13 Ways To Save Money on Your Next Vacation

In today’s world, everything costs more than ever before! That means that it can be a struggle just to meet basic needs – much less have fun. C

If you’re lucky enough to have some cash aside for a vacation, you might have gotten a shock looking at prices.

The average cost of a vacation has skyrocketed, with a week's trip costing almost two thousand dollars!

And that’s just for one person. For families, having a proper vacation might seem close to impossible.

Luckily, there are still ways to have a trip away that doesn’t break the bank. In this guide, we’ll help you make the most of your hard earnest time off by sharing strategies to save. This includes tips on:

  • When to book
  • How to choose your provider
  • Bonuses and promotions
  • The best attractions
  • And more!

Let’s dive in.

1. Book Your Trip Early

Perhaps the number one thing you can do to save money on vacation is to book in advance!

If you look at least a couple of months before you want to head away, you’re likely to pay much less for flights, accommodation, and activities as providers hike the prices up when you book at the last minute.

Planning in advance also means you can monitor sites to see if they run deals or packages that can save you money.

Just make sure to use an incognito browser or clear your cookies, as some websites maintain or even raise the prices when you visit them multiple times!

Booking early also means you’ll have a good idea of what everything is going to cost, allowing you to budget more accurately.

2. Compare Rates

There are many services out there that can do a lot of your work for you by finding the cheapest prices for flights and accommodation.

For instance, check out Priceline or Booking.com for trusted price comparisons!

If you travel frequently, signing up for Booking.com’s Genius program or similar offers can also help you save money by getting better deals and free upgrades the longer you use their service.

While using the sites is an excellent place to start, it’s also important to do your own research.

Check review pages and what locals have to say to find the best bang for your buck.

Depending on where you’re headed and your traveling style, staying at homestays or local hotels (which might not have the best websites) may be a lot cheaper than the more generic options found on Booking.com or other large platforms.

3. Find The "Economy" Options

Stick to the bare-bones option when you can, especially if you’re traveling somewhere you’re familiar with. This means economy flights and skipping things like extra baggage or seat selection; these fees add up quickly.

The same goes for accommodation. Especially if you’re going to spend a lot of time out and about, opting for a place that’s safe and clean (but doesn’t have many luxury features) can save you a lot of money – and you won’t even miss the more expensive option.

Even for situations like resort stays, getting a basic room is a good idea; you’ll be spending most of your time by the pool anyway!

The final place you can save by opting for the economy option is ground travel. If you’re renting a car, get the simple, starter model (though make sure to still get insurance).

First-class and even premium economy train tickets can add a lot of extra expense to your trip, and they are rarely worth it.

If you have the time, traveling by bus is often the cheapest way to get around – not to mention surprisingly comfortable. Plus, you don’t have to worry about driving, and can get some rest and enjoy the sights!

4. Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card

You can save a lot on travel if you use a credit card with a travel rewards program.

When you spend day to day, you’re putting money towards your next vacation without having to spend any more than you would anyway.

While it’s important to use credit cards responsibly and not get in over your head, they can be an amazing way to build your credit and save a lot on your next trip.

Which card you get depends on what bank you’re with, where you’re based, and where you intend to travel, among other factors.

However, as a guide, here are the best current travel rewards credit cards, as recommended by based on our polling from Reddit:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • High rewards rate
  • 60,000 welcome points
  • One-to-one point rate for a wide variety of travel partners.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

  • Annual travel credit and anniversary mile
  • 75, 000 welcome miles
  • Low annual fee compared to other premium cards.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Airport lounge, resort, and other premium travel access
  • 80,000 welcome points
  • High reward rate on travel booked with the card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Three hundred dollars of flexible annual travel credit
  • 60,000 point welcome bonus
  • Best card for international travel.

5. Use a Travel Agent

If you’re looking to plan a big trip, using a travel agent can help you save a lot of money!

While some people see travel agents as outdated, they are an underrated resource.

Booking through an agent can get you bundled deals that are much cheaper than buying everything individually. They also have backdoor access that grants them specialist knowledge of rates, best travel times, special packages, and hidden deals.

Using a travel agent can also bring you peace of mind, especially if you’re traveling somewhere foreign to you.

It can be difficult to really get the most out of a new place, especially if you’ve never been and don’t speak the language.

If you go in on your own, you’ll be more susceptible to scams, inflated prices, and generally losing money.

An experienced travel agent can make anywhere you go just as accessible as your backyard, and make sure you have the trip of a lifetime along the way.

6. Travel During The Off Season

Traveling during the off-season is a sure way to save money!

This could mean visiting places during the winter or rainy season. While you might not get pristine weather everything will be cheaper; flights, accommodation, and especially activities.

Plus, for more popular destinations, the off-season is the best time to avoid large crowds and long wait times.

Even little details, like national park entrance fees, are often significantly cheaper or even waived during the off-season.

This also means you get to sidestep peak travel times. During holidays like spring break, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, flights are generally significantly more expensive with less availability.

Accommodation at popular tourist destinations is sure to be pricier at these popular times as well and is also high during all of summer break. If you’re traveling without kids, try to go on holiday during the school year!

7. Look For Coupons & Promotions

Anytime you plan to make a purchase related to your travel (or really any online purchase), it’s worth looking for a coupon!

There are coupons available for almost every aspect of travel: flights, accommodation, rental cars, activities and attractions, and even dining.

You can also use popular coupon sites like CouponFollow to find dozens of great coupons for sites like Delta, Priceline, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and many more!

Finding the perfect coupon can save you a lot of money on your travels. You should also keep an eye out for providers running special promotions, whether it’s for a specific product or over a specific time period.

These can often save you some cash as well, though it’s important to compare the prices with their everyday ones to ensure the deal is worth it.

In this day and age, I would hesitate to book something if I didn’t have a discount code! This goes hand in hand with booking early and comparing rates; finding a good discount is truly so worth it.

8. Look For Free Tourist Attractions

You don’t need to spend on everything you do!

Many areas – especially larger cities – have so much you can enjoy for free.

From parks, special events, markets, and museums to historical monuments, there’s bound to be plenty you can do without opening your wallet. You can find free events on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, as well as community pages.

Keep in mind that some things will only be free on certain days or at certain times, so plan accordingly.

If you’re traveling with kids, there will also be lots of activities that are free for children to attend – saving you half the ticket cost!

There are also often free or discounted activities and admissions for students, older adults, and other groups, so be sure to check and see if you’re applicable.

You can also save a lot of money by going your own way rather than booking guided tours.

For example, many museums are free for admission but have pricy tours or special exhibits.

You can also often find the major attractions in a city yourself, so there’s no need to book a bus or tiki tour unless you really want to!

9. Be Smart About Your Shopping

You don’t need to turn every vacation into a massive shopping trip, even if it’s tempting!

Make sure to do your research and pack everything you need to avoid paying inflated prices at your destination.

That goes for little things like rain jackets or sunscreen, and larger aspects like pre-arranging transportation to avoid costly Uber or taxi trips.

When you’re eating out (and you should!), look at TripAdvisor or other sites for the best restaurants for your dollar in town.

Try and avoid eating at museums, parks, or near major attractions, as it will likely be more expensive (as well as crowded – and often not great!)

If you’re traveling with kids or snacky adults, make sure to bring snacks to avoid having to stop in anywhere unplanned.

10. Choose a Unique Destination

The most popular travel destinations are likely to also be the most expensive.

Instead, you can save a lot of money while having a different and exciting experience!

This applies to so many different scales of travel, from local activities to big international trips.

Rather than hitting the amusement park for a weekend outing, check out the strange local museum for free and have a picnic.

Explore a new and exciting country, rather than a trip to Paris, London, or other major European cities.

You can often find similar natural wonders close to the well-known ones! The smaller national parks and areas surrounding many “Wonders of the World” are just as stunning and beautiful – without the overly inflated price tag.

As well as saving money, you can have an absolutely amazing travel experience somewhere you haven’t heard much about. There is a mystery and intrigue to the unknown, why not explore it?

11. Don’t Try to Pack Too Much In

You’re already paying for your accommodation, so there’s no shame in being there for longer!

Plus, vacations are for sleeping in. While it’s definitely fun to do activities, try and stick to one or two a day and save yourself time to rest and explore on your own.

This will be easier on the wallet, as well as being a better, more relaxing experience overall. Take your time and enjoy what you’ve paid for, rather than rushing off to the next thing right away.

When you are planning activities, make sure to group them by area. You don’t want to have to double up on travel costs and time.

This goes for shopping and dining as well! There is also so much that you can do for free, so make sure to take advantage.

12. Travel In A Group

While this may sound counterproductive, it's often much cheaper to travel in a group.

The bigger the better: this can be extended family, a large friend group or wedding party, or even connecting with strangers who have the same travel plans as you!

Going in a big group allows you to get a massive discount on activities, undergo creative rearranging to save money on accommodation, and even save money on flights if you plan early enough.

Look into special deals that are initialized by group bookings! Many places offer a discount for large parties, and you could even have attractions and activities all to yourself depending on group size.

Traveling with others also means you can share more, meaning each person has to pack less. You’ll also have more flexibility on child care, who does what, and just everything in general!

13. Stay on Land

One of the biggest expenses for any trip is the flights.

If you choose to travel by ground, on land, or even by boat, you can save a lot of money that would otherwise be an immediate expense!

Explore locations in your own country, take more time for deliberate, scenic travel, and enjoy the other perks such as more stops, bringing more of your own supplies, and setting your own itinerary.

It’s also much more eco-friendly not to fly, if that’s something you’re concerned about! Commuting on land is also much easier on children, older adults, or anyone with specialized needs.

about the author

Clay Cary
Senior Trends Analyst
As an e-commerce analyst at CouponFollow, Clay enjoys spending his time collaborating with brands to make helpful content for consumers and finding great deals to share on CouponFollow. As a recent college graduate, his primary focus is creating resources for consumers, especially students, to save money through online shopping and everyday life.