4 Ways to Save Money on Your Summer Vacation

Managing Money / Monday, June 9th, 2014

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like to travel.

I know that’s not popular to say, but there it is.

dinner cruise 1

The reasons are at least twofold:

  1. I have some anxiety about flying and travel in general.
  2. I’m a homebody. I just really enjoy being home.

Having said all that, I’ve traveled quite a bit. My husband’s business makes it possible for us to travel affordably to at least one great destination every year. And we’ve done traveling on our own too.

So with the knowledge that most people are more enthusiastic travelers than I am, and that the prime travel season (summer!) is upon us, here are some ways we’ve found to save money when traveling.

Piggy back on business.

My husband’s company sends us on a trip each summer. (Technically, he earns these trips, but he’s earned one every year since 1996, so it seems like they just show up like magic. I’m sure he loves that.) Sometimes we use these as little getaways for just the two of us, but many years we’ve paid to take the kids along. Since the hotel room and two airfares are already paid for, it’s an affordable way to take a family vacation.

Take a staycation.

Often we don’t explore the area that is our own back yard. Taking a staycation, a long weekend, or even a daytrip can save considerable money. Even if you stay in a hotel, you avoid the cost of airfare and – maybe even as important – the hassle of it.

To look at your area through new eyes, check out your closet city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau or do a web search for ‘day trips from Anytown, USA’. You might be surprised at what pops up.

Get cash back on your travel costs.

I’m old enough to remember when a vacation of any significance (certainly one that required airfare) required a travel agent. My husband and I booked our honeymoon to Maui through an agent, as well as our trip to San Francisco a year after that.

But somewhere along the line we (or more accurately I) started planning and purchasing our own travel. It probably coincided with having access to the internet. And since earning cash back on online purchases is part of my found money strategy, I make sure to go through my favorite sites, Ebates and Mr. Rebates to earn cash back at places like Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity, and most major airlines and hotel chains.

Use points and miles.

Even in this day of email, text, Skype, Go To Meeting, etc. the airports and hotels are full of business travelers. If you’re one of those – or are married to one – you no doubt have taken advantage of the airline miles and hotel points you’ve racked up and used them to do a little personal travel.

Even if your job keeps you homebound, you can use an airline or hotel credit card for everyday purchases and earn points and miles that way. For years, our main credit card was a hotel branded one and we’ve earned many nights of free stays as a result. Even now, that remains our secondary card so we earn one once in a while.

Are you a travel enthusiast or a more reluctant traveler like me? What are your best money saving tips?

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