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Save Money on Vacation and Still Have Fun

By on March 28, 2011

Nothing ruins a great vacation opportunity faster than having to count every last penny to make sure you have enough money to make it back home. Taking a vacation is the perfect way to relax from your normally stressful life, and for many people, is the only time they can fully unwind and appreciate downtime with their families. If you don’t have a ton of money to spend on vacation, it can be difficult to relax and try new things.
Here are a few tips to help you save money when you travel but still have fun.


Skip a Rental Car:

You don’t always need to rent a car when you travel. Some cities and destinations are perfect for walking sightseeing and using public transportation and it can often save you quite a bit of money over renting a car. You can call the hotel you plan to stay in before you arrive and ask about the public transportation options and closest subway or bus stop, and whether or not there are multi-day passes and other cost saving measures available.

Pack Your Own Meals:

One of the biggest expenses when traveling is eating in restaurants for three meals a day. You don’t have to get three restaurant meals a day in order to eat on vacation! Consider packing non-perishable items for breakfast and/or lunch and eating dinner in the restaurant of your choice. Alternatively, you can select a hotel that includes breakfast daily. Start each day with breakfast in the hotel, and if possible, take a piece of fruit or a bagel for later. If your hotel or vacation rental has a refrigerator, you can keep many more options handy for inexpensive and quick meals.

Look for Free and Discounted Entertainment Options:

You don’t have to pay for group tours or go to all of the touristy attractions that charge admission to experience a new destination. Think outside the box and consider local museums, parks, beaches and free attractions. You can get a local map and take a self guided, walking tour of the area. Visit the local library or coffee shops and look at their bulletin boards – this is where members of the community will post announcements and information about local events. Many of these events would be great for the budget traveler!

Look for Combination Passes for Local Attractions:

If there are a number of tourist destinations you intend to visit on your vacation, check into a combination pass which gives you a discount for purchasing a ticket to more than one destination at the same time. You can find these through the destination’s visitor’s bureau website, through travel agents, or sometimes through your hotel. Combination passes are most common in high tourist areas where there are many attractions in the same location.

Look for and Use Local Coupons:

If you’re going to stay in a destination for awhile, you can make use of coupons for dining, rental cars, and attractions. There are often books of coupons you can purchase ahead of time to save money on all of the local restaurants and attractions. You can also purchase the local newspaper and clip coupons or watch for specials at local restaurants – like happy hour, kids eat free, or buy one get one free nights.

All of these options will help save money when on vacation, but none will reduce the amount of fun and relaxation you experience while traveling. Sometimes thinking a little outside the box will help keep more money in your wallet, but can be just as enjoyable.

photo by danesparza


  1. Carrie

    3/29/2011 at 11:50 am

    Regarding use of coupons on vacation, after we have decided to visit a place, even if I haven’t booked it yet, I add that city to my Groupon/Living Social/etc subscriptions. You can get great deals on restaurants and the occasional activity. It’s also a good idea to search the deal sites for when is running one of their crazy 80% or 90% off promotions, and use the certificates in the destination city. Be sure to check first for their list of participating restaurants to see if any of them appeal to your tastes before buying a certificate. Most publish menus and prices; and Google takes care of the rest that don’t. Look up reviews for them on Trip Adviser. And Trip Adviser is great for finding out the public transportation options as well as other free activities.

  2. Stacy

    4/3/2011 at 12:10 am

    In regards for coupons if you are staying there for any length of time. There are the entertainment books and what some people don’t know, you can get an online membership that entitles you to use other cities books. We did this when we went on family (and as a couple) vacation a couple years ago. We used a number of coupons for restaurants we would otherwise not have found. is where we found it. It is $4.95 a month or $30 for the year. We get our money back and then some just using the coupons from our city and we also save some trees by only using the coupons we need. I hope this helps.

    We also used the Go Card when we went to Los Angeles and will be using it again when we go this summer. The savings we get from the card pays for itself with just a couple places we go. We don’t just go to the amusement parks and this helps us find places to go we may not otherwise go.

    We have also found that by googling the place that we are going to see, we have found loads of free things to do as well as cheaper places to eat or stay. This time that we are going to Los Angeles (we live in Canada) we found a place that will take the gift cards that we got through our reward miles. It will save us over $500 enabling us to be able to stay an extra couple days. :o) I also used our searches to find places that have coupons to places we frequent and will be saving money on those as well.

    We need to get a car due to one of my kids being in a wheelchair and the other being a type 1 diabetic. It’s safer for us to use the car rather than depend on transportation we don’t know. We have found that if we continue to watch for sales, we can save money on that. Since we need a bigger vehicle due to the wheelchair size, I can’t necessarily go for just the cheapest vehicle I find. However if you do have a favorite rental agency and you find a sale at another place, it doesn’t hurt to show that to your agency. I saved over $100 doing this as the companies usually will want a guaranteed vehicle rental than chance that vehicle sitting for the week.

    I hope this will help someone. I know I will still be searching right up until we go.


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