How to Take a Budget-Friendly Vacation

Vacations don't have to be expensive to be fun. Here's how you can take a budget-friendly vacation and save hundreds in the process.Have you planned your summer vacation yet? Whether you’re taking a family vacation to a popular city or are roughing it at your favorite camp site, here are 6 money saving tips to help you have a budget-friendly vacation.

Book a Hotel with the Right Amenities

The right hotel can be the key to your vacation savings. Choose a hotel that includes free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, and at least a fridge. If you can find an affordable hotel with a kitchenette, even better.

This allows you to save money on dining out costs, since you can buy food at a grocery store instead.

Search for Coupons Before You Go

Search local Groupon and Living Social deals for the area you plan on visiting. Try searching several weeks in advanced for the best variety of deals.

You can also visit local websites of the city you’ll be vacationing in to find deals on nearby attractions and restaurants. Some touristy areas have coupon books you can get while you’re there, too.

Look for Deals that are Grouped Together

Popular cities often group together several different attractions for a discounted price, or have time shares available on deal sites like For example, the California CityPass groups together passes to Disneyland, SeaWorld, and Universal Studios for one discounted price.

Buy Discounted Gift Cards

Save money on everything from your hotel to your flight by using a gift card. The money savings comes from buying a discounted gift card on Gift Card Granny or eBay.

As I write this, there’s a $500 Hyatt gift card for $455, saving you $45. There’s also a $100 American Airlines eCode for $94.98, saving you $5.02. If you paid your whole trip with discounted gift cards, you could easily save several hundred dollars.

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Use a Credit Card for the Perks

Many finance experts will say that cash is king, but when it comes to traveling, a credit card is the smarter way to go. Using a credit card to pay for your vacation and to pay for purchases during your trip protects you from a wide range of things.

Many credit cards have better protection from fraudulent charges than debit cards. Also, credit cards can come with rental car insurance and even lost baggage replacement.

Use a Sign Up Bonus from a New Credit Card

If you need a new credit card, have excellent credit, and use credit wisely, then you can benefit from the sign up bonuses that some credit cards offer.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 40,000 bonus points, which is $500 of travel, if you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. This is simple to do if you just pay all of your normal bills with the card.

Other cards also offer a free night stay or free flight upon meeting their spending requirements. Get the credit card several months before your trip so that you can use your bonuses to help pay for your vacation.

Avoid Tourists Traps

Enjoy the attractions you want to see in certain cities, but avoid eating or shopping in the same area. Many times, stores and restaurants are more expensive the closer they are to big attractions. Instead, venture 1o-15 minutes out of the city to enjoy the same local favorites at a much better price.

Vacations don’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Share with us where you are going this summer and how you save money on your travel plans.