If you’re willing to look beyond five-star restaurants and luxury hotels, there are all kinds of ways to save money when you travel. The key is to do your research. And, if there’s a contract to sign, make sure you read the fine print and know exactly what you are agreeing to.
Seven tips to save money on your trip
- Plan your trip around a place where you can stay with friends or family instead of in a hotel. Or, get together with a group of friends or family and split the cost of a vacation rental. Check out organizations like Vacation Rentals By Owner. Hotel charges can be one of the biggest costs of your whole vacation.
- Set up a house swap with a family in another city. Organizations like Intervac and HomeLink International charge a yearly membership fee of about $150, but then your accommodation is free. People often trade vehicles as well, which helps save money on a car rental.
- Many people’s favourite summer memories take place at a cottage. Now, with the wide variety of rental options on the market, more people than ever can experience the cottage life -- even for a week or weekend. There are last-minute deals, too. Some rental properties offer discount rates to fill vacancies. These discounts can add up to 20 per cent or more off the regular rate. Tip: A timeshare is another way to reduce the cost of your vacation. . How can a timeshare help me save money?
- Camping is another low-cost option. Campsite fees are low – often around $30 dollars or less. You will be more affected by weather, but for many people that’s part of the fun.
- Prepare some of your own meals when you travel. Eating at restaurants can be costly. Instead, try to stay at places that offer a built-in kitchen. They you can buy your own groceries and cook. Some people like to make their own breakfast and lunch, then eat dinner out. You’ll not only save money – it could be healthier too!
- Use discount coupons to save money on entertainment. For example, you can sometimes find coupons on the websites of a tourist attraction. Also look for special offers. Just make sure you know how to spot a scam. Some deals are too good to be true. How do I spot a vacation scam?
- Look for free activities and entertainment. You can spend a day at a public beach, or hike through a park or conservation area. You can also find museums and other places that ask for donations instead of admission fees.
Remember: a budget vacation doesn’t have to be a boring one. There are ways to both cut costs and add to your fun. For instance, shopping at a local market in a different city can be a special experience. Taking all that fresh food home and cooking a special meal can be unforgettable. And it costs a lot less than you would pay eating out.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.