20 ways to save on vacation
Planning on taking a vacation this summer? Don't forget to pack your sunscreen, beach towels and these 20 money-saving tips.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
Eighty-seven percent of Americans surveyed for Choice Hotels International said they planned to take at least as many summer vacation trips as they did last year, and 21% said they definitely expect more summer travel. Nine out of 10 said they're looking for the best value in their hotel stay.
Surprisingly, when asked what they consider to be a good value from a hotel, 75% ranked free breakfast as their No. 1 priority. While I love free cinnamon rolls as much as the next girl, that isn't the best way to save money on a vacation. Stacy Johnson shares his five top tips in the video below. Then read on for more ways to go on vacation without going broke.
1. Be flexible with both time and place. You'll save the most if you keep your vacation options open -- and that includes both travel times and locations. For times, book in the off-peak seasons when popular destinations are cheaper. For locations, you'll pay less year-round for less popular destinations. For example, instead of Miami, try Fort Myers, Fla.
2. Compare transportation options. Don't limit yourself to flying or driving. Depending on the distance, day of the week, and time of year, it may be more cost-effective to take a train. For example, the travel costs for a trip I'm planning from New Orleans to Chicago break down like this:
- Estimated driving cost -- $554
- Cost on American Airlines -- $394
- Cost on Amtrak -- $234
Also, a new breed of luxury buses operates in several states -- cheaper than flying, but with more legroom, free Wi-Fi and other amenities.
3. Fly midweek. If you do decide to fly, tickets are typically cheaper midweek. Most airline sales start on Tuesday and end on Thursday, and the two cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesday and Wednesday.
4. Travel light. Some airlines, like JetBlue and Southwest, allow you to check one or two bags for free, but most charge an additional fee for your luggage. Airfarewatchdog has compiled a list of airline luggage fees. If you're flying on an airline that charges, downgrade your suitcase to a carry-on. Not only is it cheaper, it's easier to handle and there's less risk of loss or damage.
Worried about not having enough stuff to wear? That's what laundromats and hand washing are for.
Don't assume that because you don't live in a vacation destination, nobody would want to stay at your home. People choose their destinations for lots of reasons, from business to visiting Grandma.
11. Dine out less. Dining out is my single biggest "extra" when I travel. During a three-day weekend in Austin, Texas, I spent more than $150 on food. Don't do that. Instead, book a hotel room with an in-room kitchen, rent a vacation home, or do a house swap and cook most of your meals.
12. Use discount food apps. If you do dine out, use a restaurant-locating app to find special deals and the best prices. Some of my favorite apps include:
Split your meal in half, ask the waiter to box it up and use the hotel's mini fridge for storage. That way, you get two meals for the price of one.
13. Turn your vacation into a tax deduction. Turn your vacation into a business trip and you can write off some of your expenses, including transportation, lodging, dining out and even some cruises.
14. Take an alternative vacation. No one says your vacation has to include a pricey tourist destination. There are plenty of cheaper ways to enjoy some down time. For example:
- Take a staycation in your own city and live like a tourist for a few days.
- Go camping in a national or state park.
- Visit your state's capital for the weekend.
- Visit friends or family (especially those with guest rooms).
More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:
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