I try not to take a vacation from being frugal, even when I’m on vacation. Sure, I’ll try to squeeze in a nice, indulgent dinner at a great restaurant, but I can feel good about doing it when I know I’ve saved money elsewhere. I’m game to save whenever and however I can.
That said, if you are looking for tips on how to save on airfare or hotel rates, I don’t have any secret tips to share. The web is full of advice on scoring those types of deals, so I’ll leave that to the experts. I’m sharing my solutions for saving in some more unexpected, unconventional ways – from strollers to snacks!
Getting There and Getting Around
Last year, we spent a week in Orlando, and as usual, I over packed. Another year older and wiser, I’m planning better for this year’s trip. Because my hotel has a washer and dryer in-room, I’m going to do my best to pack as light as possible, so I won’t have to pay checked baggage fees. Can I travel with just one suitcase? I’ll give it the old college try!
Savings - $75 for my family of three, plus time saved not waiting around the baggage carousel!
Add $30 bonus savings for needing a smaller car rental for less baggage!
On last year’s trip, I knew my three-year-old little guy wouldn’t last the day in the amusement park on foot. But stroller rentals were $15/day; I would have spent nearly $100 by the end of the week. Instead, I stopped by a big box store early in the week and bought a stroller for $15. Somehow I did end up taking it home on the plane, but I wouldn’t have worried if it got left behind.
Savings – Another $75!
Getting Some Grub
I always have a few tricks up my sleeve when planning meals on vacation. When staying somewhere for at least a week, I like to pick lodging that offers a full kitchen or at least a refrigerator and microwave, so some meals can be eaten in. I’m not a big breakfast person, so I’ll buy a box of cereal and milk to make my first meal of the day simple and inexpensive. When I eat out, I can bring home leftovers and eat them for lunch. And I always have a stash of snacks so I can fill up at home base for less money than I would spend out and about.
Savings – I’m guessing at least $150 for breakfasts and the occasional lunch.
Stocking up on food requires a trip to the grocery store, so before my trip, I scout out the closest grocery location and register for a discount card in advance. I don’t want to pay full price when I don’t have to.
Savings –$25 in grocery store rebates.
I also sign up for emails for nearby restaurants, so I can receive and print out coupons to make dining out more affordable. Deal-of-the-day websites targeted to your vacation destination may also offer discounted restaurant coupons that could save you up to 50%.
Savings –Another $20 in coupon discounts.
Getting Out and About
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a big planner. You’ll soon see how a little advance planning can really add up. If you know what attractions are on your wish list and how many days you plan to spend at each, you can purchase tickets online for discounted rates, or take advantage of economies of scale when purchasing ticket passes that cover multiple days. When buying tickets for my next vacation to Orlando, I saved big by buying my passes online and combining two attractions in one ticket package.
Savings –$100 for three attraction ticket passes.
So, how’d I do?
By investing a bit of time and making a few tiny sacrifices I can easily save $475! I’m thinking this will be more than enough to cover a special dinner out for three! Have I forgotten any cost-saving measures? Let me know some of your favorite tips and maybe that savings amount can top $500! Cha-ching!