Avoiding Budget-Busting Vacation Extras

Three ways to save on travel expenses once you’ve reached your final destination.

You’ve spent hours researching a summer vacation destination and lodging that’s the right mix of enjoyment and budget-consciousness. But daily travel expenses like dining, transportation and entertainment can quickly send your vacation budget on a downward spiral.

How can you enjoy a vacation where the memories last longer than the credit card bills? Consider these three themes for staying on a budget once you’ve reached your final destination.

1. Eat Smart

While vacation may be a time when you allow yourself to cheat on your diet, you don’t have to also sacrifice your budget.

  • Limit fine dining: Instead of visiting a restaurant for three meals a day, consider buying snacks to eat as you tour or purchasing food from a lower cost source like a local vendor. Packing a picnic lunch also can save on food service costs and allow you to enjoy a scenic spot on the beach or at the park.
  • Rent with Kitchen Access: If you’re still booking lodging, consider a house rental or room-share with kitchen access. Preparing food for the day, or eating even one meal in can be a big cost savings on a family trip.
map with vacation items

2. Travel like a Local

  • Use Public Transport: Transit costs between tourist destinations can add up fast – especially if you’re using taxis or private shuttles. Instead, consider public transportation, where it’s often possible to purchase transit cards for unlimited rides in day or weekend increments at a fraction of the cost of private transportation.
  • Be a Walker: When possible, walk to your destination. In addition to cost-savings, walking allows you to discover attractions or local hangouts that may not be on the tourist maps. Many cities also have free or low-cost walking tours where tourists can explore with the help of a guide.
  • Scout your Route: If driving is your only option, scout out your route beforehand to determine potential fuel stops or if you’ll need to account for tolls.

3. Be a Tourist  

While discovering a city on your own can be an adventurous and cost-effective way to vacation, there are also ways to save on organized exploring:

  • Book a Tour: Group tours can be a great way to see popular sites at a group discount rate. Organized tours can be more time-efficient because they often take precedence for admission to popular sites. Of course, a professional tour guide also adds to the experience.
  • Visit the Tourist Center: Tourist information centers are not only good spots for directions, they can be cost saving centers as well. Often, tourist centers offer discounted tour prices or entertainment books offering discounts at local restaurants or sites.
  • Consult Tourist Websites: Websites like TripAdvisor or RoadsideAmerica.com offer reviews on free or low-cost attractions, restaurants and lodging.

Summer vacation is a reward you’ve worked all year to enjoy. By being mindful of excess spending on travel extras, budget-busting debt doesn’t need to make the trip home.

There are so many ways to live within your budget while on vacation. Many of these ideas will also enable you to see a side of the destination that you might not have considered if you weren’t watching your wallet.

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