One of the great traditions many of us enjoy is the summer vacation. With school done for the year, it's time to start thinking about what you want to do this summer.
Unfortunately, a summer vacation can get expensive if you aren't careful. If you want to make sure that you don't break your budget with your vacation, you need to have a good plan for saving money. As you look ahead to your summer fun, here are 10 ways to save money on your vacation.
1. Save for your vacation
Like anything else, saving in advance instead of relying credit will save you money by earning interest instead of paying interest. Look ahead and estimate how much your vacation will cost. Divide that cost by how much time you have (in weeks or months) and set aside money in a high-yield account. This strategy doesn't mean that you can't use credit cards, though. A savvy way to save is to set money aside, and then use your credit card (earn those points). When you get back from vacation, use the money you saved up to pay off the entire credit card balance. You'll have earned interest, and cash back.
2. Find the best deals online
Check out websites such as Expedia and CheapOair for deals on hotels, attractions and cruises. In many cases, you can do even better if you bundle your vacation services. These sites aggregate the best deals, and you can even find discounts on entertainment and attractions when you use these sites to book a vacation bundle.
3. Check the direct offers
Before committing to any offers on the sites above, compare to what you can get direct from the airlines and hotels to confirm it’s a better price. As with any purchase, you want to shop around. Find out what you can get buying direct, and what you can do bundling through a third party. Then make your reservations in the way that costs you the least.
4. Reviews, photos, and tips
Use Trip Advisor to compare hotels. This site has many reviews for each hotel and you can find out which is the best for your spending budget. Sometimes, it's worth it to pay a little extra for a better experience. You want to make sure that your hotel is truly a good deal for the money, since sometimes you get what you pay for.
5. Save on your vacation with coupons
Look for coupons on the websites of attractions or restaurants you plan to visit. Almost every zoo, museum or amusement park has discount coupons on it’s web site, but you can likely get a better deal by picking up a CityPASS for the city you're visiting. You can also buy a book full of local coupons on Entertainment.com. If you plan to stay in one place for awhile, bring grocery coupons to save on food when you shop at local stores.
6. Auto club discounts
Are you a member of the CAA or AAA? These memberships can get your further discounts on hotels and rental cars. Stop in your local branch before you go and get free maps and travel brochures. They also offer travel agents, but in my couple attempts to use them, they weren't able to get me a better package, and would then charge a fee on top of it.
7. Pack efficiently
Don’t bring more clothes than you really need and roll your clothes so they fit into fewer bags. With many airlines charging for extra bags, this can be an easy way to save money. At the same time though, don’t over stuff a large bag as it will put you over the airline’s weight limits and they’ll charge extra for that as well. Efficient packing can also save you money on gas when you go on a road trip vacation.
8. Stop pulling out your wallet
If going to a beach destination, have a look at all inclusive resorts. With food, drinks and the many activities included, this will save you from constantly pulling out your wallet throughout your vacation. It's a good way to find peace of mind. Cruises can also be all-inclusive and cost-efficient. You can visit multiple destinations without re-packing every time you move on.
9. Bring your own snacks and drinks
Going to an amusement park? You might want to bring some snacks and bottled drinks in a backpack or purse. The prices at the parks are amazingly expensive. Bringing your own is a good way to save money for buying souvenirs.
10. Travel in the off season
Not only can travelling in off-peak times save you money on airfare and hotels, but the crowds will be smaller at most places you visit. It might mean going during a fall break, and having staycations during the summer, but it can be just as fun, and much better on your budget.