16 Sneaky Ways to Save Money on Vacation

Maybe it’s because it has been back to back snow days and frigid temperatures here in Minnesota, but I am dreaming of vacation big time. Over the last few years, as we have worked to pay off our debt and save more money, I have become a lot savvier when it comes to finding sneaky ways to save money on vacation. Here are some of the best tips I have found that have totally worked for me and my family.

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Book through rebate sites

I always, always, always check my favorite rebate sites before booking airfare or hotels! Often times these sites have great rebates and/or discounts that can save you a few bucks on your trip!

Here are my favorite go-tos:

  • Dosh – When booking through Dosh for the first time, you receive an instant discount on your hotel stay, plus you get $5 just for signing up for the app itself. Get the Dosh app.
  • Ebates – Ebates is awesome because you can book flights, hotels and rental cars all in one place and get a rebate back! (Usually around 10%!) Checkout Ebates rebates.
  • Groupon – Groupon is another great place to find bundled getaways. Under the “Getaways” tab Groupon will show you a huge variety of local and not local vacation packages that you can take advantage of. Make sure to read the fine print as often times packages that include a flight are limited to certain cities. Browse Groupon.

Cook at “home” by booking an Airbnb

Eating out at restaurants is probably the easiest way to go over budget when on vacation. One of best ways to save on vacation is to avoid this added expense and book a place with a kitchen!

Whenever we are planning an overnight stay somewhere, I always check the Airbnb prices compared to local hotels.

Often times you can find an Airbnb for with a full kitchen for close to the same cost of a hotel. Don’t get me wrong, you can pack a lot of meals into a hotel mini-fridge, but having a full kitchen really opens up your food options and can save you a ton of money by eating in!

Get a $40 credit on your Airbnb

Negotiate last-minute prices on Airbnb

If you are brave enough to venture out on a last-minute trip, you might be in luck. Not only do hotels often drop their prices at the last minute but Airbnb hosts have this option as well.

Even if you do not see a lower price, you can always message an Airbnb host directly and respectfully ask if they’d be willing to lower their rate for your last minute booking. Considering that they were planning on not making any money at all, this might be an offer they are willing to consider.

Ever wondered if you could make money with an Airbnb? See the Airbnb calculator and find out how much you could be earning.

Travel during off seasons

I swear I didn’t plan to have my anniversary in June just so we could save big time on vacation, but I’m sure glad it worked out this way.

Checking the off-season of your desired travel location is always a smart way to save extra money.

In some cases, this may mean your vacation is less than ideal. For example, if you dream of going to Vail for skiing, you probably don’t want to plan a trip there in summer.

However, if you are planning a trip to a tropical location, going during the off season is definitely worth considering. Tom and I have taken advantage of the discounted prices for both Riviera Maya, Mexico and Puerto Viarta, Dominican Republic during our June anniversary. The worst thing we ever experienced was a little light rain amidst otherwise sunny days. Definitely something we were able to tolerate considering the fact that we saved thousands of dollars.

Use a travel agent

Did you know you don’t pay a travel agent?

Maybe you knew that, but years ago, I had no idea! I never understood why anyone would pay a travel agent to book their trip. I was all about saving as much money as possible.

The truth is, travel agents earn a commission through resorts by referring you with no additional cost to you!

Whenever we book a vacation through our travel agent, I give her a few location ideas and our price range. This helps us stay on budget and takes a lot of the planning off my plate!

Visit people you know

Umm…what a concept, right? Often times people are dying to take a vacation but can’t flip the bill for flight and accommodations. one of the best ways to plan travel and save big time is to plan on visiting people you know that live in a different location than you do. I mean, you could stay at your niehgbor’s house, but I don’t think it will have the same effect.

Now, it definitely depends on how well you know this person. Don’t just go around asking Facebook acquaintances if you can crash on their couch. You don’t want to come across as a moocher.

Close friends and family, however, would probably love your company and might jump at the chance to show you around.

Consider all-inclusive savings

A lot of times people see the cost of an all-inclusive resort and think the price is way to steep.

Don’t be so quick to make this assumption.

Maybe you think booking the hotel for cheaper than the resort is the better way to go — but don’t forget the added cost of drinks, food, and even entertainment! Most of the time paying for a cheaper hotel is going to add up in price when it comes to these little add ons that would have otherwise been included in an all-inclusive.

Have flexible dates

One of my favorite pastimes is hanging out on Google Flights. When you have flexible date options, you can usually find a cheaper flight.

A first option is to select the “flexible dates” option on Google Flights and select how long you want to stay and what month(s) you’re looking for. When you do this, Google will check out all available flights and give you the best options first.

Another way to do this is by selecting dates and then clicking the “RESET” button. Doing this shows you all the prices for airfare each day so you can get an idea of which travel dates will give you the best discount.

Check flights from different sources

Now, even though I love Google Flights, I try not to enter my official dates until I am ready to book. Why?

Because Google now knows you want these dates and will often increase the price the next time you log on to book! If this happens, try checking the prices again from your phone, laptop, iPad or even from a friend’s device! More often than not, you will get a lower price from a different device.

Sign up for house-swapping

If you live in a highly sought after “touristy” town, you might want to consider signing up for house swapping on sites like Homeexchange.com. Just like the movie, The Holiday, you can swap houses with people from locations all around the world! All you do is pay for airfare!

Be flexible on where you travel to

You know what? When I have been on the hunt for crazy cheap airfare, I have discovered some pretty cool locations that I would have otherwise never considered traveling to! Like Boston or Chicago.

See the list of cheap places to fly for spring 2019

Eat out for cheap

When you do decide to eat out on vacation, make sure you are saving as much as you can.

Groupon always has great deals on local places or you can check Restaurant.com. With Restaurant.com you can get major discounts on gift cards to local places to eat. We do this for our own local restaurants but the site can be extra helpful when you are trying to save money on vacation.

Get $25 gift cards for $10

Pack wisely

If you are flying, it’s time to start packing Marie Kondo style so you can fit all your belongings into your carry on!

With most airlines, you are allowed a single carry on as well as one additional bag. If you can fit all of your goodies into these 2 bags you can save yourself a ton on the cost of having to check a bag!

Rent a car for cheap or take an Uber

Depending on how far you are from the airport or how much driving you plan on doing, it’s a good idea to compare the prices of renting a car or taking an Uber.

Maybe an Uber to and from the airport is really all the travel you require for a week-long stay. If so, depending on how far the drive is, an Uber is probably your best way to save money.

If you think a car would be a more practical option, try Car Rental Booking Buddy. Car rentals start at just $8! When you want to save money on vacation but have a lot of site seeing you want to do, often times opting for a rental car is going to be less expensive then relying on other means of transportation.

Research free local activities

This girl is all about free! Even when I dream of planning a trip to New York, most of the things I really want to do are the ones that are totally free! Like exploring Time Square, walking in Central Park, seeing the Friends building and eating a pastry (very cliche) outside of Tiffany’s & Co.

I am a big believer in exploring as much as you can for free no matter where you are traveling to.

Checkout some of my favorite free or on-budget places:

Travel in a pack

If you have a group of friends or family that you don’t need a vacation from, you might want to consider taking them on vacation!

You could save a ton when booking together and splitting the cost of an Airbnb and could also split the cost of food and/or driving expenses.

See if you qualify for a comped stay

This right here is my favorite perk of blogging. Often times bloggers or other influencers are able to get comped stays at different resorts or hotels in exchange for sharing their experience with their readers.

If you have ever wanted to start blogging, you can get my course right now for only $75. I will teach you everything you need to start making money with a blog — snag it now before the course gets a full makeover (and a price bump) June 1!

If you already have a blog, vlog, or a large social media following, do a little research to see how you might be able to get a comped stay just for sharing your experience and some photos!

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There are so many sneaky ways to save money on vacation that you might not know about! Number 17 is by far my favorite way to travel on a budget!


  1. Ant @ StudentSavings | 1st Apr 19

    Don’t forget about frequent flyer programs – I’ve found that I’m able to earn FF points for doing things that I was already doing. Over time they really add up and i’ve been able to book hotel rooms and flights for free.

    • Renee | 1st Apr 19

      I have heard so many great things about those!!! I’ve always been nervous trusting myself with a credit card but am hoping I’ll get to the point where I can use the cards and then pay them off right away.

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