if you have kids. There are a lot of traveling short term and long term apartment rentals to choose from; our favorites to use are Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway.
  9. Create a budget. The best way to prepare for your vacation is knowing the right time to save money and when to splurge. Create a budget that allows you to save money but gives you a couple of opportunities to treat yourself. Realistically preparing yourself for you and your family’s favorite activities is the best way to keep yourself on track with your spending.