budget

15 Insider Tips to Enjoy a Debt-Free Vacation

5 Minute Read

If you go on a trip this summer without making a budget, your money will disappear faster than a sand castle at high tide. To help you make great memories without going into debt, we asked Dave’s Facebook fans to share how they saved cash while enjoying a work-free week of debt-free bliss. Here are the top 15 money-saving tips:

1. Save a Little Each Week

“I did the $1 savings jar: Week one, save $1; week two, save $2; and so on . . . After a full year, you will have over $1,300 saved! It’s such a minimal increase, you don’t notice it. Just fit it into your zero-based budget!” — Keri B.

2. Ask for a Discount

“We went to Jamaica for our 10-year anniversary. We’ve learned to always ask for a military discount when booking a vacation. Even in Jamaica they gave us 10% off our resort when we asked. Always ask!” — Cynthia P.

3. Go All-Inclusive

“When we’re on a tight budget, we book a cruise or an all-inclusive resort so we know exactly how much we need and there are no surprises. We plan ahead for tipping and usually spend no more than $50 on extras.” — Sarah C.

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Bonus tip: Be sure to set aside a buffer of cash in case there are hidden fees.

4. Vacation When the Kids Are Away

“We planned our vacation while the kids were at summer camp . We went away for five days to refresh and do what we love: hiking and floating down the river. We paid cash for the entire trip and spent less than $800.” — Jennifer W.

5. Speak to a Real Person

“Make reservations in advance and check for online deals, but before you book, call a representative to see if they can find you something even better. We booked our suite so far in advance that half the nights were only $4!” — Courtney W.

6. Rent From a Friend

“Ask around. We stayed at a condo owned by a friend of a friend and got a good deal. We paid much less than if we had simply rented the first condo we saw.” — John H.

Bonus tip: Don’t forgot online tools like Airbnb, HomeAway or FlipKey to help you find a vacation rental at an affordable cost.

7. Shop Black Friday

“We always book the next year’s vacation on Black Friday. Lots of times they run good discounts on Black Friday only.” — Lori B.

8. Bundle Your Travel

“We went to Boston for seven days and saved over $500 by booking our hotel and airfare together instead of purchasing the hotel and flight separately.” — Travis C.

Related: It’s True! You Can Travel Without a Credit Card

9. Plan With Envelopes

“I took my nephew on a graduation trip to Japan for 18 days. I saved for a year using the envelope system. I had an envelope for flights, tours and daily spending. We also had an envelope for each day of our vacation, and that’s all we would spend.” — Kimberly H.

10. Try an Indirect Flight

“We went to Key West for eight nights and saved big money flying to Fort Lauderdale instead of flying direct.” — Abby D.

Bonus tip: Search for airports located near your destination. You might be surprised how much money you could save by flying in to a neighboring city and taking an Uber to your hotel.

11. Broaden Your Hotel Search

“We went on a four-day honeymoon and paid cash for it all. We saved more than $300 by staying 25 minutes from the beach.” — Mellisa C.

12. Bring Your Meals

“I make a few freezer meals and put them fully frozen in a cooler. We get a room with a fridge, and then use the slow cooker to warm the meals while we’re out and about. It saves a ton of money.” — Stephanie R.

13. Buy a “Go Pass”

“We took advantage of the Go Pass for Orlando. These are available for a lot of major U.S. cities and offer considerable savings to big attractions!” — Beth C.

Bonus tip: Many theme parks and museums have deals that let you visit multiple locations for a discount—or even the price of one! If you’re already staying multiple days, this could help you stretch your money.

14. Eat Out Early

“We would eat an early dinner, get the specials, and beat the crowd. The best part was we had the beach to ourselves for sunset because everyone was waiting to eat at the restaurants.” — Richie H.

15. Take a Staycation

“We are paying off major medical bills so we decided to stay home. We still had a vacation—just locally. We visited an arts center, saw an opera, and attended local events for little or no money. And eating a picnic at a park was fun and intimate.” — Rask B.

Whether you’re taking a family of six to the beach or planning a European getaway for two, figure out how much vacation you can actually afford. If you’re planning to go somewhere later in the summer or early fall, you still have time to save for a great trip—and pay for it in cash!

Need a way to budget for your next vacation? Check out our free budget app EveryDollar.

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