This is our off year as far as big vacations go. We went to Universal Studios last year so this year’s summer itinerary will consist of closer to home, more budget friendly activities. Such would likely be the case even if it was not our off year. Less families are able to take the big vacations this year thanks to our tightened belts and empty wallets, many instead opting for the STAYcation. But if your summer plans are big enough to include a hotel room and maybe even airfare, I have some money saving vacation tips for you.
The best of our Orlando Vacations was a fluke. We splurged, didn’t plan, and had the best time of our lives. It was also the cheapest. We didn’t realize how much money our “splurge” actually saved us until each year after when our vacation spending seemed to more than double.
The secret vacation saver for us is the hotel room. We have found that by spending the extra money on accommodations with a kitchenette we save a ton of money on food. It might be hard to see the savings up front when you are planning because your original investment will be higher. But, especially when you have kids, you are nickel and dimed all day and night for a week on park food that is outrageously priced and most times not satisfying. In the end, the amount of money spent on your vacation turns out to be much higher, for much less.
A room with some sort of kitchen offers not only the opportunity to save money, but more personalized choices and a better feeling tummy at the end of the day. I’m not talking about cooking big dinners, necessarily, but having juice, milk, sandwiches, and snacks on hand to feed your elevated appetites and keep your body satisfied and fueled for long days of non stop activity.
In addition to the kitchenette, we try to find a hotel with a shopping service. We leave a grocery list at the front desk on our way out and when we come back the fridge and cupboards are filled. The shoppers use the local grocery store, not a convenience store, and even search for the best prices and favorite brands for you. The groceries are billed to your room and the service is free.
Different hotels offer different incentives. Our favorite freebie is breakfast, for a couple of reasons.
- Obvious is the savings. Think about how much money you spend at IHOP every morning when you’re on vacation. At a free breakfast buffet you will find all kinds of eggs, breakfast meat, bread and pastries, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, and specialty items.
- the bonus is the timing. I don’t know about you, but we all wake up at different times and we’re usually starving. It is so nice just to run downstairs and meet up for the breakfast buffet in our jammies, rather than having to wait until we’re all up and showered and ready for the day before we get to eat.
So while planning your vacation and considering your budget, think about the food available to you at the parks. OVERPRICED pretzels, corn dogs, hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, and chicken dinners. Pizza delivered or ordered from the hotel is very costly, too. Now think about a kitchen stocked with bread, lunch meat, pb&j, fruits, nuts, milk, cereal, and snacks. You can come back to the room for lunch and a nap or pack snacks to nibble when you’re out for the day. And when you get home late at night, famished from swimming all day you have all the goodies you need to avoid overspending at the convenience store or room service. It will be easier on your wallet and your tummy.
How do you save money on vacation?