Cut Vacation Costs Without Cutting Fun

Need a getaway that doesn't break the bank? Plan your next trip with these tips to help cut cost while adding more fun!

Two people preparing to go camping, they are standing in the trunk of their car looking at backpacks.

As the school year comes to an end, it may be time to start planning your summer vacation. However, due to the rising cost of just about everything, you may need to reimagine what that looks like. Use these cost-saving tips to reduce expenses and possibly allocate more to fun stuff.

Cost-Saving Ideas

Drive Instead Of Fly

The cost of plane tickets, baggage fees, and rental cars are just a few of the reasons air travel is among the most expensive ways to travel. Driving is less costly and as an added benefit, you’ll get to see more along the way. You can stop to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn, tour a meteorite crater, see a candle from Honest Abe’s funeral, and more. Websites like RoadsideAmerica or Thrillist will help you make getting there an enjoyable part of the trip.

Gas Apps

When out of town, it can be hard to know where to buy gas, and seldom is the least expensive gas in the most convenient location. However, by veering off course just a little, you can save enough money to add more fun to your travels. Apps like Gas Buddy, Gas Guru, and Waze will help you find your preferred octane for the best price.

Plan Your Packing

Have you ever arrived at your destination to find you forgot to pack your toothbrush, deodorant, or needed clothing? Making a list and checking it twice helps more than just Santa. Also, adding snacks and drinks to your list can save considerable money on roadside vending.

Camp Along The Way

Hotels can be expensive, but most campsites are inexpensive to use – sometimes free. Camping can be a fun way to bond as a family by hiking, foraging for food, and picnicking. Apps and websites like TheDyrt, Recreation (national parks only), ReserveAmerica (state parks only), and Tentrr make finding campsites and planning your trip easier.

Airbnb vs. Hotels

If camping isn’t your thing, finding an Airbnb can be a less expensive alternative to hotels. You can also customize your search by location, amenities, and type of dwelling. Look for extra cost savings at sites with free laundry, breakfast included, and free parking.

Make Meals Instead Of Eating Out

Meals away from home can be a strain on a vacation budget. Choosing to eat breakfast in your room or taking a sandwich to the park for lunch could be a fun and healthy alternative to eating out.

Pro Travel Tip: Ensure where you’re staying provides a refrigerator for perishable items.

Plan Ahead

If a state, national, or theme park is on your list to visit, research and purchase tickets in advance. Not only could this save you serious money, but you’ll also discover if the park is operating at reduced capacity and any required accommodations.

Pro Travel Tip: While you’re researching, don’t forget to see if parking passes are needed and if outside food and drinks are allowed.

Use Public Transportation

If you’re traveling in a city that offers public transportation, save money by making it your preferred way to travel.

Pro Travel Tip: Use this opportunity to mix with the locals and ask for suggestions on what to do in the city.

Ask Locals For Recommendations

Many locals are happy to share a bit of their culture with out-of-town guests, and they know the best places. Also, for added savings, choose to visit for lunch or to share your meal.

Pro Travel Tip: If you choose to share a meal, ensure it’s allowed, and there is no additional charge.

Ask About Discounts

At every leg of your journey, it pays to look for bargains. Many restaurants, theme parks, and hotels give senior, veterans, or affiliation discounts.

Pro Travel Tip: It never hurts to be extra polite when you ask for these discounts.


Whether you’re using a few or all of these cost-cutting strategies, every penny saved leaves room for more fun. It’s a good idea to have a trip budget that is allocated daily. Budgeting will help avoid overspending and making payments on your vacation for the rest of the year — or longer. One great way to increase your budget for next year is to regularly contribute to a vacation fund, preferably monthly, until you reach your savings goal.

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Providers and products are mentioned for educational purposes only. This in no way constitutes an endorsement or approval by A+FCU. Refer to the external organization’s site for the most up-to-date information as their products and terms are subject to change.

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