14 Ways to Save on Summer Vacation

Everyone wants to take a summer vacation, but of course it’s easier said than done. Here are a few ways to help you save money for, and on, your summer vacation.


Save money for vacation.

Save your change. Yes, your change. I cashed in my changed in November and it was over $250. That was after collecting change (and spare bills) for just two months. Not everyone has that much money in change every month, but it will add up quickly if you collect your change and spare bills. Have everyone pitch in.

Cut out the Netflix. And Blockbuster, and any other movie place. Cut movies out for a few months (other than the occasional Redbox, maybe) and you can save $50 or more. Sure, $50 doesn’t sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but that’s food for a day (or a meal, depending on your spending habits while on vacation).

Recycle. I never realized how much money you could make by recycling aluminum cans (glass bottles, etc). We live next to a scrap yard, and it is packed every single day with people cashing their cans in for $$$. If you drink soda on a regular basis, this one could be a gold mine for you.

Pack a lunch. Do you ever eat out? Stop for a few months and you’ll be amazed at how much you can save. If your family of four usually goes out to eat once a week, you could save $100 or more each month!

Sell your stuff. You don’t have to sell your XBox or anything that you actually use, but you know that treadmill that’s in the basement collecting dust? Someone would pay $100 for it, so why not dig it out and sell it? Those paintings you were going to hang up, but just don’t have any place to hang? They’ve been in the closet for 3 years, just let them go. That’s another $50 (or more!).


Save money on vacation.

Book in advance. Last time I took a vacation to Chicago, I got a hotel room for $80 for booking more than 30 days before my arrival date. If I had waited until a week or two before, at the same hotel, it would have been $150. Also, check sites like Priceline.come to see if you can get better deals than if you would when booking through the hotel.

Be flexible. If you can’t book waaay in advance, at least be flexible on the dates you choose for your vacation. This could be a difference of $100 on plane tickets, or $50 on a night in a hotel.

Take a train. To fly to Chicago from St. Louis, round trip, it’s $200-$500 per person. To take a train, it’s $24 for kids and $72 for adults. If the train would take days (like St. Louis to San Diego), consider taking a trip in the off-season, or doing a staycation this year and a vacation next year.

Stay with friends. Or family, if you can handle it. 🙂 If you know someone that lives local to the area you’re going to vacation in, see if they wouldn’t mind you shacking up at their place for a day or two. This could save you lots of money.

Pack a lunch. Even if you just pack your lunch for the trip on the train, you’re going to save a lot of money. But if you arrive at your destination and grab some food from the local grocery store (in Chicago there is one right by the train station. Same with St. Louis.), and pack it on up to your hotel. Even if you only replace a few meals, you could easily save over $100. Even if you don’t pack a lunch, pack snacks and drinks and save big!

Find a park, or something else that’s free! When we visited Chicago this year, we found a lot of things to do for free. We checked out The Bean, of course, and though we spent money on a trolley pass, it took us to many places we could go for free and that saved us a lot of money. If you have a large family, see if you can get a group rate on trolley or tour passes.

Rent an economy car. If you are going some place where the traffic isn’t too crazy, renting an economy car may save you time and money. On our Chicago trip, we just walked or took the cab or trolley, but when we visited San Diego, we rented an economy car for under $25 a day.

Take advantage of discounts. Are you a member of AAA or part of a union? You may be eligible for additional discounts through work or even through your child’s school.

Skip the souvenirs. Your kids don’t really need a $20 snow globe, and you really don’t need a $13 key chain that says “New York”. You can usually find cheaper trinkets at little corner shops than at the airport, train station, etc. I got a Chicago t-shirt for $5 at Walgreen’s when I was visiting.

Remember, vacation is all about having fun and creating memories. You don’t have to go to Disney World to do that. Also, when it’s peak season in one area, it’s the off season in another. Do some research, save your pennies, and you’ll be vacationing before you know it.

P.S. Don’t forget the camera and sunscreen!


  1. You’re so right on booking in advance. When I flew out to Anaheim, the prices of the hotel rooms where I stayed SKYROCKETED by the time we actually checked in. By booking 3 months ahead, we paid almost half price.

  2. Great ideas! It is amazing how much change can add up.

  3. We’re going to the beach next month and I booked in advance for the hotel that we will be staying in and got the room 30% off. We are also going to book an economy car to drive there as well. I think I would have been saving change for at least gas money, but we don’t use cash often. These are some great tips though.

  4. I haven’t been on vacation since I was a kid. I can’t wait to be more financially stable and actually get to take the kids on a real vacation!

  5. Booking in advance is an amazing way to save. I bought my plane ticket to NYC months ago. If I purchased a ticket on that same flight today, it would cost more than double what I paid.

    Another thing that’s helped me is finding coupons online. Look at the websites of the places that you want to visit. A lot of times, they will have printable coupons, you just have to take the time to look.

  6. We always go to the convenience or drug store once we arrive (always a Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid around)… buy a styrofoam cooler and some soda and water — we fill it with the cooler with hotels ice machine and then just drain and refill as needed. It saves a ton of money.

    Great Hints.

  7. Thank you for the tips. This is a very nice article. I will surely do this tips.

  8. There are several options available for a summer trip on a budget. Vacations allow you to get away, recharge and spend quality time with your family and friends. An economical trip is possible, whether you like the great outdoors, historical sites, or sandy beaches..

  9. These are some GREAT tips! We always talk about going on vacation but just never seem to have the money. I’m going to give some of these a try!

  10. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  11. After a year of waitressing, while pregnant, I managed to save ALL of my change. (Literally any change I had at the end of my shifts). It all went into a savings account for my dd. I had close to $500 saved. (It wasn’t much, but better than nothing).

  12. Great ideas. I always use my AAA discount. I feel like an old person but hey that’s why i pay the monthly fees for it, right?

  13. Great tips. We love to travel and always have to plan strategically to make sure we can afford it. Another great tip is to look for coupons for local area attractions. A lot of museums and other attractions offer coupons/discounts on their websites.

  14. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  15. These are fantastic tips! I really want to go on vacation before the workaholic starts his new job but he won’t let me because he wants to go with me…but won’t go with me. Stupid. I’m looking for someone to take a vacation with. You wanna join? 🙂

  16. Awesome tips!!

    I’ve never traveled much – we were too poor to ever go on vacations when I was growing up, and I’ve never had the extra cash for vacations much as an adult either. BUT – with the blog travel, and now that Abby is big enough to really enjoy discovering new places, I’m excited to start doing fun trips. These tips help a TON!

Speak Your Mind