save-money-on-vacationTraveling can get expensive, especially if you’re visiting popular destinations during peak season. Here are some ideas to keep the costs down as you plan your next vacation.

Travel in the off-season Many destinations have their “peak seasons” so try to avoid those times. Lodging will likely be cheaper and there will be fewer crowds as well. And many locations boast some of the best weather in off-season. Find out when “shoulder season” is from a local vendor (hotel, spa, etc) and see about booking during that time. You get many of the benefits of high season, but often at a fraction of the price.

Fly in the middle of the week If you need to fly, then consider flying midweek, as most airlines offer discounted rates Tuesday and Wednesday.

Research flights and lodging on multiple sites The big guys like Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, and Priceline can save you bundles of dollars, but don’t stop at one.  These sites are called aggregators and they leverage deals through various channels, so don’t assume that flights or hotel will be the same price with each aggregator. Doing a little extra homework will be worth the effort

Try a “staycation” You will save on travel time, airfare, and the stress of planning a big trip.  Check out the activities and attractions that are popular in your area. You may be surprised how much there is to do in your own town and the many hidden gems waiting to be discovered!

Stay in a vacation rental You will save on lodging as well as dining expenses because you can eat some or most meals at home rather than dining out for every meal.  Plus you will enjoy more space and the creature comforts of a home.  So instead of watching the big football game in a crowded bar or cramped hotel room, why not kickback in a vacation rental and enjoy the game on a comfy couch in your spacious living room?

Live like a local Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path and ask locals where to explore. You will get a real taste for the culture and save money at the same time. Stay away from the big chains and tourist traps.  Ask locals their recommendations for the best restaurants, attractions, and lodging. Not only will you get the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, most times these experiences end up being the highlight of a trip.

Sign up for Deal-of-the-Day Websites Are the deal-of-the-day websites littering your inbox tempting you to unsubscribe because you can’t keep up?  Tweak your strategy a bit!  How about signing up for the cities you plan to visit?  Websites like Groupon, Living Social, and Mamapedia offer deeply discounted services, attractions, and dining that will surely help you keep dollars in your pocket while on the road.

Take Public Transportation We are regulars of car services like Uber and Lyft when we are in our hometown.  But when traveling, consider using public transportation.  Most major destinations have great options and are considerably cheaper than car services, taxis or rental cars.   And for the true urbanist, how about lacing up your tennis shoes or pedaling around town?  There is nothing better than exploring a city by foot or bicycle.   You really experience the beats of the city, and of course, it can’t hurt to burn of that decadent lava cake and wine from the night before.

Whether you are Warren Buffet or the guy next door, everyone deserves a little R&R.  But let’s face it, traveling expenses add up fast and with a little planning and flexibility, you can enjoy that dream vacation without breaking the bank.