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How to cut costs and still have fun on vacation

Categories: Balancing Act, holidays

1 comment

By Britt Reints from Miss Britt

I’m a firm believer that travel is much more affordable than most people think - and that a lot of “money saving ideas” suck the fun right out of traveling. Sure, you can save money by staying at the motel an hour outside of the most popular tourist attractions and eating PB&J for a week, but you’d probably have more fun staying home! How can you fit more traveling into your budget and still find ways to actually enjoy the places you’re visiting? A little creativity and prioritizing is all you need.

1. Pick one or two must-see’s and must-do’s. It’s so tempting to try to “do it all” when you visit a new place, but that’s a recipe for blowing your budget and stressing everyone out. Instead, have each member of your group pick one or two priorities. Leave the rest of your time free for relaxing (which is inevitably when the best moments will happen).

2. Grocery shop. Eating out three meals a day is one of the biggest expenses most travelers endure - and often one of the biggest wastes of money. Do you really need to spend $10 on a breakfast sandwich? Shopping for breakfast and snack items will save you money without interfering with your overall travel experience.

3. Splurge on lunch. If there’s a restaurant in the area you’re dying to try, consider going for lunch when the menu is often less expensive. You’re also less likely to need a reservation. You can end the day with a quiet (store-bought) lunch in your hotel.

4. Play like a local. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon activity or a night spot, finding out where the locals spend their time is a great to save money and have a unique travel experience. Tourist destinations are often unnecessarily expensive and rarely deliver more quality to make up for increased prices. Instead of asking the concierge for tips, ask a police officer where he goes for dinner or a subway passenger where they get drinks on the weekend. is also a great resource for recommendations from locals.

5. Skimp where you can so you can splurge where you want. When you’re planning your trip, decide what your motives for going are and what type of luxuries or experiences are most important to you. You can spend a little more for the things that matter most to you and then go super cheap on the things that don’t. Maybe you do actually eat PB&J all week so you can spend a day at a great spa, or you skip the spa and the local museums in order to stay in a great hotel right on the beach.

The key to a great vacation (and, I’d argue, a great life) is to get clear on your personal priorities so you know what’s worth investing time and money into, and where it’s totally OK to cut corners.

Do you have any tips from your travels?

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One comment so far...

  • I completely agree, Britt. My husband and I just took a fabulous Caribbean vacation. We grocery shopped for breakfast, snack, and adult beverages. That way, we still enjoyed local food and some splurge meals out without spending ALL our time or money in restaraunts. Drinking our own rum punches or beer on the beach was easy (15 steps from our hotel room) and MUCH cheaper than going to a bar. We also picked three activities and left the rest of the time open. It made for a TREMENDOUSLY wonderful trip.

    In addition to yelp, I also highly recomend tripadvisor.

    elz  |  July 19th, 2011 at 7:32 pm