How to Save Money on Vacation: 6 Financial Tips

Vacations don’t have to break the bank. However, not everyone knows how to save money or the most effective way to plan for a vacation. Planning is essential to saving money and traveling smart, and protects travelers from unnecessary fees and charges. With the help of our friends at Personal Capital, we’ve rounded up six tips to help you save money on vacation:

Decide Where to Go

The first questions to ask are where you want to go and what kind of experience do you want? Do you want a ski retreat in Colorado or Utah? What about a Maui Hawaiian escape or action-packed beach adventure? Once you’ve picked what type of vacation you want, then you can start planning for it. Some destinations will cost more than others, so picking the right destination for your budget will help decide how much you want to spend and where specifically the money will go.

Pick How to Get There

Airfare can cost hundreds even thousands of dollars. Book in advance directly through an airline to ensure you receive the best prices. You can also sign up for free price alerts, and if you fly frequently, don’t forget about loyalty programs and mileage rewards.

If driving to a destination, consider gas prices. Fuel prices tend to increase in the summer months, so traveling earlier, later and in the off-seasons can save you from paying higher prices. Also, consider the vehicle type and its gas mileage. A large SUV will likely get less miles per gallon and require more fill-ups. Renting a more eco-friendly vehicle will save money on gas costs, require less stops and provide you with your own personal transportation.

how to save money on vacation

Book a Vacation Rental

If you’ve ever booked a vacation rental, you already know it can save you thousands of dollars. Vacation rental users typically book a home suited to their needs for a third of the price of staying in a hotel. Many rental homes also come with home-like luxuries, such as a washer and dryer. Instead of paying high laundry and dry cleaning fees from hotels, you can do laundry based on your schedule and needs. Discover more reasons why vacation rentals are better than hotels.

Cook at Home

Many vacation rentals also come with fully equipped kitchens and dining areas. This allows travelers to cook at home instead of dining out every meal. With all the utensils and kitchenware provided, it’s easy to make family meals just like you do at home. If you have a food budget, make a grocery list and plan meals in advance. This helps you stay on budget and eat healthy, as well as saves money. With the money saved, you can plan for a more upscale dinner or that one thing you’ve always wanted to do. You could possibly even stay a day longer, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Use Public Transportation

Not everyone needs a car to get around, so using local resources is another great way to save money on vacation. Many travel destinations have public transportation, and some provide it for free. In Summit County, CO, the Summit Stage provides free bus transportation to local ski areas, downtowns, shopping and some residential areas. Laguna Beach, CA, also has a free trolley on weekends, with locations and pick-up/drop-off times throughout the city. Using public transportation not only saves money on travel expenses, but it also provides a way to meet and speak with locals.

Find Free Things to Do

Nearly every destination has free events and family fun. Museums are a low-cost and sometimes free attraction that is educational and entertaining. You can also find free festivals celebrating arts and crafts, food, music, and more. Gasparilla season, held in Tampa Bay, FL, offers events including parades, art festivals and live music, all free or at a low cost. National parks and recreation areas also provide free places to play and relax. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee – the most visited national park in the U.S. – is free to enter. Guests can hike, bike, walk, enjoy gorgeous waterfalls and more, all free of charge. Once you’ve picked your destination and travel dates, search for free events in the area. You may be surprised by what you find.

Get the scoop from financial experts! For more money-saving tips, read How To Save Money Traveling Like A Boss.