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15 Ways to Save on Your Next Vacation

Everyone deserves a nice vacation. It’s your chance to get away from the daily grind, relax your mind, and create memories with your friends and family. While the destinations to choose from are limitless, your budget is most likely not.

Whether traveling cross-country or across continents, there are many ways to save money while on vacation. Here are 15 tips to help ease your vacation planning and make your hard-earned money go further.

How to Save Money on Vacation

1. Open Up a Vacation Savings Account.
First and foremost, consider opening a savings account dedicated to your vacation. This tactic helps keep your vacation funds organized and makes it easy to create a realistic budget. You can even use services, such as Payroll Deduction or Automatic Transfers to automate your savings.

2. Create a Vacation Budget.
If you head off on vacation without a budget in place, you may regret it later. People tend to overspend when they’re having fun. Creating a budget for your trip and setting spending limits helps to ensure you enjoy yourself, but don’t come home with a hefty credit card bill. When making your budget, leave a little wiggle room should unexpected expenses pop up.

3. Plan Early.
The sooner you begin planning your vacation, the more likely you are to score travel deals. Keep an eye on airfare prices – you’ll typically save more the further out you book. Travel websites and apps are great tools to keep you notified of sales and price changes. Also, try to keep your dates flexible – it’s often cheaper to fly on weekdays than on weekends.

4. Travel Off-Season
Traveling to your destination during the off-season is a great way to make your budget go further. Airlines and hotels tend to drop their prices when there is less travel demand.

5. Pack Light.
Packing lightly can help you avoid checked-bag fees on airlines. As a bonus, you can move around easier with lighter luggage – making it easier to use public (and less expensive) transportation options.

6. Review Exchange Rates.
Be sure to review the exchange rates if you plan to take an international vacation. Try to avoid places where the exchange rates are high compared to the dollar, as this will limit your spending power.

7. Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees.
Financial institutions charge foreign transaction fees every time you use your credit card in a foreign currency. They can quickly add up if you aren’t aware of them. Before traveling internationally, check if your credit card offers no foreign transaction fees. If so, use this card to pay for items on your trip.

8. Take Multiple Credit or Debit Cards.
While traveling, especially internationally, it’s wise to bring at least two credit or debit cards with you. Carry one with you as you explore your destination and leave the other in the hotel safe back in your room. Should you lose your card, you won’t be stranded with no way to make purchases.

9. Consider All Lodging Options.
Explore all options when it comes to lodging, including hotels, motels, hostels, owner-hosting sites, campsites, and bed and breakfasts. When choosing where to stay, be sure to compare amenities as well. For example, a place with a kitchen may cost a bit more, but you could save significantly by cooking your own meals. You may also consider traveling with a group to qualify for group discounts.

10. Cash in Your Reward Points.
If you have unused credit card rewards or belong to loyalty programs with airlines or hotels, consider cashing in your points or miles. This strategy is a great way to extend your budget and allows you to spend more of your savings on activities at your destination. As a bonus, many hotels waive costly resort fees when booking with points.  

11. Research Free Events & Attractions.
Before heading off on your trip, spend time researching local events at your destination. In addition to free family and community events, many museums have free or discounted days for the general public.

12.  Take Advantage of Special Discounts.
Your student ID or AARP card can often get you discounts on car rentals, trains, museums, hotels, and more. Many places also offer discounts to first responders or those serving in the military. Never be afraid to ask for discounts!

13. Make Lunch Your Main Meal.
Eating out is typically one of the most expensive parts of a vacation, especially when traveling with a family. If you want to experience local restaurants, consider going at lunch. Many restaurants have lunch menus with the same options available at dinner but at a much lower price.

14. Collect Experiences, Not Things.
Instead of buying costly souvenirs that can weigh down your bags and increase costs with the airlines, focus on experiences. Usually, these experiences are more meaningful and create memories that will last a lifetime.

15. Avoid Credit Card Debt with a Vacation Loan.
Credit cards are one of the most convenient ways to pay for just about anything today. However, it’s easy to rack up debt – especially when having fun on vacation. Consider a vacation loan instead. With a set amount, it makes budgeting easy. Plus, with designated payments, you’ll likely pay off the balance quicker than only making minimum payments on a credit card.

We’re Here to Help!

While planning a vacation is exciting, you may be surprised by how quickly the costs can add up. But, with a little bit of planning, it’s easy to find ways to save and make your budget go further.
If you’re interested in opening a Savings Account specifically for your vacation or want to review vacation loan options, we’re here to help. Please stop by the credit union or call 800-410-0501 to get started today.


Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.