Splurging at the right moments when you’re on vacation can create memories that will last a lifetime. However, having the money for those moments means being smart and saving cash – leading up to your trip and during it.
When You’re Preparing for Travel
Most of your largest travel savings will likely happen well ahead of you climbing into the car or boarding a plane. This is because most of your big purchases, i.e. transportation and lodging, are going to be made ahead of time.
Logging Savings with Lodging Choices
Most people will start looking at ways to save with big-ticket items, such as on plane tickets and hotel rooms.
This isn’t a bad strategy. Search and compare the lowest rates on hotels well in advance (being a AAA member will help you in this department.)
To save even more in the grand-scheme, look for lodging with an in-room kitchen. If you’re planning on staying in the same area for more than two nights, preparing your own meals will keep some money in your wallet and save you from having to choose a different place to eat out every night.
Before you book any rooms through any sites, make sure to do some due diligence with regards to the location. There are plenty of places to stay that are attractive in price but are nowhere close to all the restaurants and activities you will want to be close to.
Try to book a hotel that is close to the heart of where you want to be, preferably within walking distance. The extra money that you might end up spending on the room will save you from overpaying on transportation costs in the long run.
Fill Your Pockets with Flying Savings
There are so many ways to save a little extra money when it comes to booking your flight. The biggest saver is choosing your destination based on what flight deals are available. If you have frequent flyer miles with any airline, scan their weekly deals.
Of course, if you have a predetermined destination, there are a few other things you can do to save money. Try to book at least 47 days in advance and be flexible on your departure dates (try to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday).
Discover How to Put Cash Away
If you’re preparing for a big trip, it can make sense to do more than just put money in a separate bank account. In fact, the savviest of travelers take advantages of CDs, which can last from three months to 10 years. With a set term length when money can’t be touched, they’re an excellent way to ensure that you don’t dip into your travel funds (while also earning interest).
AAA members can score even better deals on CDs through Discover. This opens the doors to even more potential for making your money go the distance when it comes to planning your next trip.
When You’re There
If you’ve spent months pinching pennies and cutting corners to make sure you have enough money for your vacation, it’s tempting to cut loose as soon as you arrive. However, there ways you can continue to save money without hampering any of your vacation fun.
By the Grace of the Grocery Store
Meals and alcohol costs are the third biggest piece of the pie when it comes to the costs of a vacation, right behind transportation and lodging. A big part of this is because when you’re on vacation, you end up eating out every single meal. The tabs, the tips – they add up fast.
One of the easiest ways to save serious money on your dream holiday is to hit up a local grocery store. When you’re there, grab what you need for at least one meal a day and plenty of snacks.
The easiest meal to prepare on the run is lunch – think sandwiches and salads – but if you’re into lighter fare for breakfast, consider shopping for two meals a day and splurge on dinner.
Give Up Lugging Laundry
Nowadays, you should expect baggage fees, especially if you’re flying on a budget airline. Checking an extra bag can end up costing you the same as a couple of very memorable meals or a high-end show.
Consider packing light and plan on doing laundry. If you’re lucky, your lodging will have a washer and dryer, but even if it doesn’t, an hour spent reading a good book in the laundromat is worth the money you’ll save.
Be Smart About Souvenirs
When you arrive in town, you may feel the urge to grab the first couple of knickknacks and kitsch souvenirs you spot. There is a temptation to think that this is your only chance to do so. But that’s just not true! Instead of immediately buying the painted shells or having your name carved into a piece of wood, start taking mental notes regarding how much the souvenir items you’re interested in cost.
Eventually, you’ll identify the cheapest location for a few souvenirs for yourself and friends back home. At this point, you’ll also have a good gauge for the quality of the items. It hurts to buy something hastily only to realize that you paid too much, and it isn’t as nice as similar items you encounter down the road.
The key to fulfilling your travel dreams on a budget is to focus on savings when you are purchasing big-ticket items and avoid spending money on meals and items that are more perfunctory than deeply satisfying.
Don’t wait to start saving for your next dream vacation!
Where you keep your money as you prepare for your vacation will also make a huge difference in terms of how far it goes. For AAA members, this means starting to save your vacation money in CDs via Discover with the deposit program. Discover Bank, Member FDIC.