Vacation Savings Tips For a Tight Budget

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I’ve been traveling as a yearly hobby for the past 20 years, and trust me, I live on a very tight budget.  So through the years, I’ve learned to spot some areas that offer savings and will share them with you here.  Whether you want a trip to the Caribbean on a week long cruise, or just a weekend getaway to an amusement park you can pull it off with some careful planning to keep the costs in a more affordable price range!

Hotel Stays

  • Look for military, AAA®, senior citizen or AARP® discounts, these will average 10% off your hotel stay

  • If possible, book hotels that offer complimentary breakfast, you could save on average $10 per person by taking advantage of the free breakfast at your hotel. 

  • If possible, do not book your stay around major holidays or as checking in on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.  Room prices can increase by as much as $100 a night or more if you check in for example, on a Friday compared to a Tuesday.

  • Be on the lookout for some hotel chains offering a free night stay when you book 2 or more nights, and take advantage of the offer if it fits your travel plan time line.

  • If you think you can’t afford to bring your pet, and you can’t afford a pet “sitter”, then consider La Quinta Inn®, they have a pets welcome policy and no pet deposit required.  Red Roof Inn® also has a lenient pet policy.

Cruise Lines

  • Avoid booking your cruise during the peak season, this is when prices are at their highest.

  • Keep in mind that you are not obligated to purchase shore excursions.  Plan in advance by researching your destination online and learn what is available for you to visit and enjoy on your own, it is usually much cheaper than the cost of the excursions offered by the cruise line.  But by doing a little research in advance you’ll be able to make an informed decision of which is more affordable for your personal situation.

  • Most cruise lines do not charge for water at meals, so avoid ordering sodas or alcoholic beverages which will be an addtional cost.

Weekend Getaways

  • Consider alternatives to hotels such as beach houses, condos, bed and breakfasts, or RV parks.  For example a large group can be accomodated in one beach house, and when splitting the price you can save hundreds over booking a hotel instead.

  • Look online for coupons if you’re planning to visit local attractions such as zoos or amusement parks, many places will have coupons that are free admission for children, or buy one ticket get one free.

  • If you have a car that isn’t fuel efficient, you should compare the price to rent a vehicle that has great MPG against what you would spend in gasoline.  For example if you normally would take your large SUV and it costs $200 for gasoline round trip for a weekend trip to the closest major metropolitan area, you may find that you can rent an economy car for only $30 for the entire weekend, and $70 for the round trip in gasoline in the rental car… saving you $100 in this example

Flying abroad

  • Book online and look into flight packages that bundle air, hotel, and rental cars into one price, these offer the best savings.

  • Avoid planning vacations around holiday times when flight prices will be at their highest.

  • If you aren’t set in stone on “where” to go specifically, say you just want to go to an ocean with clear blue water and white sandy beaches – then be sure to compare the flight prices for various locales offering the same scenery, you’ll find the price could vary greatly depending on the specific city/country/area that you choose.

  • If you normally book first class, don’t turn down a vacation because of the price, consider coach instead (its the same plane after all)!


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