Top Tricks for Saving Money on Summer Vacation
It’s summertime and the living is quite easy indeed. From longer days filled with sunshine to nights spent outside with friends and family, these are the days that most of us relish. In addition to the slower, lazier times summer brings with it is the addition of summer vacations. Done correctly, your vacation can be more about fun times and less about money stress and/or debt.
If you’re planning a vacation this summer, the following list of tips and tricks are the top ways I’ve employed over the years to get the most from my vacation buck.
Get off the Beaten Path
This is my number one trick for any vacation, no matter if it’s taken during the summer, winter, spring or fall. It’s become a personal travel mantra of mine, and it’s definitely served me well in the past. I can fondly recall walking aimlessly around the cobbled streets of San Gimignano in Tuscany a few years ago as my friend and I searched for dinner. Eventually, we stumbled upon this tiny restaurant that had no English menu (score!) and where the staff/patrons didn’t even speak a word of English. It was one of my most memorable meals because as we fumbled through the menu and subsequently received a plethora of very strange dishes to enjoy, we bonded on a very human level with everyone there. If we had stuck to the most traveled route with the other tourists, I don’t think we’d ever have discovered this true diamond in the rough.
Of course, when you’re venturing off the beaten path, make sure you’re doing so in a safe way. Travel together, be alert, and keep an eye on your belongings. Once you’ve established your personal safety, revel in the adventure of getting lost. Not only is it a free joy of any trip, it’s a great way to find restaurants as we did where the tourist menu (and marked up prices!) don’t exist. Even if you end up eating something less than desired, you’ll never forget the experience.
Maximize Your Rewards–and Benefits
We all know about AAA discounts and various other membership clubs that offer various savings on travel-related services and products. But what about combining these offers with your rewards points from airlines and credit cards? In addition to the miles, points and cash back you earn from the frequent flyer and credit card programs, there are also special discounts if you book travel arrangements through one of the company’s preferred partners. For instance, I can get an automatic 20% discount on any Avis car rental if I book using my Citi card–plus I still receive points and cash back!
Look into the various options that exist with the cards you already have–chances are, a quick search through the company’s website and/or rewards portal will yield a plethora of partner discounts you might not have known exist.
Don’t Try to do it All
You’ve most likely been there before when either we or a friend or family member tries to plan an “epic” trip that encompasses a jam-packed schedule. While this sounds fun and great on the surface (and certainly during the planning stages), it might not end up being the reality you’d hoped for. Remember that part of vacation is to relax and unwind from the stressors of everyday life. If you schedule too much or try to fit in too much, you might become overwhelmed and stressed during a time you should be care free. If you book too many excursions, etc, you might just end up wasting that money when you decide to forgo the activity.
Don’t forget that a lazy day on the beach is virtually free if you’ve done your planning in advance for food, sunscreen, etc.!
How do you save on your vacations?