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Resources & Tools

How You Can Plan And Budget To Save Money On Your Summer Vacation

Katie Ross
Community Education and Marketing Manager
American Consumer Credit Counseling
When the weather finally starts to get warmer and people are eager to get out of the house and go on vacation, there is a need for good vacation information. With the brutal winter out of sight, more Americans are planning summer vacations than in years past. Average vacation costs—primarily due to travel—have only continued to increase year after year.

Follow this budgeting advice, save money while you’re on vacation with your family, and make the most of your summer vacation.


  • develop a spending plan
  • consider off-peak travel
  • think outside the hotel box
  • consider a road trip
  • travel during restaurant week


  • get charged credit card fees
  • eat out every night
  • shop in tourist stores
  • delete email deals
  • underestimate the value of free


Do develop a spending plan

Many people overspend on vacation because they don’t allocate where their money is going to be spent. Decide before you leave how much you are going to spend, and be specific. Include plane tickets, hotel prices, gas, meals, souvenirs, park admissions, etc. If the total amount looks too high, cut back costs until the vacation is in your budget. You can find an online Travel Budget Calculator that can help you figure out the cost of your vacation.

Do consider off-peak travel

Traveling during the week is significantly cheaper than on the weekends. If you can take off week-days and travel Monday through Thursday, you’ll beat the crowds and the weekend prices. Visit popular summer destinations in the winter and vice versa to get a great deal.

Do think outside the hotel box

Hotels can be very pricey. For a more affordable stay, look at other accommodations such as homeshares, condos, summer cottages, campsites or search on Airbnb.com. Especially if you are traveling with a group, these options can keep costs down. If hotels are your only option, check out websites like Hotels.com, Priceline.com and the app HotelsTonight to score deals.

Do consider a road trip

Instead of flying and paying for baggage costs, consider driving to your destination. Bring fun trivia and car games to turn what could be a boring car trip into an exciting adventure. You can also pack your own food to avoid restaurants and keep costs down.

Do travel during restaurant week

It is nice to treat yourself on vacation, but fancy restaurants don’t have to cost a fortune. Consider traveling during restaurant week at your vacation destination and dine at restaurants for a more reasonable price.


Do not get charged credit card fees

If you are traveling internationally, make sure your credit card does not charge fees for foreign transactions. The fees, albeit small, can add up quickly. Also, don’t let the shops you are buying from convert your purchase into dollars – they will give you a bad exchange rate and pocket the difference.

Do not eat out every night

Bringing food with you on vacation can save you tons of money. Eating out every night can be expensive—not to mention unhealthy. Pack food that you can cook each night and some snacks to help you stick to your vacation budget.

Do not shop in tourist stores

Souvenirs are great mementos of your vacation, but tourist souvenir shops overcharge customers. Check out local grocery stores, which have similar stuff, but with a much smaller price tag.

Do not delete email deals

Kayak.com, Living Social, Groupon and many airlines alert you when there are deals on tourist attractions, flights, and restaurants so you can get the most for your money.

Do not underestimate the value of free

Do your research ahead of time to see if there are any special offers happening where you are vacationing. Also, free activities a few states away can be a great way to road trip and save money.



Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, and a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Budgeting for a vacation and taking small money-saving steps can help you enjoy your vacation without breaking the bank—meaning you can relax and enjoy your time off without stressing about money.


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