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How to have an amazing [cheap] vacation

Save money on vacations!

Taking a vacation is important to our health – to de-stress, recharge and refresh. Even just a little time away is really be important to your life and is certainly worth the boost it can bring to your quality of life and of your family relationships.

The problem for many though, is that vacations can be costly, and we simply may not feel like we have the cash to shell out for a little time away.

Here are a few cheap vacation ideas that will hopefully inspire you to take some time off.


A staycation is really just a state of mind – you don’t leave your city. It simply gives you a chance to get away from the stress in your life and be a tourist in your own city. In recent years, more and more people have opted for staycations because they are far less costly than a traditional vacation involving lots of travel.

Be sure to get into vacation mode and really step away from the day to day routine. Plan your staycation, too – scheduling activities at local attractions such as theme parks, museums, public parks, free shows and the list can go on and on. Be sure to check on discount sites like Groupon and WagJag for deals on attractions. For families, look for discounts and freebies for kids.

Go camping

If you are the type that loves adventure, a camping trip is a great budget-friendly vacation option. All across Canada, there are so many great camping spots. Check out this Camp Ground Search Engine and this Learn to Camp video from Ontario Parks.

Cheap Camping

Book last minute travel packages

If a tropical destination is what you desire, you can always find plenty of reputable last minute travel packages available at a highly discounted rate. The catch is that you need to be flexible – you need to be able to leave and come back on very specific dates. You also need to be flexible as to your destination.

For example, after quick search on Travel Last Minute, I found a 7 night, all inclusive 3 star resort in Cuba for 2 people for $970 including taxes. Yes, including meals, hotel and airfare, departing on July 10th.

Here are a few more last minute travel sites:

Save on hotels & lodging

The costs of a hotel room can be extremely costly. You can save on hotels by:

1. Going for a 2 star over a 3 or 4 star hotel. Of course, don’t stay in the slums, do your due diligence and read reviews on TripAdvisor, but don’t pay for a room you’re not going to spend much time in (and if you are planning on spending lots of time in your hotel room, you may want to stick to the 3-5 star hotels).

2. If your group is large enough, or if you are vacationing with another family, you can check out vacation rental homes and condos. This is also a more spacious option as well, equipped with kitchens (this helps you to save money on food) and laundry facilities.

A few popular sites for home and condo rentals:

3. Stay away from main attractions, but close enough that it doesn’t take you forever to get there when you want to. Often, hotels in the core attraction area will be double or triple the price of the hotels just a few kilometers away.

4. Stay with family or friends. If you are looking to visit an area where family and friends live (and if your relationship can handle it!), try to arrange staying at their place. Perhaps offer to return the favor at another time.

Cheap Hotel

Book smart – be informed

Do your research and compare. There are so many booking sites that offer discounted flights, hotels, car rentals, attraction tickets and vacation packages.

Look around for the best prices, and if you can be flexible with the dates, you will notice a big savings. In some places, one week in August half the price of one week in July. It really depends on the location and the time of year. Generally, summer is considered peak season and is more expensive – with weekends being the highest.

Websites such as (my favorite, always seem to get the best deals),, and offer great deals where you can get unpublished rates on hotel rooms. These are bargain basement prices on great rooms that the hotel hasn’t sold at their standard rate. the only catch with this, is that you don’t know what hotel you are staying at until after you book.

Save money on food

Another big expense while away from home is usually your food costs, but it doesn’t have to cost so much to feed yourself while you’re away.

1. Eat on your room. If you are lucky enough to have a fridge where you are staying, you can stock up on drinks and snacks at a local grocery store. Eat breakfast, such as fruit and cereal, in your room and you’ll save a bundle.

2. Buy and bring your own snacks. Try to avoid food stands as much as possible, by packing your own snacks and drinks for the time you’ll be out.

3. Eat lunch at restaurants instead of dinner. Since you are on vacation, you probably do want to eat out and treat yourself. If that’s the case, consider eating a late lunch out, as many restaurants offer great lunches for a lot less than the dinner price. Then, simply eat a light dinner.

Cheap Food

Watch for discounts

Try to take advantage of whatever discounts are available to you. Wherever you’re doing, always ask about group discounts (sometimes groups only need 6 people to qualify), membership discounts (CAA), senior discounts (sometimes 55 and up get the discount), kids eat free, etc.

As you can see, it really is possible to have an amazing vacation without spending a ton of money to do it.

You can take time off by yourself or with your family and not have to worry about a hefty credit card bill when you get back. Now that’s something to smile about.

Do you have any cheap vacation ideas? Please share in the comments.


  1. Tanya

    I love cheap vacations! Although do be cautious of 3 star resorts. My travel agent (who is also a friend) once told me that she would never book someone in a 3 star Caribbean resort as the difference between a 3 and a 4 is that a 4 star is required to have all water brought onto the premises be filter, where a 3 star doesn’t. This means any food may be prepared/washed with unfiltered local water, which may contain bacterial that our Canadian bodies are not used to! The last thing anyone wants on a vacation!

  2. Poor Fat Chick

    My boyfriend and i often stay in hostels when travelling. Many great hostels have private rooms, so we get that and share the bathroom facilities with everyone else. We don’t spend much time in the hostel when we travel so its a great way for us to save some money.
    We have also met some great people in the common areas of hostels.. you will be surprised who you will meet.
    I do recommend though reading the reviews of hostels. Some of them can be pretty scary and noisy

  3. CMB

    Like Tanya, I was also going to comment on staying in the Caribbean. I’ve been a few times, and I would tell anyone DO NOT stay in any hotel that’s less than a 4-star. A 4 star over there is not the same as a 4 star here. In terms of food and water, you don’t want to take any chances with contamination. The locals are used to the water there, but our digestive systems are not. You might end up spending half your trip in the washroom! It’s worth paying the little big more and getting a 4 or 5 star when it comes to the all-inclusives in the Carib.

  4. christine

    We often sent up a tent in the backyard or at families and sleep in it. We even do backyard staycations where we just sit in the backyard catch some rays and maybe splurge on ordering dinner in. We all work so hard to have nice backyards why not enough it more.

  5. Nicole

    For our road trip holidays, I save up gift cards for Starbucks, Tim Hortons, etc that I win or exchange points for. That way, we get to stop & have extra special treats along the way as well as the food we pack.

  6. Lisa

    Grocery store is a frugal traveler’s friend. Try to find one within a km or 2 from where you’re staying. They have prepared meals… Quite a few choices. Supplement with fresh fruit from the same store. I always brought a kettle. Bar fridges are large enough to accommodate milk for tea and cereal. I also bring a mini bottle of dish soap, and one plastic plate/bowl/cup/cutlery for each family member. The money we saved by not paying for either restaurant meals or a kitchenette upgrade allowed us to spend our money on really fun activities we otherwise could not have afforded. We did one restaurant dinner the night before the road trip home. That last meal was a treat because we were not sick of eating out.

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