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Topic: Money saving vacations...

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Subject: Money saving vacations...
Date Posted: 5/13/2009 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2006
Posts: 4,505
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Hi all!  We are going on vacation Saturday, and I thought I'd share some money saving vacation tips!

Look into renting timeshares.  You don't have to own a timeshare to rent them.  For about the same cost as a motel room you can rent a two bedroom condo with a fully equipped kitchen.  Generally, they are weekly rentals. 

If you DO rent a condo, utilize the kitchen!  We would be buying groceries at home for meals anyway.... just find a local grocery store (we usually find a Walmart wherever we go) and buy your food.  We tend towards a little more convience items than we might at home, but it's still a huge savings over eating out all the time.  I also have a small set of pantry supplies we take that helps me cook.  A few spices, little jars of sugar and flour, etc.  I often pack up many of my dry goods and canned goods from my pantry at home (cereal, pasta and sauce, canned fruit etc) and buy fresh stuff when we get there.

Pack your cooler for the trip and plan picnic lunches on the way there and back.  Sometimes we also do the Subway thing.  Buy a sandwich, but have our own drinks and chips.  Much cheaper than a full fast food lunch.  Chicken tenders from Walmart deli is another meal we often plan along the same lines.  If we want to stop and eat lunch, you can't beat the price of a pizza slice or a hot dog at Sam's Club if you are a member.

Look into reciprocal agreements with museum and zoo memberships.  We have a membership to our local children's museum and I've mapped out all the reciprocal museums on our route.  It's great "free" entertainment (minus the cost of membership of course).

Prepay wherever possible.  I've been buying Walmart giftcards with every little bit of extra money left at the end of the month for the past several months.  We have about $300 in cards to spend on groceries, toiletries, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.  I also tend to buy souvineers at Walmart if possible (the Walmart in Orlando has TONS of Disney stuff, much cheaper than in the parks).

Pre-buy passes and tickets if possible.  You can often get a buy ahead or internet deals if you buy your tickets before you go. 

If you are doing Disneyworld, consider non-expiring passes.  A couple of years ago, with our tax return, we bought 6 day non-expiring passes with the water park option for the entire family.  This gives us 6 days to play at the large Disney Parks, and another 6 days to play at the water parks.  It was expensive to purchase up front, but the days we don't use don't expire.  This will be our third trip on these tickets, and we will probably get one more trip out of them!  We don't feel pressured to go to the parks every day, so we don't get exhausted.  We enjoy the pool and go see other things around Orlando, or take day trips to Cocoa Beach or Cape Canavaral on our other days. 

Plan stops to visit family and friends on the way if possible!  It's an 18 hour drive for us to Orlando, but we have family on the way, so we don't have to stop at a motel overnight, plus the cousins have fun for a bit.

What other money saving vacation ideas to you all have?







Subject: Money Saving Vacations
Date Posted: 5/14/2009 10:39 PM ET
Member Since: 5/26/2008
Posts: 102
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Great ideas, thanks!  Like you, we have rented condos, houses, and cabins and loved the extra room, privacy, and saving money on meals.  We rented a beautiful condo in Panama City Beach, Florida last fall, right on the water, it was wonderful.  We are renting a house just outside San Francisco with another couple in September.

Other travel tips for saving money:  (1) use frequent flyer miles whenever possible; we don't fly often enough to earn many miles, but have a CapitolOne credit card we use for everything, and we had enough miles to fly free to Hawaii last week, and pay for a hotel room in Waikiki Beach for one night, before boarding our cruise ship;  (2) read TripAdvisor, CruiseCritic, and other websites so you can see what others thought of popular attractions, plus learn other money saving tips; they have never steered me wrong about a hotel or cruise ship;  (3) go to discount websites for everything possible, from airfare to hotels to rent cars, and use every discount you can qualify for, whether it's being a senior, working for a certain company, living in a certain state, etc.;  we recently saved hundreds of dollars on our Hawaii cruise because my husband was a veteran, and also got a $150 shipboard credit;  (4) youa re so right about buying souvenirs like T-shirts and mugs at Wal-Mart and K-Mart; they have the same things as the pricey souvenir shops much cheaper; (5) collect discounts for hotels, restaurants, and attractions in local newspapers and free magazines;  (6) go to E-Bay to purchase gift cards and discount coupons; we have done this lots of times, everything from Entertainment books and cards to discounts for theme parks; (7) use the largest suitcases allowed by the airlines to reduce the total number of pieces of luggage, and save on the checked-bags charges.

Happy traveling, everyone!

Date Posted: 5/14/2009 11:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,367
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We rented a condo (well, ok, my MIL did so I don't know how much it was) and it was really nice.  When we went on our honeymoon we looked into hotels that catered to business folks, so they had a weekly rental.  Ours actually served dinner during the week as well.  It was also quite nice. Not as fancy as the condo, but probably cheaper.  No "view" but s'ok, we weren't in the room much (and didn't care when we were!).

When my folks & I traveled in the summer on travel days we always had breakfast in the hotel room (either provided w/the hotel or cereal f/the "Food box" we brought with & milk from the cooler), lunch at a rest area (sandwhiches out of the cooler), then ate at a resturant for dinner.  We didn't have a huge cooler, so we could restock it w/one tub in evening & one tub of ice in the morning from the motel ice maker, and not have them grump at us.

Date Posted: 5/15/2009 9:55 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 137
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Check the visitors bureau's of the cities/states you are going to visit.  They often have specials and discounts on hotels or attractions that might not be advertised anywhere else.  

Rewards programs for hotel chains often offer specials only to the program members, so sign up for all you can and check their members only specials.  

I use AAA discounts for nearly everything when traveling, plus I have the peace of mind if I break down while traveling I have someone to call.  I definitely use the discounts (from movie tickets, dining, hotels, attraction tickets, to auto parts) more than I use their road side assistant services!

Date Posted: 5/16/2009 8:16 AM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2005
Posts: 2,168
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We each take a backpack filled with books, sunglasses, music, an extra set of clothes, ect. Keeps us from digging into suitcases constantly.

When we go on outings, we take turns carrying one group backpack filled with flip flops for water rides, a towel, partially frozen plastic water bottles (fill them at water fountains, one daughter even takes the little packets of lemonaide to add to it)  a few pieces of fruit, the camera, sunscreen, and a handful of other snacks. Not purchasing drinks and snacks saves us about $20-$30 a day, more when we are at an adventure park. We also hit up a local store for snacks and drinks to keep in the hotel room. (A fridge is a MUST)

We typically avoid fast food while on vacation. I only book at a hotel that offers a hefty breakfast and we always take advantage of that. Often as soon as we wake up, then a piece of fruit before we leave for the day. (With two teenage daughters, the time between the two is often a few hours for primping) Lunch is a decent sit down restaurant, even if we have to leave the park / zoo and come back later. A couple of hours to regroup makes our afternoons much better. Dinner is either snacklike if we are back in our room (cheese and crackers, popcorn, roll ups) or a group meal like pizza or a bucket of chicken if we are still out. 

I obviously try to save $$$ on food, which I find to be one of the biggest expenses of traveling.   I figure that I have a food budget at home, there's no reason to blow it on vacation.

Date Posted: 5/16/2009 3:30 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 37,828
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Entertainment Books are sometimes helpful (for reduced rates on hotels, car rentals, air fares, movies, chain restaurants)

Date Posted: 5/16/2009 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2006
Posts: 706
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Edie - these are some great ideas.   I want to go to Florida to see my son & his family.  He is in Panama City.    I like the idea of packing a little portable pantry and getting a place that has a kitchen.  I stay with my son when I go alone but if my husband and I both get to go it's best to do something like this.

Date Posted: 7/16/2009 9:55 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2009
Posts: 61
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My family is going on vacation next week. Although our camp is fully staffed (don't need to cook-all meals provided), there are still things that I am trying to cut back on. My family loves snacking--chips, cheese and crackers, you name it. So I decided to make my own 100 calorie pack/single serving baggies (and yes, I know that all my snacks won't be 100 calories, but I think you get the gist). For instance, I went through our candy/cracker/snack drawer last weekend and split everything into snack size bags. I put approximately 1 serving (usually listed on bag) per bag. I also purchased a few more items and did the same thing (m&ms, pretzels, etc). At the very least, there are many options and if you want more than one bag, then you take it. Also, I am hoping that since they are in small baggies, my family will reduce the amount that they are eating. Sometimes I will sit down with a big bag of chips, and end up eating 1/4 of it just sitting there not paying attention.
Date Posted: 7/17/2009 6:30 AM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2007
Posts: 2,289
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I let my kids buy their trinkets/souveniers towards the end of the vacation.  They have more time to check out the selections and then decide rather than impulse buy.  Also, if you can get them off-site (rather than directly at Disney) then it will be much cheaper.

Borrow things if you can.  We went camping for a week and were debating about a small portable grill.  A co-worker of my DH let us borrow his grill for a week.  We only ended up using it 3 times (bad weather) so I am really glad we didn't spend money on it.