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5 Ways to Stretch Your Vacation Budget

You comparison-shopped airfare, booked the best hotel rates and found a great deal on a rental car. All that planning ahead is sure to save you money on your vacation. But what about when you reach your destination? It can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and spend freely (you’re on vacation, after all). But it can leave you short on cash partway through your trip and have you reaching for the credit cards, followed by months of debt when you return to real life. These tips will help you have a terrific time while still keeping an eye on your budget.  

Pack Smart — You don’t want to over-pack, but you don’t want to forget the essentials, either. Having to spend vacation money on a phone charger, headphones, first aid supplies—or whatever essential you leave behind — isn’t fun, and you’ll end up paying more than you normally would on the same item at home. Write down a list and check it off as you’re packing so you have everything you need.

Stop at the Store — When you reach your destination, find the nearest grocery store and stock up on bottled water, fresh fruit and snacks to keep in your room and take with you on your adventures. It will keep you from raiding the mini bar or buying overpriced treats in the hotel gift shop and when you’re out and about.

Hit the Streets — Not every meal has to be a sit-down event. Food trucks and street vendors often have some of the best local cuisine for less than you’d pay in a restaurant. Do some research ahead of time to find out what’s getting all the buzz or ask friendly locals which food trucks or vendors they never miss.

Skip the Souvenirs — Do you really need more stuff? Rather than spending money on souvenirs that will eventually collect dust or be given away, spend the money on experiences, instead. Be sure to take plenty of photos so you can relive your adventures when you return home. You’ll never regret making a memory, but you will regret wasting vacation cash on that giant sombrero that won’t fit into your carry-on.

Find the Freebies — When you’re booking your hotel, look for one that offers in-room coffee and free continental breakfast. Simply saving on that one meal each day will leave you with funds left for other things. Many hotels also leave out bowls of fresh fruit or display trays of freshly baked cookies throughout the day. While you’re out and about, look for places that offer free samples, and find out about free local events such as outdoor festivals, concerts or historical sites.

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