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How To Save Money On Your Vacation

Updated on January 16, 2014

Fun In The Sun

Travel can be expensive. It doesn't matter if you are away from home for two nights or two weeks there are plenty of expenses. Luckily, there are lots of ways you can save money - the key is to plan ahead.


Your lodging is probably going to be the most expensive part of your trip. Spend some time and look at your options before you go.

  1. Hotels - Usually the priciest way to go but if your stay is only a couple of days then this may be the most practical. For the best choices book your room early. Popular hotels may fill up and you could be forced to stay in one of the more expensive (or less expensive) hotels. Use a discount site (like to get your room cheaper. Also don't forget about any corporate discount rates or professional association discounts you may qualify for.
  2. Vacation Rentals By Owner- This is a great option for the longer stays. Basically, you are renting a furnished home from the owner (sometimes through an agent). Rates are by the day/week/month. Using a site like browse the homes available for rent in the area you are going. Email or phone the contact and secure your accommodations. Although sites like VRBO screen the home owners listed there, make sure you read the 'tips' section of the website and learn how to avoid the scammers.
  3. Friends and Family - Talk to the people around you. Sometimes people have 'time share' accommodations that they are not using and would be willing to rent them to you at a discounted price.

It's All About Planning
Plan early: Book flights and accommodations as early as possible
Shop around: Price check on travel sites, airline sites and discount travel sites for the best rates
Shop smart: Use a point gathering credit card to offset the cost of flights and look for alternatives to hotels
Eat wisely: Eat in and pack a lunch to help keep meal costs to a minimum
Stay within your budget: Choose excursions you can afford


Obviously, you have to get to your destination. Flights, although expensive, are usually the fastest and most practical.

  1. Points - There are dozens of cards out there that allow you to collect points and use those points towards airfare. The trick is to consolidate all those points so you have enough to use. The fastest way to collect points is with a credit card. Find a card that gives you one point for every dollar spent and has no seat restrictions or blackout periods to limit your travel. Now every time you make a purchase use your credit card and your points will accumulate.
  2. Discount Sites - Travel sites like HotWire often offer discounted flights so have a look there. Airlines offer last minute travel deals on flights also so have a look at their sites.


We all have to eat but it doesn't have to break the bank.

  1. Dine In - If you rented a house or have a hotel room with a refrigerator or kitchenette then plan to eat at least one meal there. The easiest is breakfast. Purchase fruit and muffins, milk and cereal or something to cook and eat before you leave for the day.
  2. Know What Is Around You - Scout out the restaurants near you and try to determine how expensive each is. Most places have a menu close to the door as a preview of their meals. Try to keep the expensive meals as you evening meal therefore limiting your priciest meals to once a day.
  3. Pack A Lunch - Hit the grocery store and buy lunch food to take with you. Fruit and muffins, cheese, sausage and vegetable, or ready to eat sandwiches are all great choices and certainly cheaper than a restaurant.
  4. The Venders - Don't overlook the vending carts. You can get a really good hot dog at a vending cart for a great price. The snack/lunch trucks usually have a bigger menu than the carts and provide a quick, cheap meal.

Vacations are expensive you simply can't get away from that but you do have some control over how much you will ultimately spend. Plan ahead and use the tools available to you to maximize your savings.

If you don't like the idea of booking everything yourself then look for a package deal. Airlines, travel agencies and even discount travel sites offer package deals with some measure of savings in them.

A vacation will be as good as you make it. If you are on a budget then limit your paid excursions and look for the free or low cost things to do. Don't spend your time wishing you could be doing something that you can't afford. Just get out and enjoy the things you can do.


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