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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vacation for a Fraction of the Cost

We are just 3 short weeks away from a little trip I like to call "School's Out For Summer." We will be spending a weekend in Chattanooga and I'm already scoring deals left and right.

Here's how you can have a fun vacation on the cheap too.
  • Plan. My husband has a very laid back approach to vacationing but, in the back of his mind, he has a list of things he would like to do. I'm the exact opposite. I would be perfectly fine with a scheduled itinerary for every day of the trip. However, in order to save some money we have to meet in the middle because, typically, deals don't just fall in your lap after you show up. You gotta find them before you go.
  • Hotel. Reservations are necessary to ensure you have lodging. I used Hotels.com to score a great price on a hotel that also serves complimentary breakfast. Be sure to look for those extra perks when you choose your accommodations. Also, Hotels.com has a reward program that earns you 1 FREE night for every 5 nights you stay (does not have to be consecutive).
  • Dining. Hotel will have breakfast taken care of but we know that we will need at least 5 meals (2 dinners + 3 lunches) while we are at our destination. I've been following daily deal sites like Groupon & Living Social (new subscribers get $5) in my destination city, as well as Restaurant.com to find gift certificates for half price or less.
  • Attractions. For this trip, we decided on 2 big things (1 each day) that we definitely wanted to see or do. I've been scouring Ebay & Craigslist for deals on those attraction tickets. So far, I've been able to save at least 50%, which is huge because these attractions are pretty pricey.
  • Snacks. We are all big snackers. To save us from having to purchase these on the road, I will be packing a small cooler with food and drinks. I also plan to prepare small baggies of snacks to take with us while we are out and about each day.
  • Gas. There isn't a whole lot you can do here and it always seems that gas prices rise in the summer. :( I like to take advantage of the Publix gas card coupons that will save you $10 off a $50 gift card to BP or Shell. They run these promotions about once every 4-6 weeks. I also use the Gas Buddy app on my phone to locate the cheapest gas in whatever area we are traveling. Sometimes it's worth it to go just one more exit.
  • Cash Back. If I'm doing any sort of online purchase, I always go through Ebates. All of the retail links above can be shopped through Ebates where you earn a percentage back on your purchase. For example, right now, they are offering 15% cash back at Restaurant.com when you shop through their site.
A little planning really does go a long way as far as saving money on vacation. At this point, we know what attractions we are going to see and where we are going to eat but I'm leaving the WHEN up to hubby. See, I can compromise. :)

Do you feel like any of the above tips will help you save money on your summer vacation?


1 comment:

Robert and Hannah said...

I'm with Mike on this one; I'm a fan of spontaneity on vacation... but you're right, you're not gonna get the deals that way. Blah. I hate to plan! Totally bookmarking this one though 'cause I love to save. ;)