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10 ways to save money on your next vacation

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Everyone loves a vacation, and now that people around the world are getting vaccinated, a vacation (or holiday) is at the top of their To-Do list. Here are 10 tips to save money on your next vacation.

vacation

Vacations are a great way to see new things, make new friends, have fun, and just recharge and refresh. However, vacations can be expensive, and when money is tight, travel is often the first expense on the chopping block. But it doesn’t have to be. Before you cancel those holiday plans, read on — your vacation is about to get a lot less expensive. Here are our top 10 vacation savings tips, in no particular order.

1. Take a “staycation”

The pandemic has popularized the stay-at-home vacation. Why not follow the trend and spend some time enjoying your home town or nearby city as a tourist would? You can even stay in a local hotel! Visit museums and landmarks, take tours, lounge around the hotel pool, go to shows and eat out in restaurants (especially those you’ve never visited previously). You’ll save a fortune on travel costs and gain a new appreciation for your area and become a local expert.

2. Take the car instead of flying

Airfare can often be the single most expensive component of a vacation and it can be especially painful for a large family that has to buy multiple tickets. Instead, pack up the kids, hop in the car and drive to your destination. You can easily save several thousand dollars, plus a road-trip can be exciting, with the drive being half the fun. You’ll create memories you won’t forget.

3. Rent an apartment or house swap

Why pay $300 for one night in a small hotel room when you can pay half as much for a fully-equipped central condo or apartment? Millions of people annually use websites like Vacation Rentals by Owner and AirBnB to source and rent private residences or vacation homes in cities and countries around the world. Alternatively, try swapping homes with someone in your preferred destination and stay for free while living like a local. Companies like Home Exchange have been at this for years and offer thousands of options in over 100 countries.

With both options, not only will you save on your accommodation expense, but, you can also save a fortune on meals by using the kitchen. Just be sure to do your homework and check the reviews before booking.

4. Use a discount card

Everyone loves a good discount, especially at restaurants or attractions you might visit anyway. While coupons can be trouble to find and manage, and may have poor offers or restrictions, there are excellent and more effective alternatives, depending upon your destination.

For instance, for great savings on dining, plus a mix of other things like shopping and entertainment, check out Eat and Play Card (an Attractions Magazine sponsor) which offers hard-to-beat deals in America’s top two travel destinations: New York City and Orlando. One card is valid for up to four people and is a bargain at only $25. Attractions Magazine Club and VIP subscribers get one free with their subscription. You’ll recover the cost in just one or two uses.

If your thing is attractions and you plan to visit many, try CityPass. Available for many cities, a one-time cost gets you “free” access to roughly six of a city’s premier attractions.

5. Travel off-peak

It’s popular to take vacations around national holidays and school breaks — and that’s why it’s so expensive. Try taking your vacations in off-peak seasons like the fall. The weather is often better, the crowds are smaller, and so, too, will be the strain on your bank account. For the theme parks, just keep in mind that if school is in session, the crowds won’t be as large.

6. Stay in a hostel

A hostel is no longer just a big room crammed with bunk beds and backpackers — just ask the folks at HostelWorld.com, they have over 30,000 you can choose from. These days, hostels often offer various accommodation options, including private rooms, and it’s not uncommon to find some hostels with more amenities than hotels. Granted, you might have to share the bathroom, but 10 minutes out of every day seems to be a manageable tradeoff for what can easily amount to savings of 75% on accommodation expenses.

7. Fly on Saturdays

Saturdays are often the least expensive day of the week to fly, in part because everyone wants to already be where they’re going on that day. Plan to fly on Saturday and you could possibly save yourself a couple of hundred bucks on airfare, but be sure to check different days for different prices.

8. Take a shorter vacation

Everyone likes a long holiday, but surely five days is better than none. Try taking a five-day holiday instead of seven or 10 days, and not only will you save the cost of accommodation, but also expenses like dining and entertainment. If you have the extra days available to take off, how about taking your car instead of flying and plan to use those days as driving days? Or simply extend your holiday with a brief staycation once you’ve returned home. Sometime you need a vacation from your vacation.

9. Choose a more affordable destination

Some say “a beach is a beach,” so why not choose the less expensive? For instance, Dominican Republic is generally less expensive than the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and even Mexico. Or if you’re interested in visiting Europe, destinations like Barcelona or the Algarve in Portugal are often much less expensive than comparable destinations such as London, Paris, or the French Riviera. Similarly, if a Las Vegas-style vacation replete with casinos and shows floats your boat, look at Reno, Nev., or Branson, Mo. as viable and less-expensive alternatives. There is always a less-expensive and very similar option to be found. Ask a travel agent’s advice — that’s what they do! Which brings us to…

10. Use a travel agent

If you could have someone help you plan your vacation and help you get the best deals, and it wouldn’t cost you anything to hire them, why wouldn’t you do it? Most travel agents don’t charge you anything; they make their money directly from the travel companies they work with, and those costs aren’t passed on to you. Plus planning vacations is what they do for a living, so they’re the experts on how to find the best deals. If you happen to see a deal that seems cheaper than what the travel agent found for you, let them know and they can look into it and let you know if there are any catches.

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