Vacation. It is an annual rite of passage for many families across the summer. Besides Christmas, vacation is usually the largest one-time expense each year. We all want to have an awesome vacation, no matter if we stay near for a staycation, or book an international trip for a few weeks. Budgeting for a nice vacation can be daunting, but there are ways to save money on your vacation if you just know where to look.
Before you book your next trip, you might consider using some of these apps to lower your vacation expenses and save some dough. And remember one little thing…
Now that you have that in your mind, let’s save you some money on your next vacation!
It is somewhat difficult to find deals on plane tickets in recent years as people continue to travel by air in record numbers. These sites can help you find the lowest prices without booking fees.
You can’t buy package deals or exclusive flash sales (yet) with Google Flights, but, it is the quickest way to sift through the various carriers, flight times, and fare prices. Once you find an itinerary you like, you are taken directly to the carrier to complete the reservation.
Google Flights also has some fun features that can help you quickly see the cheapest fares from your local airport by seeing all the possible destinations on the map.
The Flight Deal
If you wait until the last minute to book a flight, The Flight Deal publishes several deals daily. Many of the deals are sales to international locations departing from the U.S., and you might also be able to snag a hotel deal as well.
Lodging can also be as expensive flying. If you normally book a hotel reservation every time you travel, you might try these alternatives to stretch your dollar a little further.
Whether you are taking a spur of the moment trip or simply wait until the last minute to score a bargain, HotelTonight partners with hotels to sell unbooked rooms at discounted prices. You can book up to one week in advance or even a same day reservation. Your choices range from chain hotels and local hotels, so it can be an opportunity to earn points or try some place unique.
If you tire of the typical hotel life where every room looks identical and the sound of a slamming door in the hallway wakes you up each time you fall asleep, you might like booking a private place with Airbnb. Your lodging can be an upstairs room in the Airbnb host’s house, a treehouse, or even a single family house. Prices are often competitive or cheaper than rates charged by a hotel.
Although it is possible to find lodging for the whole family, most Airbnb listings are ideal for singles and traveling couples. If you have small children, you will need to view the listing description to see if the host allows them.
Another way to save money by not sleeping in a motel is with VRBO. This is a better option if you have a family. If you need to book two hotel rooms to get more than two beds, your lodging costs just doubled. With VRBO, you can book a whole house cheaper than a hotel would cost and you get access to a kitchen that can save you money by not having to go out to eat for every single meal.
There are a couple of different ways to save money with the Ebates cash back portal on hotel rooms. You can get a small cash back percentage by booking directly from the hotel. A second way that just rolled out in the spring of 2017 is Ebates Hotels which is their version of a third-party booking portal that you to receive a higher cash back rate than if you were to book directly through the hotel with Ebates.
Hotel Credit Cards
This suggestion isn’t technically an app, but, hotel credit cards can be an easy way to save money on lodging. Some cards like the Marriott Rewards Premier and IHG Rewards Club credit cards from Chase come with one free night each year you own the card. When you play your cards right (pun intended), you can earn a sign-up bonus for extra credit card points that can be worth up to one week in free hotel nights.
Everybody knows how much they will pay for transportation and lodging before the vacation starts, but, you might not put much thought into your dining budget. Depending on the size of your family and the restaurants you want to visit, food can become expensive too.
If you like eating at “mom and pop” restaurants that the locals crave, you might try looking for gift certificates at Restaurant.com. This site doesn’t have the biggest selection to choose from, but you can often buy certificates for 50% off.
Some restaurants do require a minimum order amount on the meal price (i.e. $50) before the discount is applied, so take a look at the menu before buying the certificate to ensure you will meet their spending requirements.
Raise is one of the best places to buy discounted gift cards for your favorite restaurants and stores. You can save anywhere from 1% to 35% at your favorite chain restaurants like Applebee’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, or Starbucks for your morning coffee routine.
One reason we go on vacation is to have fun sightseeing or trying new things. Save some money by visiting Groupon. You might be able to find some savings on family activities, theme parks, and even restaurants.
If you are visiting a major city and plan to visit several attractions, CityPASS can save you a bundle of money. Some of the cities they offer bundles include Chicago, Boston, Dallas, and Southern California. As an example, you can save $153 with the Southern California pass instead of buying individual tickets to Disneyland (three-day park hopper), SeaWorld San Diego, and LEGOLAND California.
If CityPASS doesn’t have a discount to your vacation destination check the website of the local tourism agency or attraction you plan to visit. If a ticket bundle is offered, you can save money by purchasing them in advance online.
Whenever you travel, don’t think that you need to pay full price for every expense. By taking a few extra minutes, you can save hundreds of dollars by looking for bundles and being “unconventional” about vacation. Vacation is a time to relax and saving money before the trip even begins, means you can rest even easier.
Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Even if you don’t plan on getting a loan, a good credit score can affect your ability to get a job, a place to live, and will save you money whenever you need to borrow. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get yours free at Credit Sesame. It’s 100% free with no credit card required to signup. I’ve been using it for years to monitor my credit score.