Save money on a hotel by not staying in one
Not staying with family? Lots of people are travelling this time of year, so it's an ideal time for a houseswap or to housesit. Homeswap agencies and Craigslist are typical was to find a homeswap, but don't be afraid to work your own network if you know someone in the city you'll be visiting.
Dine out less (and make your meals out count)
Bring your own food to the airport. (avoid liquids, dressings, apple sauce, etc) You'll save time, eat better, and avoid one more line.
Once at your destination, enjoy picnic lunches and simple breakfasts. While exploring restaurants is and should be an enjoyable part of any vacation, resist the temptation to eat three meals a day in a restaurant. Instead, eat breakfast in your room, pack some picnic lunches, etc. and save those dining dollars for truly memorable dining experiences.
Bringing a refillable water bottle and snacks with you each day alone can save quite a bit of money. If you have kids in tow, you'll always be sure that you have something good for them to eat when they need it.
Planning to visit one or two world-class expensive restaurants? Try lunch instead of dinner. Prices are lower, and because lunch is more casual than dinner, you can often avoid bringing a single-use formal outfit.
- Don't break the bank on travel toys
Parents can be so desperate for the kids to behave on the flight that they buy lots of expensive toys and games hoping to keep everyone content. One or two is ok, but there's no need for more than that. Bring books, music, activity books and simple crafts or check out our helpful tips for Entertaining Your Child on a Plane and packing Travel Toys You Already Have at Home
- Bring Less
The less you bring, the less you'll spend on baggage to carry it all in, and you won't risk over-weight fees or extra baggage fees. Especially for children… rent or borrow what you need at your destination (or better yet, figure out how to do without). If you're headed to visit family, consider buying inexpensive gear to keep there, it might be cheaper and easier over the long haul. For example, some car seat carriers cost just as much as a second car seat to be kept at grandma's house, and no rental is as expensive as a trip to the chiropractor after your return home…
- Re-negotiate your rates
Rental car prices often go down as dates get closer, and few car agencies have cancellation fees. Now is a great time to search the rates again for substantial savings. Hotels sometimes offer last minute specials, and most allow changes up to 24 hours before scheduled arrival.
- Luxury Hotels Aren't Always Easier and They're Never Cheaper
Sometimes it's easier to stay in a a self catering apartment than in a luxury hotel. You'll have the ability to do your own laundry (which saves money), your own kitchen, and a bit more space. An apartment rental really starts to save money vs. a hotel when you need two or more rooms. Many rental apartments are used primarily by long-term business travelers, making them even more affordable during November and December when business travel is light. To save even more, you can avoid rental agency fees by renting on Craigslist or VRBO.
- Take Public Transit
If you're visiting a city, stay on major transit lines & plan to take public transit around town. With no rental car you'll have no car seats to rent or lug around and no parking expenses. You might be surprised at how much easier your vacation is without the need to navigate down one way streets, find parking, and locate your car again at the end of the day.
- Buy useful souvenirs (or none at all)
You'll probably be tired of that Sagrada Familia snow globe in a few years anyway. Instead, consider buying something that is needed and will get daily use in your home for example, a new tablecloth in France or modern and cool kitchen gear in Italy.
- Look for online coupons to attractions and restaurants
For those who plan ahead (even the night before) there are often a variety of discounts to be had. Amusement parks have multi-day passes. Cities often combine popular attractions into city passes, and you can often find online coupons for attractions and restaurants. Check the websites for the attractions you are visiting for details or use google to search for coupons online. Discounted tickets and coupons can also be found on Ebay (but make sure that you understand the transferability and expiration dates of the tickets). Once you've arrived, you can also ask your hotel for discount coupons or ask about auto club discounts at the ticket booth. Buying discounted tickets ahead of time not only saves you money, but you can often skip the lines as well.
- Give each child a set amount to spend
This will not only save you money, but it will also save you time and energy negotiating at each attraction about which "treats" can come home with you. Depending on the age of your kids, you can set a daily budget, or a budget for the entire trip.
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