5 Ways to Vacation Without Breaking the Bank

by Ryan Guina

My wife and I recently took our first cruise, and thankfully we were well prepared for it. We did a lot of research, and we got some great advice from her parents who have gone on several cruises.

Based on our recent experiences, there are 5 things people can do to spend less money, have less stress, and ultimately enjoy their vacation more:

Plan your vacation

The most important thing one can do before going on vacation is to make a plan. Knowing where you will go and what you will do will make your vacation more enjoyable and easier to prepare for. A plan also allows you to start saving money in advance and spend less money in the end.


Make a budget, then add 10% just in case! 😉 Seriously, no matter how well you plan your vacation, something unexpected will come up. Make a budget and stick to it, but be prepared to have a little extra money just in case!

Search for deals

Deals can always be found for just about every kind of vacation. Great deals can be found through a travel agent, on-line travel companies such as Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, or through the actual company providing the service. Sometimes package deals are the best, but other times they are not. For example, my wife and I saved almost $1,000 by booking our own airfare for our cruise instead of booking our airfare through the cruise company.

Be prepared

Preparation can include proper clothing, foreign currency, traveler’s checks, a raincoat, food, maps, etc. If you are traveling in the spring or fall months, or to multiple locations, be prepared for different weather situations. Also, make sure you have proper documentation, you bring your medications, your insurance will cover you overseas, you have plenty of film, you can charge your electronic items if necessary, and you are prepared for anything else that will affect your health, well-being, and vacation enjoyment. Being prepared also saves you from having to buy items at the last minute – often at a huge mark-up.

Skip the tourist locations for shopping

Here’s a universal truth: vendors in tourist locations charge 2-5 times more than you would pay at a local store. Sometimes it is even more. If you can find a local grocery store, department store, or restaurant outside of the normal tourist areas, you will save a lot of money. Vacations are expensive enough as it is. You can save more than a few dollars by purchasing items off the beaten path.

A little planning can go a long way toward helping you enjoy your vacation. Remember – vacations are about enjoyment and leaving stress behind. A little work up front can save you a lot of stress and money at a time when stress is the last thing you want to have on your mind, and money is at a premium. Use these tips, and enjoy your vacation!

Photo Source: Mac Pale via stock.xchng.

Published or updated January 3, 2009.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark McGuire

That is absolutely true about every single point you make. I used to work in the tourismn industry for several years, on a cruise ship, and at a ski resort.

It never fails to amaze me how “unconscious” people spend at tourist destinations. In fact, yesterday I was up in Salem, MA checking out The House of Seven Gables and we bought a post card for 75 cents there and found a store 2 blocks away with the same post card for 25 cents.

Planning is something I do a lot, I never thought of padding as a percentage. I always just say “oh, let’s try $250 or $500” for fun money. Padding makes a lot of sense, especially if you want to return.


2 Ryan

I agree Mark. When some people go on vacation they spend because they expect themselves to spend, and they sort it out later. If they charge it, they sometimes end up paying for it for months!

Planning is the most important part in my opinion. My wife and I literally saved thousands with a little research and planning.


3 Carin

Check your employee benefits package – most have some form of travel insurance included. Even if this isn’t sufficient coverage, you can purchase “top up” insurance. Alot of people are unaware of this, and end up buying travel insurance when they have existing coverage.


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