Saturday, June 2, 2018

10 Summer Vacation Tips

While we aren't planning to travel this summer (at least not at this point but I would like to do a marathon in each state so that is on the agenda for some future date), a lot of people will be hitting the road this summer for vacation.  Here are ten ways to save money on your summer travels:

  1. Look at all transportation options: driving, renting a car, taking the train, taking the bus, flying, taking a cheap bus such as Megabus or Bolt Bus, taking a cruise ship, etc.  Sometimes the most obvious way to get somewhere is the most expensive, especially during the high tourist season.
  2. Spend cash.  When you put your vacation on a credit card you are more likely to spend more money than planned and less likely to immediately pay the card off.  A cash-only vacation doesn't leave you with the credit card hangover after all you return home from your trip.
  3. Bring or buy your own food as much as possible.  I live in a tourist destination and I can tell you that eating on the Las Vegas Strip or downtown Fremont is super expensive compared to either visiting off-Strip restaurants or shopping at local grocery stores for things like snacks and breakfast/lunch picnic foods.
  4. See if you can find a discount pass for your destination.  If you will be hitting some National Parks, an annual parks pass can be much cheaper than paying regular-priced entry at each park.  Many cities also have an Entertainment Book with tons of two-for-one restaurant coupons, as well as "city passes" which get you in to several tourist attractions for a low flat rate.
  5. Visit family or friends while you travel and you can save money on lodging.  Similarly, doing things like staying in Air BnBs or youth hostels as well as staying loyal to one hotel chain which gives you a free night for every few nights you book can help you save some lodging dollars.
  6. If you must fly, try to be flexible with your dates (flying on a Saturday may be twice the cost of flying on a Tuesday for example), travel with only one carry-on bag, and skip the extras if possible (things like picking a seat ahead of time or choosing seats with extra leg room can cost a lot more).
  7. Try to travel in the less high, high season.  Summer travel in general is more expensive but you can still save a little money by traveling in early June or late August as well as avoiding holidays weekend when everyone and their brother is trying to go on vacation.
  8. Plan to visit a few big attractions and many smaller, cheaper attractions.  You could literally spend tens of thousands of dollars in Las Vegas doing all of the major tourist things ($5000 for a booth in a night club with bottle service, $500 for a deluxe machine gun package, etc) but there are plenty of free and cheap things to do here that are still a lot of fun and very memorable.  All of the Smithsonian museums and zoo are free in Washington DC, we visited a very nice free zoo in Chicago a while back, walking in the mountains or on the beach is free, etc.
  9. Instead of the usual tourist vacations (London, New York, Tokyo) consider cheaper or more unique alternatives.  A cruise may be a good idea as everything is included for one price (lodging, food, and entertainment).  Instead of visiting Tokyo, Osaka or Kyushu are just as nice and much cheaper.  A stay-cation is always an interesting option (depending on where you live).  And staying in smaller nearby cities may be just as interesting and fun as the large city you fly into (ie: Victoria is just as nice--maybe nicer in my opinion--than Vancouver BC; Bath is just as historical as London).
  10. Travel during the off-season or shoulder season.  If you can work all summer (as yours truly is doing) you can make your vacation dollars go a lot further by vacationing in the spring or fall.  There are less tourists then and prices tend to be lower.


  1. I am big into bringing your own food! I found that I really wanted something warm to eat. However, buying one tiny burger satisfied the need for something warm. No, I cannot carry appliances to warm one tiny thing. I do utilize a cooler!

    I have a pass that allows me into National parks for free.

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