5 Budget Vacations Hacks You Need To Know

by Connie Mei · 11 comments

traveling
Summer isn’t that far away. One thing we have to look forward to is the yearly summer vacation. White sandy beaches and tropical weather sounds like a dream and to many, it might just be. The average cost of vacation for a family of four is $4,000. That’s a large sum to spend on a trip and not everyone can afford the expense.

Vacations seem to get more lavish every year, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg just to have a nice family vacation. It’s entirely possible to vacation on a budget and still have an amazing time. Here are 5 vacations hacks you need to know for your next trip:

Save Up Those Credit Card Points

The most famous (and probably infamous) way to save on vacation is through credit card rewards. Almost every single credit card these days are promoting extensive rewards programs with a large sign on bonus. Look for cards that are especially geared toward travel. For example, the Chase Sapphire will give you double the points on dining and travel and you get 40,000 bonus points if you spend a certain amount within the first 3 months. Carefully spending your credit card rewards can get you a cheaper or even free flight.

Stay Closer to Home

The more your flight will cost you the farther you travel, especially if you go international. Consider staying closer to home instead of going to a far-off destination. Find a vacation spot nearby that you’ve never explored before. You might even be able to drive and forget about flight costs altogether.

Rent a AirBnB

Aside from your flight, the cost of a hotel is one of your biggest expenses. Apart from the room itself, you may see additional fees such as resort fees and parking fees. On top of that, dining within the hotel isn’t budget friendly. Instead of opting for a hotel, rent a AirBnB instead. These accommodations are much more affordable and come with just as many amenities. You’ll also be able to buy and cook your own meals, which will save you a ton of money on food.

Share Your Trip with Family & Friends

Why not make it a big family affair if you’re going on a vacation? Sharing your trip with family and friends is not only a great way to spend time with loved ones but also a great opportunity to cut down on costs. You can split many expenses such as hotel and transportation, which will make your trip much more affordable.

Get Your Company to Pay

Consider turning your business trip into a vacation next time you have a travel assignment as well. Ask your company if you can add a few extra vacation days at the beginning or end of your trip. This way, you’ll save on flights and only have to pay for hotel on those extra days.

What is your favorite vacation hack? Tell us about your next trip in the comments below!

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  • Laurie says:

    My husband and I have been saving some money with travel at this time by just exploring the state we currently live in. We can just drive to wherever we would like to go, and we both haven’t experienced much of the state and there is a lot to do. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  • I suggest to use sites like Couchsurfing, hospitality Club or workaway to rent a room or place just to pay less or nothing for accommodation ;). In my opinion it is a good way to meet interesting people, which can advice you also what to visit.

  • Cathy says:

    David, First, I love your blog. It is very, very helpful and insightful!
    Regarding using credit card points, I have 3 credit cards that I use all the time: 1 is for grocery stores; 1 is an Amazon Rewards card that I use for clothing, household stuff and 1 is all other items. I try to pay off my cards at the end of each month and I do fairly well with the points that I get from them. I usually earn about $250 a year on the Amazon Rewards card that I use for gifts and household merchandise. The other two combined equal about $500. a year that I plan to use toward our yearly vacation in Yellowstone area. We camp and stay in motels with kitchenettes. We splurge on my Birthday and go to a Gourmet Restaurant on the Madison River outside the Park.

    • David Ning says:

      Nicely done Cathy, and thank you for the words of encouragement!

      It sounds like you are making good use of your credit card rewards, so cheers to that and keep it up! 🙂

  • Joe Serviss says:

    Hey. I have been reading your blog for a while and appreciate your view on money. I am a blog writer as well, not nearly as successful as you and wanted to comment on this post you made. First vacationing is so important for families, mental health, culture, and family values. Tips like staying close to home and sharing the trip are awesome hacks but I have to say I was surprised to see you promote credit card rewards. I am anti-credit and anti-debt and that is pretty much what I write about in my blog. I believe that credit card rewards points are a joke. I have a credit card. A Discover card in which I have spend $10,000 and paid $10,000 and earned like $30.00 in rewards. It is awful how much in interest I had to assume in order to receive such a menial reward. Put your money away, save some, make your own vacation fund, pay cash and save that money you would pay in interest for your vacation. If you can’t but it with cash maybe you should hold off on buying it. Just might make that trip to the lake a whole lot better. Thanks again. Have a great day!

    • David Ning says:

      Thanks for chiming in Joe. You are right that nothing is worth paying interests for, but some people can benefit if they already have the cash saved up and is merely using plastic to pay for it before they pay the balance off before interests are incurred.

      Nowadays you should at least get 1% reward for any type of purchases (and there are plenty of cards that have more) so if you are really getting just $30 and you are in the states, then you should look for another card.

      • EarnSmart says:

        Hi Joe,

        David is absolutely right that you should be getting more than $30 in rewards. The one item I would add is that so long as your able to pay off your balance each month, you won’t have to pay any interest. You absolutely do not have to carry a balance to get those rewards!

        This means, that as long as you’re staying current with your payments, you don’t have to pay an extra dime to the credit card company and you get your rewards for “free”!

  • We definitely love using credit card rewards for travel. We also save a lot by camping or renting a house with friends. You can get most of the basic camping equipment you need for about two nights’ hotel cost, and that could last you for vacations for a decade!

    • David Ning says:

      Camping is a great idea. Cost effective, healthy, and fun all at the same time. Best of all, you actually spend quite a bit of time with your family and that will pay dividends for years to come.

  • Amy says:

    We love our Amex rewards card. We pay our bill off every month. December we cashed out $1,550. We do this ever Dec to assist with our holiday splurging.

    • David Ning says:

      Nice!!

      $1,550 is quite a bit in rewards a year. And plus, it’s tax free so the money is a really good windfall for most people as long as they pay their balances off each month.

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