10 Ways To Have An Unforgettable Vacation On A Budget

Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved to travel. Back then, my parents saved up their money all year for our annual trip to Florida. It was the vacation we looked forward to all year and couldn't wait to go. Now that I'm a parent, I know firsthand what it's really like when needing to scrimp and save, especially when we are planning trips. We always go to the beach for a week and the hubs and I always go away for a weekend to celebrate our anniversary. In between, we sometimes stay in hotels when driving to visit my parents out of state. 

I'm a stay at home mom and my husband is a state employee (enough said, I'm sure) so, we are always cutting coupons, buying things on sale, and trying to save money any way we possibly can. That's why it's been particularly important for us to learn the tricks to saving money when traveling! It's taken a few years, but we do have a few tips to share so, here are my 10 tips for a nice trip or vacation without breaking the bank:

1. Take Advantage of Paypal- We actually sell things on Ebay throughout the year to make some extra money and the payments immediately go to Paypal. By the time a trip comes around, we have a great amount of money saved up because we never cash it out. With Paypal, you can purchase trips, cruises, and hotels at a discounted price with your Paypal money! Even if you don't find a deal you like, you've saved up some money and can cash it out to your checking account free of charge. 

2. Be Watchful of Good Deals- We are members of several daily deal sites and receive emails on a daily basis with all of their great deals. Some sell vacations and hotel room while others sell things like gift cards and store credit. You could possibly find a great vacation and find gift cards for restaurants and other fun activities in the area you wish to vacation!

3. One Word: Priceline - I honestly cannot say enough about Priceline. They often have great deals listed, but you can also name your own price. We've gotten 4-Star Hotels for amazing prices. Last month we stayed at the W Atlanta, one of my favorite hotels, for only $45 a night! Usually rooms run at prices around $200+! 

4. The Earlier You Start Looking, The Better! You may not be going on vacation for another 3 months, but that's ok. You may find some random deal somewhere. Plus, if you use Priceline, you can name your own price with the same requirements every single day so, if you don't get the price you want one day, you may get it the next day!

5. There's A Good Reason For Going Off-Season! We actually learned this just last year. My parents liked to go to the beach on the 4th of July, the peak season when prices are at their highest. My Mom-In-Law wanted a trip with the grandkids and had a break in September, which happened to work out amazingly. Many beach hotels and resorts run Buy 3 Nights, Get 1 Free specials during this time of year. We actually ended up with a wonderful oceanfront resort for 4 days at only about $65 a night! I was amazed because the resort was brand new, too!

6. Go To BiddingForTravel.com Before Purchasing Or Bidding! A friend just recently told me about this website and it's awesome. Basically, people who bid on hotels through places like Priceline.com list their deals on the BiddingForTravel.com forum. So, you can go look around to see how much hotels are going for around the places you want to vacation. You may be planning on bidding $80 for a hotel room and see that they are actually going for only $50. It's a great money saver!

7. Delicious Meals at Discounted Prices! Restaurant.com is the way to go for great deals on restaurants across the U.S.! I have a few tips regarding this service and my experiences. 1. Don't ever purchase the deals at regular price on the website. There are always codes for 80% off somewhere so you can get a $25 gift certificate for about $3. If there isn't a sale running that day, chances are there will be within a few days. They are always sending me emails with special codes so, sign up to start getting those codes. 2. Read all of the instructions for the gift certificate BEFORE purchasing it. You may think you are getting a great deal, paying $6 for a $50 gift credit, but they often require you purchasing at least $100 worth of food, which is near impossible at some restaurants! (Yes, this happened to me and we ended up gorging ourselves to reach the $100. lol!) 

8. Don't Eat Out, Dine In! You can spend so much money eating out at restaurants on vacation. In stead of eating out, get a condo or extended stay hotel with a kitchen(ette). You could go out to an Italian restaurant and purchase spaghetti for $19.95 per person OR make it at your condo for all of $6 total. It's a no brainer for someone with a big family. 

9. Don't Use Gas, Get A Pass! If you fly somewhere, consider NOT getting a rental car. There are many other cheaper options. You will probably pay at least $50 a day for your rental when you could easily get a transit pass (bus, train, underground, metro, etc.) for much cheaper. Depending which city/country you are in, this can not only be less expensive, but the preferred, quicker way to travel around. 

10. Just Cruisin'? If you want to save a ton of money, but want to go somewhere out of the ordinary, consider a cruise. You can find really great deals, especially if you are booking in advanced or even last minute. A few years ago I went through a travel agent several months before my cruise and ended up booking a suite with a balcony and seperate living area for only about $700 a person. That's $100 a day for everything- food, drinks (non-alcoholic), entertainment, and much more. Of course, there are expensive parts of the cruise, too, but there are ways to save money there, too. When looking for deals on a cruise, look for those that also include on-board credits! We booked through Travelocity once and got $200 in credit for the cruise!

So, what do you do to save money when vacationing? I'm always up for learning more tips about saving. We have definitely saved a ton of money from planning and just thinking ahead. Even when you save $1 through coupons, you may not think it's much, but  it honestly adds up very quickly! So, get out there and start planning your next vacation! Spring and summer will soon be here! Yay!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


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