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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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I love to plan vacations and many times am already dreaming up the next trip before we get unpacked from the current one.  The only way we can afford to travel is by being frugal and not spending money on every little thing. Accommodations can easily be the most expensive part of a trip depending on where you are traveling. Vacation rentals are one great way for a budget conscious traveler to have an enjoyable vacation but still save money.

Here are some ideas on how to get the most bang for your buck when staying away from home.

How to Save on Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentals vs. Hotels

Vacation rentals are usually cheaper to rent per night than a hotel, while providing more space and amenities that save you money. You have room for large families or multiple families to rent, as many rentals have several bedrooms. This is also great if you are traveling with a baby and need a separate room to put them in (vs. trying to have them sleep in a hotel bathroom so you don’t have to go to bed at 7:00).

They also help you save on dining with fully functioning kitchens! Take your meal plan and practice saving in a new store. You can prepare meals each night instead of going out!  Some vacation properties also come with amenities included like beach access or a pool at no extra cost. The larger the rental, the more expensive it becomes to rent, but consider sharing with family or friends to split the cost, without sacrificing space.

Don’t Blow Your Budget With Fees

Know what is included in your vacation rental and check if there are any “hidden fees.” Properties will often be listed with included amenities, but check for instance, if there is a cap for electricity or an internet usage charge. If you are using a site like Airbnb or VRBO you should see all fees listed, but still might be surprised when you click on the detailed charges to see just how many things are fees.  Watch for increased cleaning fees, charging for extra people, and resort access fees.

Tip: Most of these added on fees are negotiable.  You can always message the home owner and see what flexibility they are willing to offer.

Play with Dates and Length of Stay

Always take a moment before booking and plug in a few different options on how many nights you want to stay.  You’ll find on many rental sites that the longer you stay the cheaper it becomes per night.  We had a rental outside of Asheville once that adding a third night was the SAME price as two nights because the nightly rate dropped so much adding that extra night!

Consider also if you can travel during the week and not stay on the weekend.  Weekends are more expensive no matter where you stay, if you have the option to stay Tuesday thru Friday morning you’ll quickly see savings up to 30% off the weekend prices!

Stay A Little Bit Away

More popular areas have more expensive rentals and it might be harder to negotiate if the owner sees a good potential to receive the price listed.  Staying at a slightly less desirable area, while still being close to popular destinations and amenities, is a way to find a bargain in return for a short drive to shops and entertainment that you are interested in. On a past family trip to Washington DC we stayed a little bit out of downtown, but right off a Metro stop.  The nightly rate was 50% less than prices downtown, and it only took a few extra minutes to get to all the attractions.

Travel Off Peak or Last Minute

If you are flexible on dates and amenities, you can save over 30% for booking at the last minute. If you don’t mind going to a destination during the off season, this can also be a great way to receive good rates and other incentives.  Typically off season for most places in the US is when school is in.  If you have kids in public school see if you can count the trip towards school days by asking the school for permission.  If you are homeschooling… well you’ve known this savings tip for years.

Sign Up for Emails

In many locations you’ll find that booking through vacation management companies is the only option.  The beach in our area is like this.  You really want to head to various rental agencies and sign up for their emails.  You’ll get coupon codes, deals on last minute rentals and more.  We saved 40% off our beach vacation this year thanks to email coupon codes!

Other Discounts

Ask about early booking discounts, especially for less popular locations, as you can sometimes get up to a 10% discount for booking by a certain date.

You can sometimes get a cheaper deal with a newer listing on a site. These hosts are looking for good reviews to encourage more listings, so if you’re willing to take a small risk, it might be worth it.

Oceanfront homes are more expensive, so look for homes close to the beach, but not right on the water. If you are flexible about the location of the rental look for areas where there are lots of rental options and competition.

Where to Find Vacation Rentals

Make sure to do your research and comparison shop. AirBnB and VRBO are the two most known options but many times you’ll find that rental agencies put their listing on this sites too.  You will always get a cheaper rate going directly through the rental agency!

To find this information, scroll towards the bottom of the listing and see the “About The Host” if you see a brand logo their search google for their actual website.  You can also search for the house name and many times pull up listing on the main agencies site.

Here’s an example:

A beach house on Isle of Palms, SC (that we have have shared with family in early May).  For pretend dates of September 12th-16th (off season after school starts).  VRBO listing or the Rental Agency listing.

VRBO price:

Rental Agency Direct Price: 

Going direct with the rental agency just saved you over $600 on the same rental!  Not to mention this is one of the agencies that sends coupons and we got another 40% off this price with a coupon code!  VRBO doesn’t accept coupon codes.

Earn Points on Your Rental

My goal is to always earn rewards on everything I buy!  Whether I pay with a rewards credit card or double dip and also join a rewards program… I’m going to earn points.  VRBO now has a rewards program that you can earn free cash towards future rentals.  You can also earn Delta Skymiles when you link your account here.  Pay with a Skymiles credit card and you’ve earned twice! (Remember to always pay your card off, rewards are meaningless if you are paying interest fees).

Consider Skipping Travel Insurance

Many rentals will try to get you to pay for additional trip insurance.  While there are moments where this is a reasonable purchase, check your credit cards to see if they offer free trip insurance when you pay with that card.  We have a Chase card that offers up to $15,000 in trip insurance, plus additional travel medical benefits.  This is way above any price I’d pay for a vacation and more than enough to cover any vacation rental we get.

Do you have any tips on how to save on vacation rentals? Let us know in the comments!

 See more ways to live frugally.

Accommodations can be the biggest chunk of a travel budget, so see how to save on vacation rentals to keep your spending within reason!s are usually the biggest part of a travel budget.