How to Save Money for Travel
Most of us can’t just pick up and go on a vacation without going into some serious debt. So I’ve decided to pass along to you the things I’ve learned over the years to stretch a dollar, save a dollar and spend a dollar wisely.
Sometimes I feel that these are the most obvious choices and that is why they are often overlooked. We have saved countless dollars and have experienced many new adventures because of sites like Groupon and Living Social. We’ve discovered things we never even knew existed! I love the restaurant options that are also available; however, I always double check the reviews on Yelp to make sure it’s a decent restaurant.
Sign up for specific e-mail lists
When we decided to book a trip to Denver this past Spring I went online to find things that would be fun for the family. I came across the Denver Aquarium so I went onto their website, signed up to receive e-mail updates and event notifications and within minutes I had a coupon in my inbox for half off an admission ticket. YES! Instant money saved for something I was already planning to do. Once we returned from vacation I simply unsubscribed and keep my inbox free of promotions that I no longer need.
“GO” passes and city cards
If you plan to be somewhere for a couple of days and do all the major touristy things then the Go passes could be for you. Look at the list on the website of places the card will cover and choose things you want to do. Check the prices of tickets if you buy direct from each activity (sometimes there are specials, seasonal promotions, military discounts etc that will add up to huge savings) add it all up and make sure it’s not cheaper than the card itself.
Most places will offer student discounts, military discounts and senior discounts. You’d be surprised how many discounts you can get just by being a member of Costco, AAA or AARP. Be sure to ask when you purchase or reserve anything.
Put that annoying pocket change to work
Most of us can’t stand that jingle of change in our pockets or the additional weight of it being in our purses, I have found the perfect solution! Don’t count it out on your next $3.52 transaction just put it in a big jar or box at home and save it. In an average year our family saves around $1,000 just in loose coins! We cash it in before vacation and either pay for someone’s airfare with it or use it as spending money while traveling.
Reloadable cards and gift cards
Before going to Disneyland I went down to my local Disney store and started a gift card with $20. Every paycheck I would budget anywhere from $20-$80 and put it on the card. Over a years period I was able to put enough money on the Disney card to purchase 3 tickets for a 3 day period and have a little extra spending money to use in the park while we were there. It doesn’t have to be a specific retailer card, you can purchase a reloadable Visa card and budget for it each pay period.
Teaching kids to save
Who says saving for vacation is the adults job? Our 6 year old son has a money box that he keeps for his spending money to use while on vacation. He never gets paid for doing his normal chores (cleaning his room, making his bed, putting his clothes away etc) but when he goes above and beyond to help out around the house he makes a few extra dollars. He puts that money away and saves it so he can buy what he wants while on vacation. Mommy and daddy take care of all the food and major expenses but it helps him to decide if a toy, a shirt featuring our destination or that snow cone is worth his hard earned money.
I like to use search engines for general inquiries about local coupons. I will type in things like Valpak coupons and the zip code of our destination. You’d be surprised at how many offers and discounts there are. If there is a particular restaurant or experience we want to go to I will type in the name of it along with coupons in the search box to find any current discounts that may be out.
Credit card points
There are so many amazing reward based credit cards out there nowadays. Not only can your rewards help pay for travel purchases but just being a cardholder of certain cards will get you into airport lounges, give you free upgrades at hotels and much more. Before you apply for a card do a general search as to which card is best for travel perks and make sure you read thoroughly everything included with your card when you get approved.
It’s time to admit it, I’m one of those crazy coupon ladies. I have an entire binder divided with tabs labeled for each section of the store with hundreds of grocery coupons organized in it. I love to coupon! I’ve had times where I’ve gotten $170 worth of groceries for $62!! Now, that’s not every week. Some weeks I save $11 some weeks I save $100. Budget a certain amount of dollars each week for groceries and whatever you save in coupons put into a “travel” envelope in a drawer somewhere. The money was already budgeted for anyway so you won’t even miss it.
One of my favorite sites is Swagbucks. You search it just like you would Google but you get rewarded for it. They also offer the opportunity to take surveys for extra Swag bucks and even print coupons you can earn bucks on once you use them at the store. You can cash your bucks in for real cash with Paypal or pick up some gift cards for places like Expedia.
A separate savings account
It’s all too easy to transfer money over from savings to checking, especially when the accounts are at the same bank. Go to a different bank, or better yet a credit union and open a separate savings account (be sure it’s a savings account so you can gain some interest). Transfer some money over every pay check and watch the savings grow. Before you know it you’ll be sitting on a beach somewhere, drink in hand and blue ocean as far as you can see.
Travel in the off season
My family rarely travels during busy and high traffic seasons. In fact, I plan our vacations around off season travel. The discounts are deep, the crowds are few and coupons come out of hiding. I never see more coupons for businesses than in the off seasons of travel. Take advantage of those savings!
Cut back on the luxuries in life
Lets face it, do we really need satellite? With options like Netflix and Hulu it’s not really necessary anymore. Do we really need to go out to eat as often as we do? There are so many great quick and easy clean up recipes out there on the internet we can simply make at home and save that extra money. Have a movie night in instead of going out (the popcorn is better anyway).
Sell it all
You knew this one was coming. Have a garage sale and get rid of all that junk. You can set up in front of your house, sell on ebay, Facebook groups or Craigslist. Look into different consignment options. We have an amazing consignment program where I live where twice a year we sell all of our kids old things. Kid clothes, baby gear and furniture all go up for sale for one big consignment weekend. I make 70% profit off of every item sold. One event I made over $300 in 3 days. Look around your local area to see if there are any consignment events you can join in on.
Tax refund vacation
Sometimes tax refunds are so big it can pay for a trip somewhere. A few thousand goes a long way in Mexico or larger cities around the U.S. I’ve adjusted our W4 to take out the maximum taxes possible every pay period. It’s less every pay but we get one big check at tax time. It’s almost like good ole’ Uncle Sam is guarding a savings account for us.
Make your dream trip a reality by sacrificing a little now for fun later. Wouldn’t you rather be dining out at your dream destination anyway than at the pizza shop down the street?