5 Tips to Save Money on Your Vacation

by Washington Federal Team on March 8, 2012

Looking to cut back on your expenses this year, but don’t want to give up that annual family vacation? Don’t worry; there are some easy ways to save money and still get the vacation time you crave. Here are five tips that could help.

Tour Your Town

When you first move to a new area, you may spend your first few weekends exploring the place, but as the daily grind of work and organizing your new home set in, playing tourist can take a backseat to settling in. If you want a vacation where you can tour new sites, or explore an interest, why not start with your hometown? You don’t need to pay for a rental car, airfare or hotel room — but you still get the experience of discovering a city. Try looking up some ‘touristy’ activities in your town, such as ghost walks, Segway tours, museums and farmers markets. Sometimes we don’t need to go far for adventure – it’s right in our own backyard.

Splurge on the Guidebook

Whether you’re leaving town or not, a travel book can be a great resource. Instead of arbitrarily choosing a restaurant and hoping the fare is tasty and reasonably priced, the guidebook can tell you where to get exactly what you’re looking for, and whether in your price range. This option isn’t for everyone, but if you’d rather play safe than ‘wing it,’ it’s a great way to go. A guidebook guarantees that you’ll see the best sites in town without crippling your wallet.

Join AAA

The motor club has some fabulous discounts, and visiting the AAA office at your vacation destination is likely to net some good advice and great coupons. In addition to the benefits you receive at home throughout the year, AAA can help you every step of the way, from vacation planning to purchasing your luggage. The travel agents often get discounts that are not available to the general public, so you could end up with a better deal than you might find on your own.

Check out the Daily Deal Sites

Once you’ve chosen your destination, subscribe to some of the daily deal websites for that region, such as Groupon and LivingSocial. You may find fun activities that you hadn’t thought of. You could even discover a major discount for something you were planning to do anyway. The commentary on these sites often provides insight into what might be worth your time and money, and what may not. As these sites typically offer steep discounts, finding the right deal could really help stretch your dollars.

Get a Rental

One major expense while on vacation is food. Dining out for most meals is a quick way to rack up the bills. Avoid this by renting a home or an apartment with a kitchen. That way, you can stock up on food at the grocery store, cook most of your own meals, and save your credit card for fun activities. Sure, treat yourself to a fancy dinner or a nice brunch once or twice on vacation, but buying groceries ensures that you won’t be left famished and forced to blow your budget at a high-priced restaurant. Check out HomeAway.com for some great vacation rentals. You might be surprised at how comparable the prices are to a hotel.

A vacation doesn’t need to mean a drained bank account. Decide what is important to you: Are you looking to explore a new area? Get away from work for a while? Reconnect with your family? Get to your root goals in taking a vacation, and focus the majority of your budget on that. Don’t be afraid to be unconventional.

A vacation doesn’t have to mean money spent on airfare, lodging, eating out and all the other typical expenses. Instead, use some of these tips to get what you want out of your vacation without breaking the bank.

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