Would You Let Coupons Dictate Your Vacation Plans?

by Jessica Sommerfield · 14 comments

I’m going on vacation next week. While we’re not planning to venture far from home (it’s more of  a staycation), there are a few things I’d like to do. One of the activities revolves around some gift cards I received back in January. The gift cards are for a restaurant/winery located a few hours away from here, so I haven’t had a chance to use them.

I decided our vacation was the perfect time to make a special trip. Vacations provide a good opportunity to fit in those moments of planned spontaneity — when you have a general idea of what you want to do, but don’t feel the need to pin down exactly when and how you’re going to do it. This got me thinking…

What if you let coupons, discounts, and deals decide what you’re going to do on vacation

A Compromise Between Frugality and Fun

One of the problems with being spontaneous is that it will often cost you more money. The absence of planning also means you don’t research which restaurants, hotels, marketplaces, venues, and activities are the best deal. After all, that would take away the spontaneity (and fun), wouldn’t it?

If you’re like me, you probably have a handful of gift cards, certificates, coupons, and other freebies that you wouldn’t otherwise take advantage of. Why not add some spontaneity to your otherwise predictable vacation plans by deciding to let whatever coupons and gift cards you have (perhaps even at random) dictate where you go, when you go, and what you do?

The Couponer’s Vacation

Many people already utilize this approach with their grocery shopping (referred to as couponing). They only buy items that are on sale or for which they have coupons, in order to maximize their savings. Whatever’s on sale is what’s for dinner. Shopping this way can certainly save you money, while still allowing for some freedom of choice.

There is, of course, the potential for a “couponing vacation” to be a tremendous failure. Your coupons might not match well with your interests and tastes, and the element of spontaneity may cause some scheduling problems. But you’ll never know until you try it. Even if a coupon-based vacation ends up going south, you’ll at least have experiences to share with your loved ones, and some laughs along the way (not to mention, you won’t be out much money).

Even the most planned vacations can go wrong in a matter of moments, so in the end, it’s not so much about the “perfect vacation” — it’s what you make out of each situation and place you find yourself.

I think I might just give this concept a try on our upcoming vacation. Perhaps I’ll become inspired about ways to make it even better, or perhaps I’ll just learn some lessons about what coupons and discounts not to use in the future. Either way, I plan to save some money, be a little spontaneous, and ultimately, have fun.

What do you think of this idea? Have you ever taken a “couponing vacation” before?

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dee @ Color Me Frugal May 30, 2014 at 7:36 am

I can’t say that I’ve ever taken a couponing vacation before, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it! Sounds like a great way to have some fun and save money!

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David Ning May 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Call me up when you go Dee, because we can probably get an event better discount when we reserve everything in bulk! :D

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RustyGee@Looking forward to retirement May 30, 2014 at 9:30 am

The last vacation we took was with my sister-in-law and we ended up couponing every night for dinner. Our plans were to go out for dinner every night as something to do and not spend the evenings in the room sitting mindlessly watching the tube. She brought from home the restaurant coupons that you get in the mail or newspapers to help save money as she is on a fixed income. I am all for saving money. The issue was that the coupons she brought are to the same restaurants we visit at home because my wife and I use coupons when we go out for dinner or lunch. So to some degree, while in Myrtle Beach, we did not visit either the local or the one of a kind seafood restaurants and ate at the national chairs. Luckily, when we did eat at a local restaurant, we went for the early bird specials to save money or used coupons that we found in the paper and the tourist magazines. So if you are going to do couponing with coupons from home, keep in mind that you might be eating at the same places on vacation that you eat at while at home and not be trying a new place for food.

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David Ning May 30, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Thanks for sharing Rusty. Have you tried Groupon? It might be a good way to try more local restaurants since you can get location specific deals in advance.

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Asset-Grinder May 30, 2014 at 4:16 pm

When i first became financial stable my current girlfriend at the time and I bought one of those entertainment coupon thick books. It was a great expererince as we done so many things with it we would have never thought of at a fraction of the price. Ever since then I like to travel on the cheap and will base my travel around deals!

Great article!

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David Ning May 30, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I believe the book you are referring to is the Entertainment Book. Do you still get it every year? We had one a few years ago and while we saved money, we only got a book for that one year.

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David Ning May 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm

A coupon vacation actually sounds like a fun adventure for someone who hates planning but loves to try new stuff :)

After all, you are just allowing what’s the best deal to dictate the itinerary!

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femmefrugality May 30, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I love this mindset! Spontaneous trips could end up being a did just as much as those coupon inspired “spontaneous” moments!

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David Ning May 31, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Sometimes the fun is the adventure itself! What’s so fun about following a popular guidebook and seeing all the local people when you are somewhere foreign? :)

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The Wallet Doctor June 1, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I’ve never done full blown vacation planning based on coupons. What I usually try to do is look up coupons related to the places I will be and grab any opportunities I can to utilize those coupons. I don’t like to force coupon use if there is something we really want to do, but if we are feeling relatively neutral, doing what is on those coupons is a good option.

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David Ning June 2, 2014 at 9:21 am

But it could be fun Doc! Next time you are on a vacation, try one activity because of coupons so you get to do something you will never do otherwise. The experience could spawn into a new lifelong hobby!

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Property Marbella June 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I usually give away coupons holidays in one or two days for my friends’ birthdays, but I always try to find the holiday destination that is within 1 – 1,5 hour drive. You can find lots of good offers on the internet and they are much appreciated the gifts.

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David Ning June 2, 2014 at 9:22 am

You are a good and generous friend Marbella. I can only imagine what kind of gifts you end up getting on your bday.

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Property Marbella June 5, 2014 at 1:20 am

Thanks, I gave away two tickets on Saturday to the zoo in our town to one that filled the years, he became very happy because he had never been there, it is where a much appreciated gift.

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