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Ways to Save Money on a Vacation

Saving Money on Vacation Means Finding Deals on Transportation, Lodging, Entertainment and Food

Vacations are expensive, but everyone deserves one.  Here are some tips on how to save money on your vacation.  We'll focus on ways to cut expenses on transportation, lodging, entertainment and food.  Be creative and utilize the extensive resources available online.  Start by checking the websites of the airlines, buses or car rentals directly.  Then look at the major aggregators such as Travelocity or Expedia.  These aggregators gain access to plane tickets, hotels, cruises, car rentals and vacation packages that are not listed directly on the websites and can almost always beat the prices you find elsewhere.

Save Money on Transportation to Your Vacation

  • Start by checking the major aggregators listed above.
  • Choose off-peak times.  If you can time your vacation around the off-peak time of the year, you will pay 50% less or more for most vacations.  Also, choose off-peak travel days and times if you can.  For example, look for flights leaving during the middle of the week instead of the weekend.  Off-peak rates apply during different months in different locations, so research rates at several destinations.
  • Be flexible.  Don't insist on flying a specific airline or renting from a specific car rental company.  Look at all your options and choose the best value.
  • Take fees into account.  Baggage and other airline fees can often make a cheaper flight more expensive than you think.  Most aggregators will have these fees listed clearly.  If not, check the fine print.
  • Use shuttles whenever available.  Contact your place of lodging in advance and ask if there is a courtesy bus, low-priced shuttle, or other public transportation that can get you there for less.  Taxis are usually the most expensive form of ground transportation.
  • Look at buying packages.  Purchasing your lodging, airfare and rental car all in one package is often much cheaper than purchasing them alone.  Also, look at all-inclusive resorts where the transportation and food are included in the price.

Save Money on Lodging During Your Vacation

  • Lodging is often the most expensive part of a vacation, so saving money on this is important.  Try to be flexible - explore all your options.  Look at hotels, condos, vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, hostels and even campgrounds.
  • Read reviews! Nothing gives you a better feel for a property than a review.  Places are often described as nicer than they are, or closer to amenities.  Read the reviews on several sites to see what others thought of the property.
  • Look at a map.  Make sure that the property your renting is where you expect it to be.  Sometimes it is worth paying more for a place that you can walk from rather than paying for transportation and parking each day.
  • Book last minute.  Yes, a risky way to find a vacation, but if you are flexible, and the location is not sold out, you can usually find a heavily discounted price.  For example, our family recently traveled to Marco Island Florida, and because we found a house that was also for sale (they could not rent it out far into the future) the owner gave us 45% off the rental rate.
  • If renting a house or condo, deal with the owner.  Owners have more flexibility in pricing, and because you can cut out the middlemen by renting directly from the owner, you can often find better deals.

Save Money on Entertainment During Your Vacation

  • Ask your hotel concierge if they have any coupon books or deals with local entertainment companies.  They often make deals with local companies to help promote each others services.
  • Check with the chamber of commerce or visitors center to see if they have coupon books.
  • Check online for coupons.  For example, we were near Memphis on our vacation and wanted to see Graceland.  We went to their site and printed off coupons that saved us $6 per ticket.  When we got there, we didn't see one other person that had done the same thing.
  • Read reviews.  Go online and look up reviews on the different sources of entertainment.  Some attractions may not be worth the price and you can simply skip them.

Save Money on Food While on Vacation

  • Stay at hotels that offer free breakfasts or happy hour food.  A free meal is a free meal.
  • Eat where the locals eat.  Ask around and find out where the locals eat.  Most tourist areas are full of overpriced restaurants with mediocre food.  After all, tourist restaurants don't need to cater to repeat business like restaurants that cater to locals.
  • Dine in your room with carry-out, delivery, or better yet, some items you pick up at a grocery store.
  • When you do go out to eat, go out for lunch.  This will save you money because lunch prices are much less than dinner and you won't need to fight to get reservations.
  • Look for local coupon books and look online for coupons.  Visit restaurant sites, city tourism sites, and local dining guides to help you find coupons or dining specials.
  • Read reviews!  Find out what other people thought of the restaurants you are thinking about visiting.  There will always be some bad reviews, but make sure that the majority are positive.
  • Want more money saving ideas, visit our main page on ways to save money.

See Also:  Money Saving Ideas