50 Ways to Save Money While On Vacation
By Rachel George
Traveling doesn’t have to always be expensive but most people don’t consider the expenses they rack up while actually being on vacation. Eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or taking an Uber to every destination can easily add up in the end. Honestly, think about it. Have you ever sat down to your finances after a trip wondering, “How did I spend so much?”
Here are 50 ways to save money while you’re actually on vacation.
Purchase plane tickets in advance.
Depending on whether or not you’re traveling around the holidays, booking your flights as early as possible can help you pay a cheaper price.
Travel during the off-season.
During the off-season, flights are cheaper but that also means fewer crowds and more opportunities to explore certain destinations.
Plan out meals and eating expenses.
Just like you would meal prep at home, set up a budget for how much you’d like to spend on food while on vacation. Go one step further, once you’ve exceeded your food budget, no longer eat out for the remainder of the trip.
Find a residence with a kitchen.
You can get a nice amount of groceries for about $50 that will last you a week, as opposed to spending $50 a night at dinner. Book an Airbnb or hotel suite with a mini kitchen and cook inhouse.
Use public transportation.
Major cities like New York, D.C., Atlanta, and more have used public transit systems as a form of public transportation for residents as well as visitors. You can get so far with a $2.75 MetroCard.
Check rental car packages.
For those of you who have to be mobile on vacation, check for packages that will allow you to bundle your rental car with your flight for a cheaper rate. Also, keep an eye out for discounts and coupon codes.
Consider a rental property over a hotel.
If you’re going somewhere for a few days, consider booking a vacation rental home instead of a hotel. It’s more personable, cheaper, and I saved $300 reserving an entire house using Booking.com for the same price I would have for a hotel room.
Check exchange rates.
Do your research and plan ahead for the exchange rate in various locations. Some countries have a fixed currency, while others fluctuate depending on the day. Order your foreign currency from your bank the week before or exchange it at a currency kiosk in the airport, before you board your flight.
Always keep some cash.
I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s so especially when traveling to other countries. Everyone doesn’t have a square reader or strong enough Wifi to send in an app.
Bring a reusable water bottle.
I was not prepared for the humidity and heat in China, but I was thankful for this water bottle to hold me off throughout the day. Pllus, drinks can add up quickly and drinking fountains are free.
Find housing accommodation in a central location.
Stay somewhere in the center of everywhere you plan to visit or outside the city. I know it may be hard to do but its possible and within a reasonable price. Remember, you pay for where you stay.
Keep an outfit or two in your carry on.
Say your room isn’t ready upon your arrival at an international resort, having an outfit or two in your carry on lets you be able to change clothes and continue on your day as opposed to waiting in the lobby for two hours and wasting valuable time. Remember, time is money!
Of course, this may not be applicable in all destinations, but it doesn’t hurt to get out and venture into the city and nightlife on foot. It will save money on transportation.
Purchase gifts or souvenirs at the local stores.
Save money by hitting up local flea markets or shops for all of your souvenirs and unique gifts. Those same items are usually more pricey in airports, resorts, or touristy areas, anyway.
Get a Multi-Attraction Pass or Discount Card.
The New York Pass is all-inclusive paired with the Empire State Building and other must-see attractions like Madame Tussauds, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and Madison Square Garden. See if the destination you’re visiting has a similar option.
Check community calendars for free or discounted events.
Looking to attend a local arts/music showcase? Check your local community Facebook page or calendars to see if they have free events going on in the area.
Download movies and shows to watch on your phone.
Download your favorite movies or shows before you board your flight. That way, when you have some downtime, you’ll have onboard entertainment without the need for purchasing WiFi.
Pack as light as possible.
Avoid annoying baggage fees and pack light with one of these stylish carry-on bags.
Search Sites like Airbnb and Groupon for deals on activities.
These sites are great for helping you find deals on local shows, concerts, restaurant specials, and more. You can use Airbnb Experiences to book everything from cigar making classes to photoshoots.
Hit up a local convenience store within walking distance.
Grab your favorite snacks, drinks, or other small items you may have forgotten at home at local convenience stores. You’ll wish you had when you’re craving candy at 2 in the morning or on a long train ride to the next city.
Use your reward points.
Redeeming your travel points with your credit card company could get you discounted/free flights or other sweet rewards like double points on future flights, discounts at hotels, restaurants, and free checked bags.
Save on your phone bill.
Apps like WhatsApp and Skype are essential when traveling abroad. All you need is WIFI to chat with your friends, family, and loved ones.
Consider hotel and car packages.
Through sites like Expedia and Booking.com, you can purchase your flight, hotel, and a rental car under a bundled deal for hundreds of dollars less than what you’d spend booking individually.
Bring your military ID.
You’d be surprised at the amount of restaurants and stores that offer military discounts. You’ll never know unless you ask.
Book a hotel room with breakfast included.
Most hotels offer a free breakfast, sometimes, continental, in the mornings. This checks off one less meal you have to pay for during the day.
Check for a cash-back surprise.
With a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can earn double points on travel and dining worldwide. They’ll even triple that with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The points are redeemable at any time during your vacation, while you earn points for your next vacation by shopping at their targeted list of stores and companies.
Use Apps Like Gas Buddy and Gas Guru
CNN named these two as the best apps to help find cheap gas near you. You can count on them for the lowest, up to date prices.
Become a tutor in exchange for room/board.
In exchange for a few hours of language tutoring sessions, Workway offers you room/board and free food.
Become friends with locals.
It always helps to spark up a conversation with a local. You’ll get the inside scoop on the best food options, good nightclubs, and corner bodegas that sell all the good snacks.
Consider going Camping.
Camping is one of the cheapest ways to travel, especially if you love the outdoors. Enjoy breathtaking views of nature during a hike up the mountains.
Become a house sitter/pet sitter.
Sign up for TrustedHousesitters.com to become an annual sitter. Stay in unique places for a year and while keeping their home and pets safe while their away on vacation, on your own vacation.
Shop with a purpose.
If you’re like me and you can’t help but to shop on vacation, hit up the clearance racks. Great clothes at an affordable price. In other words, if it looks like you could get it at home, put it down.
Use Apps like Yelp and OpenTable for dinner.
A friend introduced me to the OpenTable app. It lets you make reservations, read restaurant reviews and opportunities to earn reward points for free meals.
Skip the bar and the dessert menu.
Travel experts suggest keeping costs low by skipping dessert or any meal other than breakfast, lunch or dinner, especially when eating out. “Having lunch or dinner at a restaurant to taste the local cuisine is part of the travel experience, and you can do this on a budget,” Matt Kiefer said.
Take advantage of those coupons and subscriptions sitting in your email.
We all have hundreds of emails with coupons and discounts just sitting in our email, awaiting the day to actually use one.
Find a museum with free days.
Most museums offer free entry to guest on specific days, Los Angeles has a gang of free museums to visit. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta is free from 12 pm – 5 pm every second Sunday of the month.
Ship all items that don’t meet TSA requirements.
I went a little crazy shopping not considering the fact that was my suitcase already at 47 lbs when I reached my destination. Before returning home, I sent ahead a small box of clothes and toiletry items larger than four oz. home via USPS.
BYOB – Adults Only!
ICYMI: Disney Cruise Line allows guests over the age of 21 are allowed to bring six 12 ounce beers or two bottles of unopened wine or champagne on board and at each port. Enjoy your wine in one of the dining rooms for $25.
Never forget the snacks!
Keep your snacks on you at all times. Take a bite when you feel tempted to hit up a restaurant when talking around. But take into consideration when you’re next meal is before you eat it all.
Don’t tip on top of the tip.
Some restaurants charge an automatic service fee or added gratuity for groups over six people. If you’re not careful, you could be tipping twice, which means less money in your pockets. Use apps like Yelp and OpenTable are great for finding food and restaurants nearby.
Consider Travel Insurance.
I never go on a trip without travel insurance. It protects you in case of cancellations, sickness, or anything that would cause you to miss your flight, lose your luggage, or belongings. You can purchase flight insurance on your own or through the airline.
Alert the bank of your travel plans.
Some banks flag your account when you travel to a new destination, in fear of fraud or stolen identity. Give your banks a heads up the week before you travel. I’d hate for you to stranded in another country with no access to your money.
Stay with family and friends.
You can save $100’s by standing with a friend or family member during your vacation, especially if you’re just looking to explore a new city. Plus, they can bond with you, while taking you around to all the hotspots in the city.
Rent a bike and take in the sights.
Take in the view of Miami Beach or coast along the Brooklyn Bridge by renting a bike for a few hours. You’re getting in a quick workout while getting to your destination for a cheap price.
Save money and stay in a hostel.
This is great for solo travelers who like to hop country to country and nomads who don’t mind shared spaces.
Find remote work while you’re abroad.
Blogging and day trading are top jobs you can do while traveling, making up to $10K a month for posting pictures or trading stocks.
Take the overnight train.
Wake up in the next European city after taking the train overnight. Beats one less night in a hotel you have to pay for.