Staying on Budget

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Staying on Budget While on Vacation: 8 Tips for Saving Money on Your Trip

8 tips to help you plan a great vacation for your family without breaking the bank!

It’s finally time to take that much-needed vacation, but you’re worried about how you’ll stay on budget. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we will discuss a few tips for saving money on your trip. We’ll talk about ways to save money when booking your vacation and ways to save money while traveling. By following these tips, you can have the relaxing vacation of your dreams without breaking the bank!

1. Plan your trip in advance to get the best deals on airfare and hotels.

One of the best ways to save money on your vacation is to plan it in advance. If you book your airfare and hotel room early, you can usually get a better deal than if you wait until the last minute. In addition, many hotels offer discounts for booking online rather than over the phone. So be sure to do your research and book well ahead of time!

Drive instead of fly. If you have the extra time you can incorporate activities along your route to see more of the country. I remember as a teenager my sister had a boot camp graduation in South Carolina so my parents planned a week long trip driving from Michigan to South Carolina. We drove up to New York saw Niagara Falls, Mammoth caves in Kentucky, the Natural Bridge in VA, hiked in Shenandoah National Park, visited Washington DC and a few other stops as well. 

2. Be flexible with your travel dates.

Another way to save money on your vacation is to be flexible with your travel dates. Sometimes you need to travel during a specific time due to school schedules or family obligations but if you can fly or stay at a hotel during the off-season, you’ll usually get a better deal.

A lot of travel websites allow you to specify that your dates are flexible and will find you the best deal near the dates you want to travel. If you can flex your trip by a couple of days you may be able to save some money. If you’re willing to travel anytime during a given month there may be significant savings to be had.

3. Book Rental Condos Over Hotels

When traveling, consider booking a rental condo instead of a hotel room. Rental condos usually offer more space than hotel rooms and they have kitchens, which can save you money on food costs. In addition, rental condos are often located in prime locations, whereas hotels are not always as centrally-located.

If you’re looking for a great condo for your next vacation try AirBnB, VBRO, or These sites have a variety of rental properties to choose from, whether you’re looking for something on the water or near a bustling downtown, you’ll find something that fits your needs.

They also have a rating system so you can feel confident in your accommodations. The renters have to option to rate the host, but the host also has the opportunity to rate the guests. Make sure you are a good guest, high ratings make it easier to stay at the best places in the future.

4. Travel with another family and split the cost of accommodations.

If you have another family that you get along well with, traveling together is a great option. By splitting the cost of accommodations, groceries, and activities, you can reduce your overall expenses. Just make sure you get a place where there is enough room for people to spread out a bit. No matter how well you get along it’s good to have your own space.

5. Cook your own meals instead of eating out all the time.

Eating out can be one of the biggest expenses while on vacation. Eating the local cuisine can certainly enhance a trip, but you don’t have to eat out for every meal. Especially if you’re renting a condo and have a kitchen, going to the grocery store when you first arrive and stocking up can really help you to save money.

Eat breakfast in. I love hot breakfast meals but they have gotten so expensive. I usually research the best breakfast I can find in the area and plan for us to eat there once. The rest of the time I cook something at the rental or plan a grab and go such as fruit, granola bars, yogurt, bagel etc.

Plan a day at a local park or beach. A collapsible portable picnic basket is a great travel item. It allows you to pack a lunch for the family without taking up too much space in your luggage. You can find them for about $26.

Another great option is to plan for crockpot meals while on vacation. Just spend 20 minutes prepping dinner in the morning and when you come back to your vacation home dinner is ready to go! Some rental homes may provide one, but if they don’t you can probably find one for around $30. Even if you buy one and leave it there, it’s cheaper than taking the family out to dinner every night.

Not only will these tips save you money, but they will also allow you to eat healthier foods.

6. Consider an inexpensive family cruise, or an attraction nearby

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly vacation, consider taking a family cruise. Cruise ships often have discounts for children and there are usually many activities available on board that the whole family can enjoy. Plus, meals are included in the price of the cruise!

Another great option is to visit some of the more inexpensive tourist destinations in the USA. Sometimes we take for granted that there are often great vacation options nearby. Some great inexpensive options for vacations in the US are : The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, Niagara Falls, and the Rocky Mountains.

7. Stick to your budget – don’t spend more than you can afford

One of the most important tips for staying on budget while on vacation is to simply stick to your budget. Don’t spend more money than you can afford, no matter how tempting it may be. This means being mindful of your spending and not overspending in any category, including food, drinks, transportation, and activities. 

I like to take the budget of the whole trip and plan the cost per day then keep track of the days cost. Some days will require a larger budget than others depending on the attractions. I sit down before we leave for vacation and plan the daily budget then email it to myself and partner in crime, Andrew. This is much easier than trying to keep the entire trip budget in your head. 

8. Keep track of what you actually spent

When you get back from vacation pull up you credit or debit card statement and add up what you actually spent. Here’s when you get to see how well you did. Hopefully you stayed within your budget, but don’t beat yourself up if you spent a little more than you planned.

It’s great to keep a list of your trips actual cost via a spreadsheet or journal. I have categories for how much we spent on groceries, eating out, activities, hotel, transportation, and souvenirs. Having this information will help you plan for future trips. By doing this Andrew and I know exactly how much it costs to go to our favorite cities.

I can’t tell you how many times this information has alleviated the stress of budgeting future trips. We know how much it’s going to cost, we’ve done it before. 

Go out and get exploring!

The most important thing to remember while on vacation is to have fun! Relax and enjoy your time with family, friends, or people you meet along the way. Even if you spend a little more than you planned to, having a plan will help you to not go overboard. We succeed at the things we pay attention to, so pay attention to what you’re spending.

I hope these tips help you save money on your next vacation! Vacations are a great way to relax and get away from the everyday stressors of life, having a plan will help you stay relaxed. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy your trip without worrying about breaking the bank. Happy Travels!

Try out my vacation budget plan spread sheet!

I created a google doc where you can create a copy in your personal google drive to customize your vacation budget plan. Once the google doc is open go to File > Make a Copy > OK. 

You must be logged into your google account in order to save this document in your personal google drive. Then start to edit your own private vacation budget plan google doc. Once you make a copy, I cannot see it only you can. It becomes your private document. 

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It is fun to think that there might be a short cut but the reality is planning plus diligence equals financial freedom.

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