9 Budget Travel Hacks for a More Affordable Summer Vacation

Summer is finally here and you’re ready to set off on fun family adventures! Maybe you have road trip plans or you’re thinking about flying somewhere exotic. But between flights and/or gas, accommodations, food, and admission to different attractions, the costs of travel can add up quickly. Check out some of our best budget travel hacks below that can help make your summer vacation plans more affordable.

Be Flexible with Dates

If you have some flexibility with your dates, you can often find better prices by searching before and after your preferred dates. While summer is usually peak season, you can almost always save by booking flights and hotels midweek.

Use a Private Browsing Window

When you’re browsing flights and hotels online, you may think you’re seeing the same prices as someone else visiting the same website, but you might be mistaken. Websites use cookies to track information about you including your location, previous visits/purchases, and previous prices you’ve been quoted. Using this information, they can then personalize the prices they show you, which means you may not be getting the best price.

When you’re searching flights and hotels, use a private or incognito browsing window. If you’re using a desktop, you should also check their mobile site as prices can vary between desktop and mobile too.

Pack Light

For those of you flying, some airlines still allow free checked bags under a certain weight. Be sure to research your airline’s rules around bag sizes and weights to take advantage of any deals they may offer. Carry on bags are (still) free, so you can save by packing light and only taking a carry on. If that’s not a reasonable option, then pack less and maximize the size of both your carry on bag and your suitcase so you can minimize the number of checked luggage you’ll need to pay for.

Pack Your Snacks

You can make your own meals and snacks for much cheaper than eating out at a restaurant. Stop at a local grocery store and pick up some groceries to make delicious and healthy meals on a budget. Most hotel rooms come with a mini fridge, so you can easily keep milk for breakfast cereal and sandwich supplies in your room. 

If you’ll be staying for more than a couple of days, consider upgrading to a room with a kitchenette. They’re often not that much more than a standard room, and if you have the time and inclination, you can save significantly by preparing at least some of your meals in-room.

Eat Out at Lunch

If you do decide to eat out, choose lunch for your restaurant meal. Lunch prices are often significantly cheaper than dinner, and many restaurants offer lunch deals. Food trucks and street food can also save you a bunch as well as give you the chance to try a little bit of local flavour.

Seek Local Deals

You can often find cheap and discounted meals, activities, tours, festivals, and attractions when you book last minute or through discount apps. Apps like Groupon and Travelzoo can help you find the best local deals to make the most out of your stay without overspending.

Take Public Transportation

Public transportation like trains and buses are way less expensive than renting a vehicle or taking a taxi for the duration of your stay. Elect to take public transportation where possible to save money.

Be Beach Ready

Many of the most popular vacation destinations revolve around beaches. While the beach can seem like a cost-effective option at first, hidden costs can easily pop up if you aren’t prepared. Make sure to bring towels, cold drinks, sunscreen, beach toys, and other supplies with you instead of buying them at the expensive beach shops. A small cooler can hold drinks and snacks for the whole family.

Be Smart With Your Card

When you’re on summer vacation, the expenses associated with hotel stays, food, and more can really add up. Since you’re going to be spending that money anyway, choose a credit card that rewards you for spending. Whether you get miles for travel, rewards points, or cash back, use a card that gives you something in return for your purchases.

Many credit cards also carry travel insurance or offer discounts on car rentals or hotel chains, so be sure to take a look at any deals on your credit card’s website! We’ve saved money by purchasing through our Costco membership, and you can sometimes pick up additional discounts if you’re a military family, government employee, or senior citizen.

When it comes to your travel plans this summer, there are lots of budget travel hacks for your summer vacation that can help you save money. Let these tips help you focus more on having fun and less on your wallet!

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  • I really need help with the “packing light” part! I always bring way too much stuff. But recently I’ve been utilizing the local deals tip to save money!

  • I am SO trying the private browser search! That is brilliant. I almost always get groupons before going into the States… we’ve really saved a lot by using them in LA, Orlando and Las Vegas. Thanks for your great tips.