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8 Little Known Ways To Save Money On Vacation

There is something special and relaxing about vacation. People love planning for it, talking about it and dreaming about it. (Interestingly enough, there have been studies done that demonstrate that people spend more time planning vacations than planning for retirement, but I digress.)

One of the constants that clients hear us talk about is that we make recommendations on what to do financially, but, in the end, the money isn’t our money, it’s their money. We take the same approach to vacations. They’re important to take. (There are studies showing that as well.) People want to take vacations. Trust us, we get it. Heck, we even take vacations.

While we do understand, it’s in our nature to also try to save money when we vacation. Here are eight little known ways that can potentially save you a lot of money when you do take a vacay.

  1. Plan. One of the key ways to save money on vacation is to plan. (Planning tends to come up a lot in our line of work.) When you plan, there are a lot of discounts you can take advantage of. This is especially true if you’re flexible on dates and cities. While summer is one of the most popular travel times, avoiding the most popular destinations during the most popular times will lower the overall cost of travel. Additionally, plane and hotel tickets tend to get more expensive as you get closer to the travel date.

    While you’re planning, make sure to check for any discounts (AAA, AARP, online discount codes, rebates, etc.). All of those discounts and rebates can add up and make your trip a bit more affordable.
  2. Negotiate. This seems to be one area that people have forgotten about. (I was guilty of it myself until I stumbled upon finding out that auto service work was negotiable.) If you’ve already booked your room, call the hotel (or travel site) beforehand to see if there are any further discounts or if you can get your room upgraded for free. If you’re booking your travel online, most sites will honor a lower price found on a competing site. The downside is that you have to find it and bring it to them. If you’re staying at a hotel for a week and can save even $15 per night, you’ve just saved yourself over $100 with one phone call.
  3. Pack Food. No. Don’t pack everything…you’re on vacation. However, whether you just want to pack snacks and breakfast items (or purchase them at a grocery when you get to your destination), this is an easy way to save some of your vacation money for something else (or just save it!).

    (Pro Tip for #3. If you shop at a local grocery store, let the cashier know that you’re from out of the area. Usually they will let you use a shopping card they have available just for those occasions. That will further reduce your food bill.)
  4. Public Transportation. If you’ve never experienced it, public transportation can feel daunting. Don’t let that fear stop you from saving money. If you’re traveling to a city with a great public transportation system (New York, Boston, etc.), get a pass to use the subway and bus system. The cost savings will trounce what you’d otherwise pay to rent a car (and to park it!) or to use a taxi or similar ride-share service. If you have a smartphone, download the transportation app for the city you’re visiting.

    If you’re planning on going to Europe, research rail costs and transportation deals there as well!
  5. Staying Next Door. If you don’t mind a short drive, be sure to check out hotels and the like in the cities surrounding where you’re visiting. Adding a short drive to your trip can save you some big cash.
  6. Package Deals. If you’re planning on booking an airline flight, a car rental and a hotel, many times you can get discounts applied if you buy them all-together. Be sure to research each way so that you can make an informed decision.
  7. House Sharing vs. Hotel. House sharing platforms are becoming a very popular way to stay while vacationing. These can save a lot of money versus the traditional hotel setting – especially if you would normally plan for two or more rooms. When you’re researching your vacation, be sure to check out the house sharing sites as well so that you can compare (cost, location, etc.) to the hotels in the area. If you do decide to book through one of the house sharing sites, be sure to read the fine print of your contract.
  8. Tax Refunds. If you’re planning on traveling outside of the United States, be sure to understand the local tax laws for vacationers. More than 100 countries allow for sales tax (value add tax) to be refunded to vacationers from other countries. If you plan on doing some shopping at your destination, double-check the refund process before you leave. The savings can really add up!

While we’ve only listed 8 tips here, there are literally 100’s of ways to save money and still vacation. Keep in mind, your goal of vacation is usually to relax and have fun. You should still do that! That said, it doesn’t hurt to save some money along the way.

Safe travels!