Saving Money on Vacation

Some people approach their vacation as a license to spend money.  So they don’t really pay attention to what they spend since they consider the same as getting off a diet and you can do what ever you want.  I’ve never been able to do that, even when it’s ok to spend more I tend to still save somewhat.  So often my vacations come under budget, yet still somehow I feel happy with the entire experience.

So how do you keep costs under control and still have fun?  Well there are lot of different ways to do that, but here are a few ideas.

  1. Control your distance.  The further you travel the higher your costs are going to be so consider why you need to travel far and what you want to do carefully.  We tend to rotate vacations from close to home one year and father out another to keep the average cost reasonable.
  2. Watch where you sleep.  Accommodations can suck up money very fast depending on where you stay. Yet if you never spend any time in the hotel room, why do you insist on sleeping in a really nice place?  I personally tend to go for clean, decent bed and reasonable price most of the time when I travel.  I also do splurge once in a while for a particular experience like the odd theme room or perhaps being really close to where we plan our activities to save on ground transportation costs.
  3. Skip eating out breakfast.  We often just eat our morning breakfast in the hotel room since we aren’t big breakfast eaters.  We tend to just eat muffins, toast, cereal and/or fruit.  We do eat a ‘big’ breakfast once a week with eggs, pancakes or french toast.  So we do eat that meal out, but save the cost on the rest of the week.
  4. Don’t assume free = crappy.  Free events and attractions or activities can often be a lot of fun and get you to try out new things.   Yes do spend money on those things you really want to do, but balance those off with a walking tour or hike as well or something else you like.
  5. Borrow Travel Guides from the library.  I haven’t used travel guides much in the past, but gave it try when I was in Hawaii.  I didn’t regret it as the guide helped us find lots of great places to eat in a range of prices and what was worth seeing.  Best of all after we got back we just returned to book to our library.  Or another option is to borrow a book from a friend if possible.

So how do you keep your vacations costs down and still have fun?  Or what items do you think are worth spending money on?

6 thoughts on “Saving Money on Vacation”

  1. Regarding controlling where you sleep – great tip. I’d like to add that you can work in the skip eating breakfast as well if you make sure you stay at a place that serves breakfast!

    Some chains also give frequent visitor free rooms (like buy 2 get 1 free). Good to sign up for those rewards as well.

  2. What is a” theme room”?? Sounds kinky.

    Agree on the breakfast and library books. Even hotels that serve” free” brekkie it tends to be unhealthy and unpleasant. Library guides even a couple years old are still okay in my experience.

  3. I slightly disagree about borrowing the book from the library. I disagree insofar if you lose the book and you are dinged with a replacement fee (which are way more than the book’s retail price).

    On the other hand, I do have travel books that now gather dust and are outdated!

    In the grand scheme of things, if you’re spending $500-1500 (or more) on airfare, $50-200 for hotels, and other expenses…then spending $15-25 for a guidebook isn’t a huge expense. Guidebooks (i.e. Lonely Planet) are worth buying…or borrowing from the library if you can be sure to return it (and not lose it)!

  4. I save on sleeping costs as my primary means. B+B’s are a staple, and even hostels (in Scandinavia – on par with a clean basic hotel for less). For large cities, I rent an apartment if staying more than 5 days.

    I also learn to eat on the run cheap – I do some Googling and find out the names of big chain supermarkets in the area. On a recent trip to Paris I saved a ton on most meals, then ate out at the local restaurant for dinner. Great food, reasonably priced.

    Also helps to research if attractions will let you take in food. Small backpack with a cooler bag can save you lots, and its healthier. I tend to buy drinks, though, as they are heavy to carry and I can appreciate the coldness on a hot day.

  5. Interesting topic. We travel a lot so we’ve learned a few tricks as well.

    Staying with family and friends is very cost effective. Just make sure to buy enough groceries/meals and help around the house to ensure you’ll be welcomed back.
    Travel off season. Rooms are more plentiful and less expensive.
    Use loyalty programs. Already mentioned by worth repeating.
    Use travel discount websites. We’ve had great success with priceline on larger cities, not so much in smaller centers.

    We load up on fruit, snacks and water at the start of the trip and always travel with a small cooler.
    Our experience with the free breakfasts included with most rooms is pretty good. It’s enough to get the day started.
    Eat lunch as the main meal out. Lunch menus in decent restaurants are generally cheaper than dinner, sometimes significantly. Lunch often runs till 4 PM so it can also serve as an early dinner.
    Share meals. Ordering 1 meal and an extra salad or an appetizer is cheaper and helps ensure it all gets eaten.

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