How to Save Money during Vacation

How much money you spend during vacation is highly dependent on your choice destination and the activities that you and your party will engage in.

Some vacation destinations are naturally more expensive than others, when looking at the type of accommodations, dining options and type of activities offered at such destination. Because of this, thorough planning before leaving for your destination is essential.

First is to know your budget; how much are you willing to spend during your vacation? Once this is determined, then you can start looking at possible destination options. The best way to determine a budget is to know how much each day is going to cost you. You have to plan everything and know everything. Write down a very detailed itinerary for every single day that you will be on vacation. If your party is going to a theme park, determine how much the admission for every person is. Know where you are eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Make use of available information on the Internet about dining options at your destination. Lack of planning can lead you to spend more money at places that fall short of your expectation when you could have easily gone to another place that costs less, yet offers a better experience. So go on the Internet, browse options and pay attention to customer reviews.

Following are lists of things that you shouldn’t do, and things that you should do during vacation to help you spend less money.


Don’t go without knowing how much things will cost you and how much you are willing to spend. If a destination will end up costing you more than what you are willing to spend, then pick a different destination.

Charge everything on your credit card, from bottled water to sunscreen lotion. Charging everything will give you the impression of unlimited budget.

Buy everything at the hotel gift shop or at airports. You will end up paying more at these places.

Forget to pack things you can’t live without to go about your day, such as your cell phone, contact lenses, medication, and others.

Make breakfast the biggest event of the day. Don’t spend all your dollars here, especially if your hotel offers free breakfast (well, not free but already included in the price).

Take a taxi everywhere. Some places may just be a walking distance if you look at the map.

Eat all your dinners at the hotel restaurant. This might sound silly, but you are served by employees with benefits; the chef that went to culinary school; the sommelier who travelled to Europe to be trained extensively about wine. Anybody can pour wine at the mom and pop restaurant nearby. Fancy service means fancy prices.

Buy every cute souvenir item that catches your fancy.


Make a running list of things to pack weeks before your travel date. Anything you remember that needed to be packed should be added to the list. This will prevent you from forgetting to pack things that you absolutely need during your vacation and having to replace them at your destination. Have a packing list for everyone going on the trip.

Buy all small necessities from home and pack them with you. Examples are toiletries, extra memory cards, battery packs, and others. Check airport restrictions for items you want to take with you.

Have cash on hand for incidentals, so you don’t have to take a loan (on your credit card) every time someone needs a bottled drink.

Take advantage of public transportation at your destination to save money on gas and parking fees. In Washington D.C., take advantage of the Metro Subway system; in Orlando, FL, make use of hotel to theme park complimentary service; in Ogunquit, ME, hop on the trolley to get from point A to point B.

Book a 3 to 3½ -star rated hotel instead of a 4 to 5-star rated hotel. More stars in hotel ratings mean more amenities. More than likely your party will not be using all these amenities, such as the hotel spa, the hotel gym, tennis court, etc. Why use the hotel gym if you will be spending your days hiking, swimming or skiing. Leave the gym for the people who are there for business conferences.

Pick an accommodation that includes a kitchenette, or with a microwave and full size refrigerator. Stock the refrigerator with your own snacks and refreshment.

Stay away from the hotel mini-bar.

After a full day of activities, eating out and exploring, bring in a pizza for a relaxing night in. You are not limited to pizza; bring in anything, Chinese take-out, a bucket of fried chicken, or any food from any restaurant. This way you will save money on drinks and tip.

Price out vacation homes against hotel rooms. If vacationing with friends, you might be able to save money by splitting the rent of a vacation home than staying at a hotel property. If you don’t want to do every activity with your friends during vacation, you can discuss this prior to your trip. This might turn out to be everyone’s preference anyway.

Drive to your final destination from a major airport instead of flying-in to a regional airport at your destination, which could prove costly. The state of Maine can be reached from Logan International Airport in Boston in less than two hours; it takes about two hours to reach St. George, Utah from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Sedona, Arizona is reached in about two hours from Sky Harbor International in Phoenix, Arizona.

Some vacation ideas that might prove to be money savers:

A beach vacation; you still have to pay for accommodations and food, but to walk the beach, get a tan, swim and browse the souvenir shops are free.

Cruise vacation; means everything is included: transportation, accommodations, activities and meals; probably one of the easiest to plan; even better if you can drive to a port of call instead of flying there.

National park vacations offer numerous outdoor fun and adventures; many national parks don’t charge an entrance fee; learn about national park free days and annual national parks pass.

Have a safe and memorable trip!