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Last updated Jun. 27, 2024 by Peter Jakes

Summer vacations are a fantastic opportunity to relax, explore new destinations, and enjoy quality time with family and friends. However, the costs associated with traveling can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to make your summer vacation budget-friendly without sacrificing fun and comfort. Here are 19 money-saving tips to help you make the most of your summer getaway.

1. Plan Ahead

One of the most effective ways to save money on your summer vacation is to plan ahead. Start researching early to find the best deals on flights, accommodations, and activities. Booking in advance often leads to significant savings and allows you to budget more effectively.

2. Travel During the Off-Season

If your schedule allows, consider traveling during the shoulder season—just before or after the peak summer months. Prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions are generally lower, and you’ll also encounter fewer crowds.

3. Be Flexible with Your Dates

Flexibility can be your best friend when it comes to saving money on travel. Use fare comparison websites to see if flying on different days can save you money. Mid-week flights are often cheaper than weekend flights.

4. Look for Package Deals

Travel agencies and online booking platforms often offer package deals that include flights, hotels, and sometimes even activities. These bundles can provide substantial discounts compared to booking everything separately.

5. Use Travel Rewards and Loyalty Programs

Make use of any travel rewards or loyalty points accumulated through credit cards, airlines, or hotel chains. These can significantly reduce the cost of your vacation, offering free or discounted flights, hotel stays, and other perks.

6. Opt for Alternative Accommodations

Consider staying in vacation rentals, hostels, or bed and breakfasts instead of traditional hotels. These options are often cheaper and provide unique, local experiences. Websites like Airbnb or offer plenty of budget-friendly choices.

7. Book Accommodations with Kitchens

Eating out for every meal can quickly deplete your budget. Booking accommodations with kitchen facilities allows you to prepare your own meals, saving you a substantial amount of money.

8. Travel Light

Avoid checked baggage fees by traveling with just a carry-on. Not only does this save money, but it also makes it easier to move around and reduces the likelihood of lost luggage.

9. Use Public Transportation

Instead of renting a car or relying on taxis, use public transportation to get around. Buses, trains, and subways are usually much cheaper and provide the added bonus of experiencing the local culture more intimately.

10. Look for Free Activities

Many destinations offer a variety of free activities and attractions, such as museums, parks, festivals, and markets. Do some research to find out what is available at your destination so you can plan a fun and budget-friendly itinerary.

11. Get Tourist Passes

Some cities offer tourist passes that provide discounts or free entry to a variety of attractions. These passes often include public transportation and can save you a lot of money if you plan on visiting multiple tourist sites.

12. Eat Like a Local

Instead of dining at expensive tourist-oriented restaurants, eat where the locals do. Street vendors, local markets, and small eateries often offer delicious, authentic food at a fraction of the price.

13. Travel with Friends or Family

Group travel can significantly cut costs as you can share expenses like accommodations, transportation, and meals. Plus, travel is often more enjoyable with good company.

14. Use Discount and Coupon Websites

Websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and others offer discounts on activities, dining, and services in various destinations. Be sure to check these sites before you go to find deals that can save you money.

15. Take Advantage of Student, Senior, or AAA Discounts

If you’re a student, senior citizen, or AAA member, you may qualify for discounts on travel, accommodations, and activities. Always ask if there are discounts available when making reservations or purchasing tickets.

16. Bring Your Own Snacks and Drinks

Pack your own snacks and drinks for outings and day trips. This can save you a lot of money compared to buying food and beverages at tourist spots or convenience stores.

17. Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

If you’re traveling internationally, use a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. These fees can add up over time, eating into your vacation budget.

18. Monitor Exchange Rates

Keep an eye on currency exchange rates and exchange your money when rates are favorable. Avoid changing money at airports, as they typically offer the worst rates.

19. Be Mindful of Souvenir Spending

It’s easy to overspend on souvenirs, so set a budget for these extras. Consider purchasing small, meaningful items rather than expensive trinkets, and look for local markets where you may find better deals.

✓ Short Answer

Saving money on summer vacations can be achieved through careful planning and smart choices, such as booking in advance, traveling during the off-season, using loyalty points, and opting for budget accommodations. Consider eating locally, utilizing public transport, and looking for free or discounted activities. Group travel and using discount websites can also significantly reduce costs.


How far in advance should I book my vacation to get the best deals?

It’s generally a good idea to book flights and accommodations 3-6 months in advance. This timeframe often offers the best balance between availability and pricing. However, monitor prices regularly, as deals can sometimes appear closer to your travel date.

Is it cheaper to book flights and hotels separately or as a package?

This can vary depending on the destination and timing. Package deals provided by travel agencies or online booking platforms often offer significant savings. However, it’s essential to compare the package prices with booking everything separately to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Are loyalty programs really worth it for occasional travelers?

Yes, even occasional travelers can benefit from loyalty programs. Many airlines and hotels offer points or miles that don’t expire for a few years. Additionally, some credit cards offer travel rewards that can accumulate quickly, potentially saving you money on future trips.

What are some examples of free activities I can enjoy on vacation?

Free activities can include visiting public parks, beaches, and museums (on free admission days), hiking, attending local festivals or markets, and exploring city landmarks and scenic spots.

How can I avoid foreign transaction fees while traveling internationally?

Many travel credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees. It’s also possible to withdraw cash from ATMs that are part of your bank’s global network to minimize fees. Be sure to notify your bank of your travel plans to avoid any issues with card usage while abroad.

What’s the best way to find local dining spots?

Research online travel forums, blogs, and websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor for local dining recommendations. Asking locals for their favorite dining spots is another excellent way to find delicious and affordable meals.

By incorporating these money-saving tips, you can enjoy a memorable and budget-friendly summer vacation without the stress of overspending. Prioritize your spending, seek out discounts, and make smart choices to maximize your travel experience. Bon voyage!

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