Fifteen Ways to Save Money on Vacation
A trip doesn't have to break the bank if you're smart about how you spend your money
Let's face it -- vacations can be expensive, and many Americans simply avoid taking them because of the cost. It can sometimes be hard to justify spending an exorbitant amount of money just to travel and enjoy yourself for a few days. Fortunately, the reality is that a trip doesn't have to break the bank if you're smart about how you spend your money.
1. Determine whether it is cheaper to fly, drive, or utilize another means of transportation
Before you decide on your mode of transportation, do some research to determine if it will be cheaper to drive, fly, or travel by other means, such as a bus or train. Comfort can certainly play into your decision, but if you're truly looking to save money, you may have options.
2. Look for alternative lodging
Your natural instinct may be to book a hotel room at your destination, but explore other options, such as Airbnb. You may be able to significantly cut down your lodging bill.
3. Make an itinerary ahead of time and stick to it
You can save money simply by having a plan and sticking to it. Before you leave for your trip, know exactly where you plan to go every step of the way, whether it's tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants or anything else. Figure out how much you will have to pay for each facet of your trip, and don't forget things like parking fees and toll roads. Add your bill up to the best of your ability ahead of time and try not to veer away from your itinerary.
4. Use price alerts
At most of the big travel sites, you can sign for price alerts to be notified when certain deals are available. When specials come up, these sites will email to let you know it's time to capitalize on cheaper booking.
5. Pack lightly
Packing lightly means taking less luggage with you when you're flying. The fewer bags you check, the smaller your bill will be. Some airlines even charge carry-on fees. In fact, it's not a bad idea to compare baggage fees among carriers before opting to fly with one in particular. Explore your options. TripAdvisor had a handy page1 that compares airline baggage fees.
6. Utilize loyalty programs
If you travel fairly often, you can reap significant savings by joining loyalty programs. As Money Crashers notes, "Even if you don’t have a corresponding credit card, it never hurts to join specific merchants’ travel loyalty programs. It’s almost always free, and the payoff is compelling: free or reduced-rate airfare, nightly stays, car rentals, upgrades, perks, you name it."2
7. Use credit card rewards
Often, credit cards will provide rewards that allow you to save money on various facets of travel, whether it be flying, car rental, or lodging. Check out Nevada State Bank's AmaZing Rewards® card* here.
8. Find attractions that don't cost money
Wherever you're headed, chances are there are things to do in the region that don't require money. Many landmarks, for example, can be viewed by simply showing up at the location. Parks are often great places to spend some time without having to pay an admission fee, as are some beaches. Research to find out what options are in the area. Even a scenic drive can be quite pleasant and cost no more than the price of fuel.
9. Look for free or discount days at tourist attractions
Look to see if any attractions you plan to visit offer free or discounted admission on certain days. This information will usually appear on the attraction's website. A hotel manager or concierge could also be very knowledgeable about this type of thing.
10. Eat fast food
If you're on vacation, you'll likely be eating out a lot. It can be tempting to check out the local hot spots and partake in fancy cuisine, but if you're looking to save some major dough, don't rule out dining at typical fast food restaurants, at least some of the time. Better yet, stick with those that have value menus. It might not be as exciting as other dining options, but your wallet will thank you, and once you're full, you'll likely be satisfied.
11. Go grocery shopping
Another way to save money on dining is to simply go to the grocery store and prepare your own food. This may depend on what your accommodations are like, but if you have a kitchen at your disposal, why not utilize it and save some money for other elements of your trip? You can also purchase snacks and bottles of water to take with you on day trips so you don’t have to pay premium prices at tourist attractions.
12. Go cheaper on your rental car
Being on vacation doesn't mean you have to have the most luxurious set of wheels. If you're renting a car, look for an economically feasible option rather than opting for bells and whistles that ultimately won't make a major difference in the enjoyment of your vacation.
13. Make your trip near friends or family
One great way to save money on lodging is to travel somewhere where you have friends or family in the area, who are willing to have you stay with them. This may even help you create some great memories at the same time. You can offer to treat for dinner one night.
14. Take advantage of continental breakfast
If you do stay at a hotel, there's a good chance it offers a continental or regular breakfast every morning. Generally, they offer a number of options, so you can probably find something adequate and reduce the cost of your trip by a meal each morning.
15. Start contributing to a vacation fund well in advance
Just as it can be helpful to have an itinerary planned in advance, it will also be tremendously helpful to have a nice vacation fund built up. You could potentially even have a savings account specifically for this purpose. This would be an amount of money that you are absolutely comfortable with spending on your trip. If you've planned well enough, you can stick to that entirely and not dip into the money you'd rather be saving for other things.
*Subject to credit approval. Terms, conditions and restrictions apply. See a banker for details.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC