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How to Save On Your Vacation


Summer is here and that undoubtedly means that the season for vacations is here. My wife and I just returned from our annual vacation to celebrate our anniversary trip. As many of you probably know by now, my wife and I don’t make that much money. Yet, because we budget for our vacations ahead of time and find creative ways to save money in traveling, we are able to enjoy fantastic trips, that often leave people wondering how we afford to travel so much. There’s no big secret here – it’s all about prioritizing your spending so you can enjoy the things that matter.

Why People Waste Money When Traveling

Believe it or not, many families waste money when it comes to traveling because of various reasons. Traveling can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that expensive. Sometimes wasting money can mean that they failed to take a few extra minutes to plan ahead of time and find deals, while for others it is a result of buying into the traditional understanding of vacationing. The most important reason that people waste money when going on vacation is because of the mentality that they bring to vacations. For many people, vacation means a time to splurge. If you are working diligently to live frugally and be smart with your finances throughout the year, you may be tempted to get rid of all restrictions and buy into this mentality.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can budget for your vacations and still give in to the summer temptations. A great way to balance “letting go” of restrictions and financial responsibility is to establish a dollar amount for the entire trip. Then, use this to limit your spending, while allowing yourself to enjoy splurging. Not only does this allow you to give in to the temptation to splurge, but it forces you to find ways to save money on the big items (like transportation and housing) so that you can do some fun stuff while on the trip (like scuba diving, zip lining, tours, etc.).

Ways to Save When Traveling

Saving money when traveling is a win-win. Here is how I think about it: every dollar that I save on this trip is a dollar toward the next trip. If I can save a few bucks on something that isn’t that important so that I can have another great trip next year, I am going to do that. Here are several ways that I have found to save money when traveling.

Travel Light – My wife and I made the mistake on our most recent trip of packing too much when we were traveling. We checked one bag between the two of us (better than one for each of us, I guess) when traveling overseas so that we could bring our own toiletries and not have to worry about buying any of these items, but it cost us big time. We had to pay an extra $25 each way, for a total of $50. We had thought that international flights permitted one free checked baggage, but times have changed. Traveling light can also mean the difference between a small and large rental car. For traveling, less is always more.

Find Alternative Housing – Another great way to save money when traveling is to avoid the popular choices. There may be a popular brand name hotel or resort where you are going, but odds are that there is alternative housing available. Many private owners rent out their private homes for people going on vacation. Looking at all the options may allow you to find a more affordable housing, saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. We were able to find a cheap vacation rental for 1/3 of the price at the cheapest nearby resort. Talk about savings!

Stay Close – Another great way to limit the cost of a vacation is to stay close to home. While you could go to the extreme and do a “stay-cation,” saving money on transportation costs may be enough. Are there any big cities or nice beaches within a day’s drive from you? You might want to consider driving in order to save the high costs of airfare. Sometimes it’s not about where you go, but what you do.

Saving money when you are traveling doesn’t have to be tedious or time-consuming. These basic steps can help you save money and still enjoy your vacation. Determine what works for you and remember to enjoy your time away from the everyday happenings of life.

What tips do you have to save money on your vacations?

This post was written by Corey, a staff writer from 20’s Finances. He blogs to give young adults the materials needed to conquer financial challenges.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. We are somewhat food snobs (in a good way), but quickly find that restaurant food doesn’t really satisfy, and is quite expensive as well. Restaurant food tends to all taste the same after a while.

    As much as possible, we try to find a grocery or convenience store near where we are staying and buy food for at least two of the three meals we have per day. This helps keep us from overeating, plus we save money, feel better, and consider it to be an adventure!

    Sometimes we are so satisfied with the food we buy that we eat it for all three meals instead of two and a restaurant (it helps if we have a fridge and microwave in our room, but even without, we have managed). Sometimes, given the choice, we’ll have our one meal out at breakfast, instead of dinner, and that’s less expensive as well.

    • That sounds like great way to save and still enjoy yourselves.

  2. Checked out and for clues to name your own price or hotwire hotels. Hook up with priceline or hotwire using those sites. I use it to get a cheaper hotel when I visit my old college town. Go Illini!!

  3. staying home seems to limit the idea of vacation. I agree there should be smart vacationing but staying close to home limits the idea.

    • I understand what you mean – but surely there is something close to home that you don’t do on a regular basis. Play, museum, amusement park, etc. If you can group together these things, you can still get the feeling of relaxing and vacationing without going bankrupt.

  4. A few ways I have saved… stay in hostels rather than hotels. They’re not just for students anymore! In San Francisco, sometimes this can be used to avoid the 14% hotel tax. They also often have inexpensive, quick meals.

    Visit big cities with good public transit and skip the rental car. The exercise is good for you, and it can be quite a bit less expensive.

    Look for a continental breakfast included. This not only saves you time when you want to get ging, but can often save 2 people $20 or so for breakfast.

    If you’ve got a busy itinerary, skip the hotel with a pool. How many times have you paid extra to stay in a hotel with a pool, and then not had time to use it?

    Camp. Yes, it may remind you of your college days, but it can be a lot easier to camp than to get a hotel. Doesn’t always work, but when it does you can be paying $15-20 for a night instead of whatever hotel price you’ve selected.

    Just a few ideas…

    • Great tips – I’ve had friends stay in hostels in Europe and traveling for cheap.

  5. Wow! this is great!.. I am planning a vacation for me and mom in July one’s she get back from Philippines. I thought About staying close to our place coz she’s usually “sick’ when traveling too far!.. Thanks for this tips!!!

    • You’re welcome. Good luck planning the trip!

  6. Just out of curiosity where did you go? When my husband and I travel we make a rule that we cannot eat out more than once a day. We also go to grocery stores and buy things that we can make a few meals from like a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly. We also only buy souvenirs if they are meaningful (we don’t buy crappy knick-knacks that will sit on a shelf). You can also get great deals on sites such as Groupon or Deal Chicken for travel, but do a lot of research and read the fine print before booking a vacation. I think the most important aspect of saving money while traveling is really doing a lot of research to make sure the deal that you are getting is good. Also, about the hostels, when I traveled Europe I found that sometimes it is cheaper to stay in hotels! I got a 4 star hotel in Spain for only $25 a night, and hostels sometimes are just as expensive. Plus I personally hate hostels!

    • That sounds like a great deal at the hotel. We went to the Caribbean. We also tend to buy groceries to limit our food expenses.

  7. Sure, there’s a ton of variation with hostels as there are with hotels. Some only have dorm sleeping, but some you can get a private room if you plan ahead. (They go quick!) I stayed at the Hostelling International – Fisherman’s Wharf in a pivate room, which was quite nice. Small, but bunk beds, and private and it had free parking. I also stayed at the Green Tortoise in Seattle. It was dorm-room there (though they may have had private, I didn’t look then), but the location cannot be beat since it’s right next to Pike Place Market. At both, the people were friendly, they were clean, there was internet access available, etc.

    • Yes, I prefer a private room at hostels too.

  8. Another tip is to go somewhere you’ve already been, just look for new adventures. If there’s a city I like, I find the newspaper’s people’s choice top 100 for that year and look for new things to try that are popular with the locals. You’ll remember from the first time what was expensive and what was cheap, what worked well and what didn’t.

    • I have thought about returning to the place that we have been (especially when we like it), but I really like to see new places. I can see how this would be financially beneficial though.

  9. Packing light definitely saves money and a lot of time too. Think about all of the stuff you take on vacation and then think of all of the things you never even used or unpacked while vacationing!

    • Yeah, exactly. I wore about half of my clothes on our vacation. Lesson learned!

  10. I like to visit family since we can just bunk with them. Thankfully, my brother lives on the East Coast and my sister in the South, so we have plenty of vacation options!

  11. Those are some valuable tips you have provided. I agree with you on that it just requires a little bit planing to get most out of a vacation and also to save some of your hard earning.

  12. I tend to agree and disagree on somethings.

    Stay close? That just depends on where you live. I would personally like to get away somewhere far. Another state, another part of the world. I know this would be a bit more expensive, but thats what traveling is all about.
    As you said, budgeting for the trip would do heaps of help. Planning in advance.. wayyy advance if needed.

    But your other ideas for saving some coin work out well.

  13. Well.. spending holidays abroad with family is a fantastic experience. One need to plan for his trip before because several times many uncertain events may occur which may creates financial problems for you or may increase cost of your trip.

    So when you’re going on a trip, you should plan first.

    • Planning is definitely important! Thanks for the comment.

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