Saving Money on Vacation

saving tips vacation

Summertime’s here and that means many of us get wanderlust. But travel costs can multiply, fast. Here are a few tips on saving money on vacation. 

Build It Into Your Budget 

Start saving before you go. Don’t come home with credit card debit from charging travel costs that you can’t afford. Set a goal of how much you want to spend. In the weeks and months leading up to your trip, put money aside from each paycheck towards your vacation budget. Then as you’re traveling, keep this amount in mind so you don’t overspend.

Choose to Save

Leading up to the vacation, you might need to say no to some expenses or cut back on spending to put money towards your vacation. Maybe you’ll decide to cut back on classes at the studio and do workouts at home or with friends. Maybe you’ll have to forgo happy hour or that sale at your favorite clothing store. With each purchase you nix, remember the money is going towards your vacation and is worth using a bit of willpower.

Plan Ahead

Buying tickets in advance can sometimes give you a better deal rather than waiting until the last minute. Plan ahead in your timing, traveling on non-peak days, like Tuesday. Check if buying tickets or passes in advance will save you money, such as subway or museum passes rather than buying tickets the day of. Some passes give you access for multiple days or at multiple locations to bundle and save rather than paying separately at each visit. Just consider ahead of time if you will get full advantage by visiting enough times to get your money’s worth. 

Plan your route so you don’t rack up transportation costs as you zig-zag across town or country. Backtracking wastes time and resources. However, by wandering around you might stumble on something special. It’s all about mindfulness and balance between planning and being spontaneous.  

tips to save money on vacation

Keep food costs low and take snacks with you. Buying granola bars or instant oatmeal packets at the supermarket to take with you will be cheaper than buying snacks at the airport or hotel where prices are much higher. Many times, smaller sized (or travel sized) packaging is less cost efficient as you end up paying for convenience. This is true with toiletries as well. Instead of buying the travel sized bottles of hair care, skin care, etc., buy the refillable empty bottles and fill it with your products. Refill and reuse it every time you travel and save.

You might be jetting off without much planning, or you might plan every minute of your travels. But either way, try to cover the basics to be prepared for anything. Having a plan in case of surprises can save you from buying things you discover you need along the way. For those unpredictable things, the weather, lost luggage, wardrobe malfunctions, poor health, and so on, throw together a few items to be prepared. An umbrella or rain jacket, layers if it’s too warm or too cold, a change of clothes in your carryon, some safety pins, bobby pins, bandaids, aspirin, ear plugs, and hand sanitizer are a few ideas. 

 Keep It Simple

Travel light. You don’t have to take over half your wardrobe, hair styling products, makeup, and accessories while traveling. Pair it down to the minimum. You will have less to lug around, you can avoid checking a bag and waiting for it at the baggage carousel, and you could save on baggage fees. Plan out your outfits, bring clothes that can be mixed and matched. Bring versatile accessories that can further change up your outfits.  Bring reusable or multipurpose things. For example, bring a water bottle that you can take on the plane and refill over the course of the trip. Bring a scarf that can be used as a blanket in chilly air conditioning, a blanket to sit on in a park, a pop of color to your outfit, and so on. By packing light, but thoughtfully, you can travel confidently that you’re ready for anything.

Live Like a Local

Step off the beaten path and live like the locals do. Instead of typical touristy things, go to local cafes, restaurants, farmer’s markets, who knows what you might stumble upon? Some of this might mean asking a local for some of their favorite places. It does mean being open and flexible to go somewhere you didn’t see in the guides.  For example, while exploring Puerto Rico, we’d stop in at local bakeries for authentic sandwiches. In London, we found a pub down a quiet street where they offered special lunch deals. In past trips to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we’ve stumbled upon mud sales. These are auctions where they sell plants, furniture, tools, farm equipment- you could even buy a horse and buggy! We didn’t buy anything, except some tasty Pennsylvania Dutch food, but we enjoyed being part of the community for an afternoon, experiencing a different culture, and watching the auctions along with some cute little future farmers.  

Take public transportation if it’s available. Get a pass if you plan to take enough rides. Cheaper than Ubers and taxis, it can be part of the fun of discovering a new place. The metro in Paris is vastly different than the one in Washington, DC. On my trip on the Parisian metro, I passed a man playing “La Vie Un Rose” on an accordion, does it get anymore Parisian than that? 

Have a picnic instead of dinner.  Dinner can be priced higher than lunch, so, if you’re able to, find a restaurant with good lunch prices for your large meal of the day and eat lighter for dinner. Try the prepared foods section of a market and find a place to sit with your food, in a park for instance. It will be cheaper than a sitdown restaurant and has the potential for some great people watching. 

Be Intentional 

Take time for mindfulness to enjoy the vacation. Get the most out of your trip, and your money. Decide what you want out of the trip, relaxation, adventure, time with family or friends, exposure to something new, reconnecting with something old, or a combo. If you want a relaxing vacation but are stressed the whole time, you aren’t achieving the purpose of your time off. For example, the subway might save you money, but if it makes you want to pull your hair out figuring out the connections, it might be worth the cost of an Uber. Why spend hundreds to go somewhere new and exciting to be holed up in a Starbucks on your phone the whole time? Step away from technology, unplug, immerse yourself fully in your surroundings. Save money and still get the most out of your travels. Enjoy the journey!

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