How to save money on vacation expenses
Last Minute Shopping
One of the many ways to save money on vacation expenses is to go on vacation on short notice. Many resorts and airlines have last minute specials that you can take advantage of. Try websites like Travelzoo which offer last minute deals from many sources. Of course this is only a viable option if you have a job that will accomodate. Some workplaces require four or more weeks notice when taking vacation, so check with your employer to see how much advance notice you have to give when taking vacation.
Stay Somewhere With a Kitchen
When you finally get to your lovely destination you're going to be starving! It's time to find some great local cuisine and chow down. While eating out is one of the main attractions during a vacation, limit yourself to one meal out per day. Make the rest of your meals where you are staying. I prefer to eat dinner out since it usually provides a grand finale to the day. Also, vary your cuisine. Eat some cheap local food, try some mid level restaurants, and save one night for a really spectacular meal at a five star restaurant.
This especially applies to alcohol, which can really skyrocket at tourist destinations. (Hello $9 Hawaiian drinks!)
Of course, this doesn't apply if you are staying at an all inclusive resort.
Find Free or Cheap Activities
Many locations offer coupons to tourists that make activities cheaper. Try visiting the cities' website if they have one, or contacting the local chamber of commerce. Sometimes there are free museums or historical sites that you can visit as well. One of my favorite memories from San Diego is just strolling around Old Town and taking in the atmosphere. When I honeymooned in Maui, my husband and I had a blast driving the Hana highway and hiking up Ohe'o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools). You can also just have a great time people watching or enjoying a book on the beach.
Only pay for the activities that will really be unique experiences. I will never regret paying to go snorkeling in Maui, it was amazing. If you are going to pay for activities though, ask around, or visit websites to get reviews of the different providers. Shop around for the best deal, for the best price.
Remember What's Important
The things you will remember on your vacation are the fun times had with the people you love the most. The taste of that $100 bottle of champagne will fade, and those souvenirs might very well get lost. Take lots of pictures and write down your thoughts. These will last much longer than any trinket bought in even the most darling boutique.