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Saving Money On Vacation

June 28, 2011 · 17 comments

in Life, Personal Finance

Whenever I plan a vacation, I try my best to plan ahead and keep our costs as low as possible. However, on this vacation, we have saved money in a few ways I didnt really plan for or anticipate.

Our first unexpected savings occurred on our way down to Myrtle Beach. We usually drive straight through to our destination when we travel, but for this trip, we decided we wanted to stay at a hotel somewhere in-between Michigan and South Carolina. Since I really didn’t know where we would stop, I just figured we could find a hotel wherever we were at when we felt tired. Well, that plan failed miserably. I called almost every hotel that showed up on my Garmin in two different cities, and only one hotel had vacancies. It was an Econolodge somewhere in West Virginia. When I went to the desk to check in, I asked if there were any non-pet rooms since my son is highly allergic. The clerk then said “every single room has probably hosted thousands of animals. We allow every kind of animal, including snakes, and lizards”. This little animal advertisement scared me half to death and I ran away, as did the other person that was in line. In the end, we pulled into the parking lot of a really nice hotel, turned off the car, and we all slept for about four hours. Total savings: $120.00 (including taxes and fees).

Our second savings occurred when we checked in to our hotel in Myrtle Beach. I had booked an ocean front room, which we did get. However, the condo section of the property is located in a separate building in front of the main hotel. So, when we looked to the left off our balcony, we could see the ocean. When we looked to the right, we could see the ocean slightly, but mostly we saw the roof of the condo building. I immediately called the front desk and stated how our room should really be considered “partial view”. After getting connected with a manager, they agreed to change the rate for our room. Total savings: $180.00

Our third savings experience occurred throughout the trip. We decided to take our new vehicle, the Ford Escape, as opposed to our roomier Taurus X. I didn’t really think much about gas savings when budgeting for the trip, but I am surprised how much cheaper it was to drive the Escape. Whereas I cannot exactly quantify the amount of savings yet, but it appears the Escape used about 25 percent less gas. Total estimated savings: $100.00

Of course, there were other ways we saved money, but they were all planned for. In the end, we unexpectedly spent about $400.00 less than anticipated (so far). That almost never happens, so I am thrilled.

Have you ever taken a vacation and either spent a lot more or less than planned?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Super Frugalette June 29, 2011 at 1:37 am

I try to always find a hotel that has a good continental breakfast. It reduces the costs of a meal for the day and keeps everyone full.


101 Centavos June 29, 2011 at 7:09 am

I think for us it all nets out. What we manage to save, we blow on vacation-type splurges and extravaganzas.


First Gen American June 29, 2011 at 7:37 am

I had the same hotel experience last week, but it was for work. I did end up staying at a fleabag motel. It was not pretty. Who would have thought buffalo was so packed on a Tuesday night?

I also had that same thing happen when I ended up driving back from my cross country trip. Instead of sleeping in the car, we just ended up driving all night til we were home.

We also did a driving vacation this year. It was good. Not nearly as horrible as my husband envisioned..until little man got car sick that is. I’m glad you stood up for yourself on the hotel. Way to save $400. That’s always a good thing.


Nicole June 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

Have you ever taken a vacation: No, not really… All of ours are combined with conferences, visiting family, weddings, and moving. Sometimes both a wedding and a conference. Given that, we usually get free housing, except at the occasional wedding or when we’re moving. We actually look for places that allow pets when we’re moving– easier in some states than others.

It seems like everyone is traveling this week! Not me… I’ve got several July 1 deadlines. I’m going to collapse asleep all day July 2nd.


Little House June 29, 2011 at 9:12 am

You did save quite a bit by making a few last minute choices! As for myself, we go camping to save money for our vacations. We used to purchase our groceries in a town near the campsite (which always cost more in small towns!), now we purchase our food near our home and can take advantage of the larger grocery store prices and save money. That’s been our biggest savings so far. 😉


Crystal @ BFS June 29, 2011 at 10:14 am

We usually book a few shows to see in Las Vegas and then get crazy-awesome deals on others after we land. 🙂

I really hope you are having a great time!


Harri @ TotallyMoney June 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

Definitely second Super Frugalette’s tips! Purloining a few extra bread rolls at the breakfast buffet means that you won’t find yourself forking out on lunch later on that day.

Fuel efficiency en route to your destination is definitely key. Driving efficiently (avoiding harsh breaking, driving steadily at speed limits, making sure your tires are properly pumped, winding down the wind instead of over-egging the air con) can make a world of difference in your gas consumption.


Squirrelers June 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Your experience in pulling into the parking lot and having everyone crash for a while reminded me of the one time I did that, driving to Florida from Indiana on spring break many years ago. We drove south without any room reservations whatsoever, and ended up feel exhausted by the time we reached Chattanooga, TN. We recharged by eating at a Waffle House, then got back the car and barreled south toward Florida. By the time we reached Atlanta, it was morning and we were exhausted. We pulled into a hotel parking lot and slept for 3 hours. Saved us some money!


retirebyforty June 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I always book my hotels in advance. I checked on trip advisors and other sources and go for the medium range hotel. I like to know where I’ll be spending the night. 😉


Barb Friedberg July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Especially loved the first stop (in the car). Too bad you couldn’t do that for several nights :). It’s really fun to have unexpected savings (much better than the alternative).


Kris July 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Barb- It is wonderful to get a ‘windfall’ instead of throwing more money out the window. I hope you get some pleasant surprises on your journey across the country!


Forex Broker November 9, 2011 at 4:10 am

These are all fantastic tips! When we go on vacation, we usually stay at a cottage or villa that is equipped with a kitchen. That way, we can eat in at least half of the time, which saves us plenty of money. When we do eat out, coupons are the way to go.


Kris November 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

It wasn’t until I had kids that I realized how important it was to have a kitchen where you stay. Saves a ton of money, that is for sure!


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