Let’s face it, 2020 was a tough year in a lot of ways. Two areas that were greatly impacted were the hospitality and travel industries. Many people had dream vacations planned that were canceled or put on hold. After a year of quarantine, you might be ready for a getaway and now it is 2024, yes, 4 years from 2020 now, what’s stopping you to go out?

Vacationing can be expensive no matter where you go! Food, gas, or unexpected expenses can add up preventing you from taking the vacation that you deserve.

Luckily, there are some ways you can cut down on these costs. Check out the tips below to help plan a vacation that doesn’t break the bank.

1. Make a Vacation Budget

Creating a budget for your monthly expenses can go a long way towards helping you save for a getaway. Before you start vacationing with reckless abandon, take a moment and create a plan for your trip.

It can feel restrictive to plan for fun. But the alternative is potentially putting yourself in hot water financially. It’s easy to overspend when you’re in vacation mode, especially in tourist areas. Try to think of your vacation budget as permission to spend as opposed to a fun-killer.

You’re going on vacation for a chance to get away and relax. Why come home to a wrecked checking account or overdraft fees? That sounds like more stress than when you left! Creating a budget before you start swiping your debit card can aid in keeping things under control.

Decide what you can afford for your vacation and then start modeling a budget around that. Plan for lodging and transportation first, as those tend to be high-ticket items. Then plan out some fun activities and decide your food budget.

Make sure to add in a line item for miscellaneous expenses like a drink or dessert here and there. You might also find yourself shopping for a tourist trinket or last-minute swimsuit you forgot to pack.

2. Cut Your Food Costs

One area that tends to creep up in vacation spending is food. It’s no surprise that this line item can really add up since you’re not cooking at home. Planning ahead for the week or even for the day can really save you money.

If you’re staying in a hotel, look for options that include a free breakfast. If you’re staying at a rental that includes a kitchen, buy a few items to save on eating out. You can buy items to

make breakfast at the house. You could also grab some snack items like protein bars.

Trying to just eat one meal a day out in a restaurant can help you save on food expenses. This is especially true the larger your group is. Check menu prices on your phone before you pick your restaurant as well. This way, you can narrow down what sounds tasty and won’t be a shock when you get the bill.

3. Check for Lodging Deals

Once you decide where you’re traveling, look for hotels in the area that have the best rates. Then check out travel sites to compare prices. You might discover a room with two double beds costs less than a room with a king.

Different vacation rentals like VRBO and Airbnb can also give you more space for less money. These can be especially good options for longer stays or if you have a larger group to split the cost.

One bonus is you can pick a rental with different amenities included that can save you in the long run. A house with a kitchen can help shave your food budget. A rental with its own pool or hot tub adds an activity you don’t have to pay extra for.

4. Plan Trips in the Off-Season and Non-Peak Travel Times

Looking for even more savings? Plan your trip in the off-season. Summer is a big travel time for vacations in the US. Anytime kids are out of school also tends to be busier and therefore will be more expensive. If you’ve been wanting to take a trip, look at rates in the spring or fall. Be sure to avoid the spring break rush of college students in beach towns, though!

If Disney World or other theme park has been on your bucket list, try to visit right after these breaks. You will likely find fewer people and lower prices for the parks and hotels.

If you’ve been looking forward to an all-inclusive trip to Cancun, avoid mid-March through early April. Lots of spring break trips happen during this time. You’ll find savings booking your trip between May and November. September and October tend to have the cheapest rates due to being the rainier months of the season.

Trips to England tend to be cheaper during the winter months. If you can stand doing your sightseeing in a winter coat, scarf, gloves, and hat, go for it! Check out the flight prices to London in February, where you can find significant savings.

Aside from looking into off-season sales, be sure to travel on non-peak days of the week as well. For example, Sundays are the lowest-cost day to check in to a hotel. If you book over a

weekend, especially a holiday weekend, your hotel rates are often much higher. 

5. Visit Friends and Family

Another great way to enjoy a getaway on a budget is to go where you have friends and family. Not only will it be great to visit but staying with them can slash your lodging budget.

Many times, loved ones are excited for a visit, and love to show you around as well. You’ll get to see their city as a local and they can play tour guide. At night it can be fun to grill at home, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.

Can you accomplish some of your travel goals in addition to visiting family? For example, it’s a bonus if you’re pumped for a trip to Disney World and your sister lives in Orlando. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try deep-dish pizza in Chicago and your college roommate lives off the

Magnificent Mile. If you’re on a road trip from Texas to Michigan, you could visit your parents in Iowa on the way. This is a good way to visit while you’re in the area and save a few nights in hotel costs.

Being intentional in planning your vacation can go a long way to making sure costs don’t get out of hand. Creating a plan before you go and sticking to it allows for guilt-free fun. These tips

can help you cut expenses to get the most out of your vacation without breaking the bank.