After a long winter of hibernating indoors to avoid the rain and snow, you’re probably itching to get away from your daily life and soak up some sunshine.
Whether you plan on travelling overseas, exploring Canada, or just getting out of the city and going camping or to the cottage, your summer vacation options are endless – but that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. Fortunately, no matter what route you decide to take, there are always ways to cut back and save money.
Here are some of our favourite ways to save on summer vacations!
1. Set a budget
The most common way to go over budget is to arrive at your destination, decide “you only live once” is your motto, and use it to justify spending money on whatever you want to do, see, or buy. While you may only live once, coming home with a massive credit card bill can make life a little more difficult in the months after your trip. The best way to save money on any vacation is to set a budget beforehand and actually stick to it. That means committing to spending no more than $250, $500, $1,000, or whatever number seems appropriate and can comfortably be paid for with cash.
2. Redeem credit card points for free flights and hotels
While it always feels good to be able to pay for a vacation with cash, it feels even better to get parts of it covered for free. If you use a rewards credit card throughout the year, you could easily earn enough points to cover the costs of flights and/or hotels for your next trip. Some of the best credit cards also include free benefits like travel medical insurance, trip cancellation or interruption coverage, and even rental car coverage, all of which can be helpful when you’re travelling outside of your province or the country. And some even come with extra deals like companion flights or extra free nights if you stay for a certain period of time!
3. Consider alternative accommodations
Of course, if free hotel stays aren’t in the cards for you, you might want to consider some of the alternative accommodation options available. Aside from finding good deals on travel comparison sites, Airbnb should have something that fits your exact needs and with various price points. You could also consider renting a vacation home. If you’re going on a road trip, bring your camping gear and stay in a provincial or national park. If you’re travelling solo, you could do the same, or consider staying at a hostel or renting out a room in a home.
4. Take advantage of technology
Now that your accommodation is covered, let’s talk about the fun stuff: what you’re doing on the trip itself! One of the greatest uses for smartphones is downloading apps that’ll help you save money – and some of our favourites help you save money on vacations! Apps like GasBuddy help you find the cheapest gas stations nearby so you can pinch pennies while you’re on the road. Forks searches for restaurant coupons and deals (and Foodspotting lets you find out what restaurants the locals love most). And Viator is an app that gets you the guaranteed lowest prices on tours and attractions around the world.
5. Make trade-offs
Finally, if you really want to save on your summer vacation this year, consider the different kinds of trade-offs you can make. For example, instead of dining out for every meal, make breakfast in your room, take snacks with you for lunch, and only go out for dinner. Rather than waste money on cabs, see the city on foot or bicycle (many large cities have bike share systems). And even if you want to take in as many attractions as possible, pick one or two that fit into your budget and make the most of them. There’s also nothing wrong with doing mostly free or cheap activities (in fact, we’re partial to them).
Ultimately, you’re in charge of designing the vacation of your dreams. With a little legwork, you can do it for a lot cheaper than you think!
RateHub.ca is a financial services comparison site that helps Canadians find the best products to meet their needs. The education centres, tools, and calculators were designed to empower users to make smart financial decisions.