Taking a summer vacation can be a great way to get away and spend some time together as a family. In some cases, however, vacations end up draining savings accounts and causing more stress then they relieve.
The good news is that it doesn’t have expensive to go on a great vacation. I’ve listed below some tips that helped us save money on our last couple of vacations.
Compare prices on multiple travel sites
You can often find great travel deals online. Just be sure to compare prices across sites, as the results can be surprisingly different.
If you’re new to online travel planning, here are some sites that we use:
If you have any questions about local hotels, TripAdvisor is a great resource.
Handling a car rental for the trip
For our family vacations, we usually rent a car. Our cars are older and have pretty high mileage, so we don’t like to go to far from home in them. Beyond that, rening a car is typically cheaper for us than flying, and we’re usually able to make the drive itself relatively entertaining.
Using Pricelineâ€™s bid option, we got a ‘name brand’ standard size car rental for one week at $14/day (plus fees). For the sake of comparison, the ‘base’ rate from the rental agency’s site was about $220.
Another tip here is that many credit cards provide car rental insurance and, in some cases, your car insurance will cover the rental as long as you’re driving it in place of your own car. If you’re not sure, call and check.
Finding a good deal on a hotel
On our last trip, we went down to Orlando to see Disney World and Universal Studios. Once again, we used Priceline to bid on a three star or higher hotel and ended up saving around $50/night after taxes and fees. Our hotel was so close to Disney World that we could see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our window.
Dining out inexpensively
We usually try to find hotels that include breakfast. We then eat out for dinner and save the leftovers for lunch. This is especially easy if your hotel has a kitchenette.It worked pretty well last year. We checked and the hotel has a kitchenette.
A great way to find local spots with great food at a reasonable price is to read reviews online. One useful trick for this is to look up your hotel on TripAdvisor and read the reviews — many travelers talk about their dining experiences in the area. You can also check menus online with MenuPages, and even make reservations with OpenTable.
A few other money saving tips include skipping the appetizers — order a salad with your entree instead — and skipping (or splitting) dessert.
Souvenir shopping for friends and family
Picking up a few local gifts for friends and family is often a part of our family getaways. We are, however, careful not to buy too much, as we don’t want to create clutter.
The key is to avoid overpriced trinkets from souvenir shops. Instead, try to pick up a thoughtful gift that reflects the local culture.
Remember… The whole point of going on vacation is to relax and have fun. By planning ahead and saving up for your expenses, you can relieve a lot of the stress associated with going on vacation.
One last tip… Be sure to check out local activities/events in addition to the “big” attractions. Viator is an excellent resource when it comes to planning a memorable vacation.
What trips are you planning this year?