12 Money Saving Travel Tips

12 Money Saving Travel Tips June 6, 2011

There are lots of ways you save money while traveling. My wife and I just got back from a trip to Mexico and spent 25% less on this trip compared to a similar trip three years ago. How did we save money on traveling this time around? We used some of these tips below.

1. Save in the small things

The small things add up, especially while you’re on vacation. We saved money by bringing our own granola bars, chips, crackers and sweets with us on the plane. If you want to save a few dollars on water in the airport, bring an empty bottle and fill it up at a drinking fountain when you’re past security – works like a charm!

2. Car rental GPS

Most car rental places will charge from $10 – $15 a day for a GPS unit. If you have your own, pack it along and use it while you’re out. You can save close to $100 per week by using your own GPS on vacation.

3. Pack light

We have mastered the art of packing into a small enough suitcase to check on the plane with us. If you’re traveling with someone else who isn’t so savvy when it comes to suitcase space, try to check only one bag. You might need to shuffle some things to the other bag, but it can save you $100 round trip on some airlines.

4. Use reward points

We’ve saved hundreds of dollars by using hotel reward points on trips. Although it may not help you for this vacation, look at hotel reward programs and even credit cards that provide reward points.

Some airlines will even provide generous point offers if you sign up for their reward cards. I usually don’t recommend credit cards, but if you’re a responsible user, you can really benefit from airline and hotel rewards.

5. Split meals

This simple tip helps us cut our bill in half every trip we go on. The portions at restaurants are usually big enough to feed two people, so we don’t ever go hungry.

6. Haggle with vendors

This usually works best if you’re traveling outside of the country, but it never hurts to ask for a discount or a better price. Read our recent article on negotiations if you’re wanting tips on negotiating anything,

7. Book a hotel with free breakfast

This is extremely valuable if you’re taking a family vacation. You don’t have to worry about getting everyone ready, packing up the rental car, and spending money at breakfast. Hotels like Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inns, and Comfort Inns often have free breakfast, but you should double check online or call the hotel itself.

8. Book in advance

I found a really cool tool a while back called the Bing Airfare Predictor. Before committing to buy airfare, spend a little time with this tool. It actually predicts if prices are going to rise or fall and they claim to be 75% accurate. Not a bad way to save.

9. Bring your own games

If you don’t have an activity planned for that evening, you can stay in and play cards, dominoes, board games, or read a book. Take it outside and sit on the beach for a night. It’s better than sitting in and watching TV or spending extra money just to fill up the night.

10. Split the cost with friends

I’ve never been on a vacation with another couple, but I have friends who have saved a lot of money this way. You can rent a home for a week and stock it with food, saving you hundreds of dollars during your trip.

11. Use cash only

We used a cash system on our last vacation and ended up spending half of what we budgeted. This was partly because we took half of the budget and hid it away. If you don’t have cash on you, you’re less likely to spend it. The other nice part about cash is that you see the money leaving your hands, unlike swiping a credit card.

I would recommend having a credit card with you in case of emergencies, but don’t use it to purchase everything – it’ll add up faster than you can imagine!

12. Make it a Staycation

I can’t leave this option out. You can always save money by having a staycation. We can (and should) have an entire article about things to do on a staycation! Taking time off to enjoy a few days with your family at home can be a nice break and can save lots of money at the same time.

Are you going on a vacation this year? If so, where to? If you have a money saving tip, share it with us!

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