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Vacations can be done on a tight budget, you just need to get creative! Pin, bookmark, and share this post before booking your next trip! Maybe you can take two vacations this year for the price of one.
- Saving on airfare is usually best if you- Plan several months in advance so you have time to compare and get what you want OR be a bit flexible and wait until the last minute.
Combining both approaches results in lowest fares because you know when you are getting a great deal. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days for saving money on flights.
- Always book connecting flights – you will save money almost every time. If you have to wait two hours to change flights and your ticket was $100 cheaper than one with no stops. then you’ve paid yourself $50 an hour to wait. It’s not bad when you look at it that way.
- Be a minimalist and pack light – if possible, don’t check luggage. Most airlines charge extra for checking luggage and waiting for your bags adds to your traveling time. Throw the possibility of having your suitcase lost and it makes sense to avoid it when possible.
- Even if you are just flying one-way, round-trip tickets are often less expensive. Just throw away your return trip ticket.
- Stick with one airport – Flying in and out of different airports not only adds time, it costs more.
- Multi-Country traveling – Check with the airlines to see if they will delay your connecting flight for several days. Then you can savor the time in the first country before rushing to the next for without paying for an extra flight.
- Search multiple airlines at once using –CheapOAir –, Priceline or Travelocity. Never go straight to an airline’s site, all publish changing prices based on the time and day. You want to be sure you compare apples to apples.
Frugal Food Choices:
- Do your homework and decide where you’ll eat before you head out. Buy an Entertainment book for the city you will be visiting and make use of the coupons.
- Cook most of your own foods. If you can book a place that has a full kitchen, it will save you a TON in the long run. It’s almost impossible to eat out for less than $30-$50 per day per person. Stock the hotel kitchen on your first day especially if you are traveling with your children. Pick one or two fun places to eat out at for the experience and eat in the hotel for the rest of your stay. Hilton Homewood Suites and Marriott Residence Inns now offer not only free breakfast but also COMPLIMENTARY DINNER and COCKTAILS on Mondays through Thursdays!
- Make use of doggie bags. When you do eat out, eat half and save the rest for the next day. Two meals for the price of one! At least save your dessert for breakfast the next day.
- If your hotel does not offer free breakfast, then find a local restaurant or cafe. It will be cheaper than ordering room service or at the hotel’s restaurant.
- Double up on lunch– dinner is often twice the cost of lunch, so if you must eat out, eat early and order more.
Remember to save some for leftovers and ask for a box.
- Pack picnics. Most areas have picnic benches and parks. Even rest areas have pavilions and facilities for a quick lunch break if you are driving. You can’t get much cheaper than pb&j, and if you are unfamiliar with the local food, this might just be your go-to frugal food choice.
- CarRentals.com has a wide variety of search options. Pick up and drop off at the same location if possible. It might take a little extra time, but it always saves over dropping off in a different city.
- Don’t pay extra for rental car insurance. Most car insurance companies and credit cards will cover rental cars, just double check before you travel. Don’t get duped into paying extra – decline the rental car company insurance! One insurance you SHOULD be buying is travel insurance. You never know when something unseen or unexpected might happen, so be prepared for that. It will be worth the small upfront cost to save losing it all because of a disaster. Travelex Travel Insurance or Travel Guard by AIG will provide coverage for any budget.
- Pick the economy size- get the smallest car you can manage. It will save on gas as well.
- Car Seats – you might pay less to rent a car seat from the rental car company than paying extra to the airlines for bringing your own. If you are traveling with babies or toddlers, this can save not only money but time, hassle, and a sore back!
- Opt for filling up yourself – always decline the option for the rental company to fill up on return. You will always save more if you bring it back full.
- Join rental car rewards clubs. They will send out coupon codes and promotions. Often they will offer upgrades as well for no extra cost and you can rack up points with them just like an airline or hotel loyalty club.
- Trains, Trams & Subways – Research multi-trip discounts if you are heading to Europe. Most rails and metros offer 3-day unlimited travel cards that will cost less than purchasing individual tickets.
- Train Travel at night– If you have a long ride ahead, you might as well sleep to pass the time. Not only will it seem to go by quicker, it is usually cheaper. Put on headphones and bring an eye mask or travel pillow to make yourself more comfortable.
- Take a bus. Buses, although slower, are usually the cheapest way to travel.
- Don’t use taxis. Always research the public transportation. It’s by far the cheaper way to travel.
- Consider driving, even if flying seems shorter. Driving is almost always less expensive. You are in control, you don’t have to wait, you don’t have to worry about checked bags, security, and other airline hassles. Plus, you can enjoy the scenery and stop when you want to.
- Check your exchange rate before you decide on a country to visit. This might make a huge difference in what you are able to experience and spend while on vacation.
- Most centers of exchange have horrible rates, avoid them when possible. Google places to find cash in your local currency. Use the local google site and type in “where can I find the best exchange rate in (enter city here)? You may get a cheaper rate if you book using a different currency.
- Increase your radius – If you can handle a 20-minute ride, you will usually find a nice hotel at a cheaper rate outside of the city limits. It might even be safer too!
- Airbnb.com is a place where you can find gorgeous rooms/apartments and whole houses for rent by owners. Ranging from the day to a month, you can get a GREAT PLACE for a GREAT DEAL. I’d like to give you $40 on your next stay when you register now for FREE through my personal link.
- House Sitting. Trustedhousesitter.com is a great resource to use. For a low yearly rate (less than most one-night hotel stays) you will have access to thousands of homeowners all across the globe. They are looking for people to stay at their house when they’re away – for FREE!
- Ask for an upgrade. Smaller hotels will often upgrade you if you take the time to ask. The worst they can say is no.
- Research vacation homes on sites like Home Away & VRBO.COM. They are usually bigger, have more amenities and are cheaper than a hotel. When traveling with others and/or for a week or more these are a great alternative to hotels.
- Look for hotel suites – often cheaper than two separate rooms while still enjoying privacy.
- Hostels. If you are traveling light and don’t need more than the basic necessities, this can be one of the best ways to travel cheaply and meet up with other people.
Souvenirs & Shopping:
- Most airports offer duty-free stores. These aren’t always a great deal, but if there is something you’d buy anyway and can avoid tax, then take advantage.
- Sign up for the Living Social deals at the city you will be visiting several months in advance. Then if you see a great deal, you can buy it before you travel.
- Skip tourist hot spots. If you’ve already been there or aren’t that interested in the “popular” thing to do, seek out the local dives. Check out the back road diners and little-known wildlife areas. They are often less crowded and always less expensive.
- Bike or Walk – If you can rent a bike or just walk and site see, you’ll get fresh air, exercise and save on gas and other transportation costs. A win-win situation.
- Try the local specialties and delicacies. Food and art are cheaper when they’re produced in the area you are visiting. Try the local honey, cheese, wineries, and breweries. You might just find a new favorite.
- Semper Gumby (always flexible) – If at all possible, leave open an extra day before or after your original travel dates. Sometimes you can stay an extra day for the same price because it’s less to fly then next day.
- Vacation packages. Most package deals will save money. The more you can book in one place such as Travelocity, Priceline, or Hotels.com the deeper the discount they can offer.
- Traveling out of season – Florida is less expensive in the summer and Alaska in the winter. If you can wait until a week or two before or after the peak season, you’ll save a TON and it’s less crowded to boot.
- Stay close to home. –Where can you go within a few hours radius of your home? If you can book a long weekend, this is often more refreshing, less stressful and a lot less expensive than a long vacation. Most people have not exhausted all areas within 6 hours of their city. Pick a new place and go explore!
- Play around with times and dates when booking online. Sometimes sites publish rates based on the time & date. Take a week and run the same searches on several different sites at different times of the day and you might just score a big drop in cost.
- Express deals and name your own price. Priceline.com started the “bid your own price” deals. Unless you are dead set on a specific chain of hotel or car rental company, you will save up to 65% on these deals!!
- Always search for coupon codes and discounts, even after you have confirmed your plans. Most companies will price match and your credit card might refund the difference if you’ve found the same thing for a lower price. Sometimes you can cancel reservations up to a point and get a full refund.
- Sign up for reward programs – they are free to join. Go to POINTS.COM to enter all your current program numbers and find new ones to join. You can trade, buy or swap rewards points with other members if you need to use a different service. I have signed up for just about every airline, hotel chain and rental car service there is. You never know when you will get a great deal and use them.
- Head to the supermarket to stock up on snacks, toiletries, water, and food. You might need them and it will prevent you from overpaying at a tourist destination or your hotel. Some hotels do offer complimentary toiletries if you forget them, but they might not be what you’re used to. Grocery stores are always cheaper than convenience stores too.
- Senior Citizen, Student & Military Discounts. Most attractions like museums, amusement parks, and historical sites offer discounts. These can include children, seniors, students and members (or veterans) of the military. If you belong to AAA – this is another BIG SAVINGS for most attractions! Ask at every place you visit if they offer any discounts, sometimes they don’t publish them and it never hurts to ask.
- Discounts for Groups–If you are traveling with other families, this could be a big benefit. Call and ask, sometimes you can even get private tours if you have a certain amount of people attending.
- Ask the Locals – They are the most familiar with the must-sees, the best deals, and great eats around town. If you can’t find any locals where you’re staying, ask the hotel employees. It’s their job to make you feel welcome.
- City tours – These are fun to do. Trusted Tours and Attractions offer practically every tour under the sun! Most places offer bus, train, trolley, boat and walking tours. Some tours cater to a specific theme according to your destination, and most are super fun. You will always meet new people and learn the local history while you’re enjoying the area.