Most of the money we spend goes to necessities like housing, food, and gas, so when it comes time to let loose and go on a vacation, some of us get a little “loose” with our spending for that, too. But being frugal on your vacation pays. You can do more – or even go on another vacation later in the year!
Most people know the first rule of saving money on travel: book it ahead of time. But there are many other ways that you can get more value for your money.
Buy a package. Often, you can get a better deal if you buy your flight, hotel, and car rental together. Check sites like Kayak to see what’s available. When you’re searching, try out different combinations of times and dates to see which gives you the best price.
Stay in a hostel. This isn’t for everyone. You may have to share a bathroom, or you could end up sharing your room with one or more people. But if you can put up with it, you can get a room for a steal. To find a hostel where you’re traveling, try Hostels.com.
Find a vacation home instead of a hotel. If you are staying for more than a few days, it can often be cheaper to rent a vacation home than to get a room at a hotel. You’ll often find you have more space and amenities, like a full kitchen, as well. HomeAway is a great place to start to find a vacation rental.
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[Check Your Credit: Don't Guess. Know.® Get your free credit report and score. No credit card required.Leave the kids at home. You can cut a lot of the expense in half. Aren’t the grandparents always looking for more opportunities to see them anyway? And it may end up saving you some money on therapy bills in the future to have some alone time with your spouse now.
Visit the supermarket. Can’t bear to leave the children at home? Help keep the cost of eating under wraps by going to the grocery store instead of heading out to restaurants for every meal. You don’t need a fridge in your room, just make sure to buy items that don’t need refrigeration like fruit or crackers. You’ll save money, and likely find it easier to feed picky eaters in the family.
Take carry-ons only. With most airlines charging per piece of luggage, it pays to see how much you can take on-board with you. It’ll also save you time when you arrive. No need to wait at the baggage claim. Remember, you are allowed one carry-on piece of luggage as well as a personal item, which can be a large purse or laptop bag. You may be able to fit more items than you realize, but be mindful of the limits set for bringing liquids on board. You can always buy shampoo at your destination.
Find out your credit card and debit fees. If you are traveling abroad, this is a must. Some credit cards charge a special overseas fee to use the card, usually between 1 percent and 3 percent, while others charge nothing at all. Some provide advantages to using debit versus credit. And you may learn that one card is better than another to use when withdrawing money from an ATM. Check your account policies before you leave and if you travel often, do some research online to find the best credit card for travelers.
Let the hotel know if you’re celebrating. Going away to commemorate an anniversary or a birthday? Let everyone know, whether it’s your hotel, a restaurant, or your cruise line. Often, they’ll throw in a little something extra, like a bottle of champagne or dessert, for no charge.
Bring it with you. In any vacation location where you are essentially a captive audience, like an amusement park or an island, you will find that things are overpriced. It’s a good idea to pack touristy necessities like sunblock and camera memory cards, and if you can bring your own food, do it!
Looking for more ways to save? Ask the locals. They’ll often be able to point you to inexpensive or free things to do and offer recommendations for great local food.
Find out other ways to make the most of your money at Quizzle.com, where you can learn how to improve your credit for the best deals on life’s biggest purchases and lower your monthly mortgage payment so you can free up cash to achieve other life goals (like traveling!).