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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.
SO many great tips! Thanks so much for sharing!!
We just recently took a vacation to the Smokey Mountains and since we are on a budget, we just weren’t going to spend a lot of money on “stuff”. We stayed in a condo where we could fix our own food and maybe go out a couple of times. We planned everything and I think that really makes a difference. I love Home Away as a website to find good deals on places to stay. Great post for traveling.
Those are all really great tips! I’m actually going to be traveling soon so will be utilizing a few of these. Thank you.
I am not planning any vacations this year but these are certainly very good tips! I will definitely hold onto these thoughts and bookmark this post for future reference!
Great tips! Thanks for sharing!
These are all super suggestions! We saved a lot of money at Disney by stopping at Walmart before we went to our hotel. We loaded up on foods that didn’t need refrigeration or prep, like fruit, donuts, granola bars, muffins, and snack packs. We’d eat the donuts and fruit in the morning, pack a few meal bars and fruit in our bags for lunch, then would spend money on dining out for dinner. Only having to shell out money for dinner saved us a ton!
What a great list of tips and resource information. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty – We hope to see you again next week.
Life With Lorelai
You’ve probably already seen this, but I just wanted to “officially” stop by and let you know that you’ve been featured at the #HomeMattersParty this week! We’d love for you to come check it out – the door is open! Here’s the link:
Great tips!! Now I just need to be able to afford to travel!! 🙂 #HomeMattersParty
Great great GREAT tips! I love travelling and I may be able to squeeze in an extra trip or two by following some of this advice.
This was an excellent post! The tips were amazing!
Great tips! We’re in the process of planning two trips, and I’m going to use a few of these tips to try to save us some money.
Great tips! My family took a trip to Florida a couple of years ago and it was super costly. I will definitely keep these in mind for next time!
OMGosh! These are the best tips! Seriously, they’re gold! I can’t wait to start using them and plan my next trip! I pinned it so I’ll see it when I plan for years to come!
Truly an epic post – packed with so many useful tips! My husband and I go on vacation at least once a year and I’m going to be looking at some of your ideas when we plan our next one! Thank you.
Great tips! I already do most of these already. Another idea to find interesting sites not on your usual tourist destinations is to check on roadsideamerica.com to check what quirky local places you can find. We used the map there of “muffler men” to stop to view a few of these on our recent road trip. It is free and can be interesting from a cultural perspective.
Laurina, Thanks so much for the recommendation! I’m planning a roadtrip so that will really come in handy.
These are wonderful tips! I really have the traveling bug and I would love to travel to San Francisco California and Hilton Head South Carolina this year. This post is filled with wonderful nuggets of information that I will have to keep in mind when planning my next trip.
A lot of good tips here. However, some airports won’t let you buy things in the duty free shops since it’s supposed to be for people leaving the country. At least the one in Detroit wouldn’t let me; the weasels! lol
Also, if you travel a lot get the travel cards for hotels, airlines and rental cars. Building up the points gives one great benefits such as free upgrades, free rentals and some other things.
Mitch, yes signing up for all of the rewards points programs have paid off big time for me! I think I belong to them all and trade points back and forth if I don’t have enough with Points.com and then I can see what points I have and with what company all in one place! Thanks for the tips!
I don’t really travel that often but your tips are great. I hope to travel more in the future and will definitely remember to come back here before I go. Thanks.
I like your tips, however, my experience with hotels and airlines is that I’ve gotten cheaper fares by going directly to them. A lot of times, if you call and are really polite and friendly, they will meet or beat the lowest available price and not charge a booking fee.
Thanks Christina! Yes, sometimes I do better directly, especially when I’ve signed up for their rewards/points programs. Thanks for the tip!!
Since we sometimes travel for a month or more, I’ve found the carseat fees can really add up; we have portable seats that fold up small and we usually fly Southwest so we don’t need to pay extra. However, it might be worth while to just buy an inexpensive seat and donate it when you’re done if it will be a long stay!
Great idea, thanks so much for that!!
Great tips for travelers. One comment re booking round trip as it’s less expensive. Why not try to sell the return ticket… for even 1/2-1/4 the price. You never know who might jump at the idea.
Patricia, I never thought about that! Flying somewhere and then renting a car to drive back if you sell your return ticket would be a lot cheaper. I didn’t know you could do such a thing. Thanks for the great money saving tip!
This is an amazing list. I found a lot of useful information. I am hoping to do a lot more traveling this year. I pinned this to my travel board.
You have some great tips on here. Love the multi country tip. Thanks for sharing.
These are some amazing tips and it must have taken you awhile to collect them all. I love the idea of keeping leftovers while on vacation. Most of the time we just throw food away even though we usually have a kitchenette in our hotel. Thanks for the money saving reminder.
Thanks for the tips!
This is such a timely post for me as we are currently planning our family’s summer vacation. I was able to score great airfares (yay!); I’ll be using the rest of your tips now! Thanks for sharing!
Awesome! I hope you get some great deals and have safe travels!
Thanks for these great ideas! I do most of the research on lodging and restaurants when we are getting ready for our vacation, and it is very time consuming at times to try and find the best deals. I’ll have to check out Home Away in order to save on hotel bills.
We are planning our annual trip to PCB Florida this coming June. Even though we are going with family, we still want to be frugal. These are great tips and I will definitely be utilizing some of them!
Thank you for sharing!
Great tips! I have pinned it and will refer back before we plan our next trip! With 4 kids, we need all the help we can get. 🙂 Thank you!
Hi Sherri! I remember you from your comment on my post. What a great list of travel tips you have compiled! I pinned it to my Budget Travel board for posterity. Cheers!
This is a great list. There are so many things to think about when planning a big vacation and this helps out so many tips in one convenient place. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for all of the great tips.
You are speaking my language! I love to travel! I also think it’s essential to do it debt free. SOOO many of your great ideas, I have done over the years. However, I learned a few more too! So thanks! Click the link below to see my debt free travel post – more than 20 countries!
Wow, I’ve learned so much about saving money while travelling from your post! Thank you 🙂 I didn’t know round-trip tickets are usually cheaper than one way. I also didn’t know about points.com, what a great concept!
I love the tip about looking at house sitters. I have never thought of that and what a great idea that is!
Wow, there are a ton of great tips there! When I travel I try to pack light, but I really like the meals idea of eating a late lunch and keep left overs for dinner or a picnic!
This is such a usefull article for me right now, since I am preparing for travel in another contry for a week. Thank you for your advices! Kiss!
I remember using the doggie bag idea when on holiday in Switzerland as a student! We also found that supermarket cafes were a very frugal place to eat there. Thanks for sharing your list 🙂
Great tips to save while traveling. Thanks for sharing.
This is a topic that is very near & dear to my heart, since I am Mommy Maleta, that’s suitcase in English! Thx for all these wonderful travel tips!
I am traveling again real soon. Thank you for the useful tips and what to look for.
So many great tips! I’m always looking for ways to save on my vacations – thank you!
You are welcome, I hope some of these can save you money. Thanks for stopping by!
Oh gosh! I need this so much. Thanks. I am dreaming of travelling one day but can’t even dare to plan because I’m too scared it might cost us a lot. I know I have options but I’ve never really dug down deep. Thanks for your tips. Very helpful especially if you’re not travelling alone..
Hi Camille, I’m so happy I could help! I love to travel and used to shy away from it because I wasn’t sure how to get the best deals. No more!
These are great! I have actually signed up for LivingSocial and Groupon deals in cities I know we’re about to visit. It can help you learn a bit more about what the city has to offer, even if you don’t buy one of the deals 🙂
Great tip Emma, thank you!
Wow! What a great list of resources. We don’t travel a lot, and always by car; but we bring most of our own food. I’m pinning for later reference!
Loads of traveling this year! These are great tips to help keep costs down!
What a wealth of trips! I keep eyeing Airbnb; one of these days I’ll actually book something. I’m also excited about the housesitting site; do you know if families can take advantage of that, or just adults? I’m not sure if I’d dare take my kids to a house that some one is trying to protect, lol!
Hi Jennie, Thanks for stopping by! I’ve used VRBO.com and Airbnb.com and have been very pleased. Trustedhousesitters allows the homeowners to designate whether or not they will allow families. I would say 20% of the listings that I’ve looked into DO allow families with children! I know what you mean though, not wanting my kids to destroy someone else’s home. 😉 I hope I’ve answered your question!
Great ideas!!! I need to write some of these down as we will be traveling this summer! Surprisingly, some of these I knew! I guess I am a better saver than I thought previously! Thanks!
As someone who is always looking for ways to save money for my family of seven……I enjoyed this list. I always love to read tips from like-minded people. Thanks for posting.
Thrilled to hear you enjoyed this!