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See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RMN = Retail Me Not
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Over the years I’ve posted tons of tips about planning for summer vacation, so this year instead of reinventing the wheel I’m going to summarize my best tips as well as share reader tips that were shared on a recent Facebook post. Some old posts you might want to check out are:

4 Frugal Planning Tips
6 Tips for a Cheap Beach Vacation
How to Have a Great Vacation on a Tight Budget
Planning a Frugal Vacation

Like Christmas, summer vacation is something that probably happens every year, and so over time there are tricks and tips you can learn to make it budget-friendly and simple.

Planning for Summer Vacation 2024

Plan ahead and set a budget

The most obvious first tip is to PLAN! On a recent Facebook post, Abby N. said that her family typically plans trips 1-2 years in advance so they can save up the money and plan for the cost. This is a great way to get ready for your trip. For example, if you spent $600 last summer on a vacation in July, start setting aside $50/month in August to get ready for the following year. Even if you’re just now starting to plan, you can still divide your overall budget by the number of months until then and set aside money each month.

Look for deals on everything, especially lodging

There are always ways to save if you’re wiling to look. You can save on lodging by using sites like Hotels.com, and you can save on activities like Kirsten A. by using Groupon. Christy M. shared this advice:We travel quite often for sports… I book through my Ibotta app, which leads me to another site such as Hotels.com or booking.com and continue to use just one of those programs to earn free nights. It has worked well for us as we travel to many different places and those nights add up quicker than you think and you get a little something back on Ibotta. Happy travels!”

We recently got a good deal on several nights during a conference by booking a room on AirBnb through a new host. They offered 20% off for the first 3 people to stay with them. This helped them get good ratings (we had a great stay), and it saved us a lot of money! Keep your eyes open and you’ll find the deals.

Other readers have also shared their tips:

  • Robin W.: “I’m signed up for a few different property management mailings. They are always running some sort of specials and usually at much better rates than just looking on your own.”
  • Lauren V.: “I rent through timeshare owners (specifically Wyndham) and stay at very nice places for half the cost and don’t have to worry about all the hassle of owning a timeshare. Been doing it for about 4 years and love it.”
  • Lynn S.: “For hotels, we search which one we want and call them directly. It beats any price online. Also, we’ve used Costco Travel.”
  • Melany M.: “The app VRBO has saved me lots!”

Plan your meals, pack what you’ll need, and eat in

I’ve come up with some different meal plans for trips like this Beach Week Meal Plan, or you can just make a list of your favorite meals and plan to eat those over the course of your vacation. Robin W. has another trick: “Use Kroger or Walmart pick-up services to avoid spending all that extra money on random tourist trinkets and T-shirts.”

Use travel points

I’ve already shared how we traveled to Scotland on points, and several other readers have found their own ways to travel with points! Hong P. said, “We take 4 vacations a year and I want to let you know that earning credit card rewards points is a life saver. With 4 kids, this is the only way we can travel. Our next trip is paid for and with credit card rewards you get an extra 25% off hotels, flights, car rentals, etc.” Abby N. said her family uses a Marriott credit card and earns points for free stays, and Karen M. added the helpful reminder that you should make sure any expenses you put on hotel credit cards should be easily paid off. It makes no sense to go into debt to earn points!

Buy souvenirs ahead of time

In the recent Facebook post, Rose J. had some advice: “Walgreens is always the cheapest and best place to purchase souvenir T-shirts, no matter where you travel.” This is also true if you go to a place like Disney—order some Disney stuff ahead of time, take it with you hidden from the kids, and pull them out during the trip to save loads on souvenirs.

The trick for frugal vacations really is just to plan for them. If you make sure you prioritize what’s important (location, time, budget) and then make a plan to do those things, not only will your vacation not break the bank, but you’ll truly be able to relax and enjoy it!

Other helpful links:
Saving on Summer Vacation Live Q&A [Video]
12 Affordable Family Vacations in the South
6 Cheap Summer Vacations

Start planning for summer vacation now, and when the weather heats up you'll be all set. Check out my tips for frugal summer vacations!