- Personal Finance
Budget Travel: How to Save Money on Vacation
If you're longing for a getaway but your budget is lean, there are lots of things you can do to save money on vacation. Before you pack your bags, try these tips for cheap travel and a vacation on a budget.
Plan in Advance
While you may have the urge to get away now and go on vacation, not planning in advance can be costly. By planning in advance, you can get an idea of the cheapest rates for a vacation including rates for car rental, flights, and hotel stays. If you're willing to travel in what is considered the "off-season", when a resort doesn't see the traffic it does during the busiest times of year, you can save dramatically.
Look for Free Fun on Vacation
When you're planning a budget vacation, it's important to know that there will be things waiting for you there that are free or cheap. Here's a total opposite: going to Las Vegas. While rooms might be cheap, it isn't a budget vacation destination because it's famous for gambling, and you need money to gamble.
What are some great destinations that provide free fun, once you've paid for your accommodations? You'll want to look for places that provide:
- Sand and surf: Is there a beach, lake, or other body of water where you can sunbathe, and swim for free? Having something free to do is the backbone of a budget vacation. If not, you'll need to look for other things that are cheap or free.
- Hotel-sponsored events: Does the hotel have things to keep your entertained, like a pool, hot tub, fitness center or special events?
- Museums: Are there free museums to attend or a time of day when the museum might be offering free or discounted admission?
- Music: Does the city or the department of tourism sponsor a free concert series?
- Sightseeing: Are there bike trails or hiking trails? Are there any other places of interest that you'd like to go that don't require an admission fee?
How have you saved on vacations in the past?
Prioritize Your Budget Vacation
When you're planning a vacation on a budget, think about what you want the most. While it may be a lifelong dream for you to fly outside the country and rent a beach side cabin that provides total privacy, there's a cheaper alternative. Consider what you value most for your trip. Do you want a room with a view on a busy beach or a stay in a secluded area? Is your ideal vacation a week of amazing nightlife or quiet downtime? Prioritize what's most important to you so you can go where the deals are on your cheap vacation.
Ways to Save on Vacation
Use frequent-flyer miles if flying; pack light to avoid baggage fees
Choose a hotel with continental breakfast
Compare prices between resorts; stay in the "off-season"
Choose a destination closer to your home
Shop at a local grocery store when you arrive and purchase food
Choose a chain with a loyalty program (such as "get a night free")
Pick a vacation spot that allows for lots of walking to minimize money spent on gas
Look at area rest stops for coupons or visitor's guides
Consider renting a home or condo instead of a hotel
Drive instead of flying
Look for lunch specials at restaurants
Think about options such as camping or renting a cabin
Group Vacations Can Make Cheap Vacations
Inviting other people into your plans for a vacation can sometimes make it more affordable. For example, a family with kids looking for a beach getaway might pay less in the end if they join forces with another family to rent out a larger property together. Costs can be split down the middle and both families can benefit from the cost savings. They can also help each other with the costs of things like buying food for the week and preparing it.