You’ve done your research and found great rates on airfare and lodging, but that’s just the first step to keeping costs down on your vacation. Planning ahead can help you keep your costs down on dining and entertainment as well.
Senior lifestyle editor at RetailMeNot.com Trae Bodge recommends that you hold onto the smart shopping strategies you follow at home while you’re on vacation. If your family enjoys chain restaurants, or you’re looking forward to taking in a movie or a day at the spa, try to pick up some gift cards at a discount. Try GiftCardGranny.com, where you can find gift cards from a whole range of providers, many at discounts up to 30%.
Gabe Saglie, senior editor for the travel deals website TravelZoo.com recommends looking online to see if there are promotions on the attractions you’d like to see. Amusement parks and other attractions offer discounts online to travelers who buy ahead of time. In Gurnee, Illinois, Six Flags Great America sells tickets online at a discount as high as $20 each. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio offers a $12 discount.
Also, check your credit card’s perks and be sure you take advantage of everything you can. Bodge says some cards offer waived baggage fees, hotel room upgrade, or the ability to use points to cover some of your travel expenses. A study done at CardHub.com in 2014 found that all major credit cards offer some level of insurance on rental cars, so if you’re planning to rent a car for your stay, this could help with that expense.
If you are a member of AAA or AARP, be sure to take your membership cards with you, as many restaurants, attractions, and other places offer discounts on one or the other (or both, but usually not stackable).
According to Saglie, many hotel packages are being reorganized, so you may want to consider rethinking your hotel, if they offer refunds. By paying slightly more for your room, you could enjoy amenities, such as breakfast, valet parking, or even discounts on some of the attractions you may be considering. Be sure to carefully compare pricing, though. In some cases, the amenities could provide significant savings, while in other cases it could end up costing you more.
Finally, don’t ignore rewards programs, even if you don’t think you’ll ever use them again. Hotels such as Marriott and Intercontinental Hotels Group offer free Wi-Fi to members from the day you sign up, and MGM Resorts’ M Life includes discounts to many shows and stores in Las Vegas.
Still looking for more? Feel free to check out our comprehensive personal finance guide to learn more about managing your budget and staying financially healthy.