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When you think of a vacation, do you imagine transparent waters and lounging on the deck of a cruise ship? That kind of vacation may not be within the realm of possibility for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go on a vacation. These tips for vacations on a budget will help anyone find a way to go on a trip that’s frugal and simple—yet fun and refreshing.
Vacations on a Budget
Big cities aren’t the only places to have fun! Choosing a smaller city can give you beautiful views, a relaxing atmosphere, and huge savings. Think of where you want to go; then head to Google and zoom out! Find smaller cities nearby that would let you have a day trip into the big city while offering other things to explore.
Book Very Early or Last Minute
The best deals on rental houses, AirBnB, and even hotels are found by both the early birds and the procrastinators. The best time to book is typically either 4+ months before or waiting until a few weeks before.
This isn’t always the best advice for saving on airplane tickets, though; here’s how to save on plane tickets.
Be a Pinterest Traveler
Many areas have lots of fun things to see and do, but keeping it all organized can be tricky. Use Pinterest to organize free activities and events for each city or even by day. Think of it as a fancy list of bookmarks. Check out our 25 Free Things to Do board for free acivities in some of the most popular travel destinations in the U.S.!
Look for Passes & Deals
Many larger cities have city passes or other activity books available. Typically, these take the top attractions and give you a discount to buy admission to everything. The savings varies by city but ranges from 30-50% compared to buying tickets to each place separately.
Extra Tip: If you are traveling with young kids always look at each location for their kids rates. Many offer free entry below certain ages and you won’t need passes for those kids.
Plan Meals & Eat In
I know cooking doesn’t feel like a vacation, but a little planning ahead can mean savings hundreds of dollars. If we are going to spend money I’d rather it not be snacks and eating out for every meal. For an example of how we do this on a vacation, check out our beach week meal plan. If you do want to eat out a time or two, try to opt for a big lunch out—you’ll save an easy 30% off dinner prices and have less of a wait.
Be a Gift Card Traveler
We see deals all the time on gift cards to gas stations, restaurants, even airlines and cruise ships! Grab gift cards on discount when you see them and save them for vacation. This helps you save on so many parts of your trip; plus, it’s not going to add to your credit card bills! Watch for deals in the grocery and drug stores, and also look for bulk gift card discounts at Costco and Sam’s Club.
Looking for more tips for vacations on a budget?