How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget – 10 Tips to Save Money

Life is measured not in minutes, but in moments. A song from the famous Broadway musical advises us to measure life with love, and we – with impressions. Perhaps there is no better way to get new emotions than to go on a trip.

How to plan a vacation on a budget - 10 tips to save money

A relaxing family vacation or a fun adventure with friends is equally valuable and desirable for each of us. However, our life is arranged in such a way that in order to get these emotions, we need to spend money. As a result, we sometimes earn for months or even years in order to go on a long-awaited trip that will not hit our pocket too hard with unforeseen expenses.

Today we will try to give you some tips on planning a vacation on a budget. Or how you can get new experiences and have a good rest, while not limiting your spending in everyday life.

1. Decide What Your Vacation Will Be Like

While you are planning a trip, be sure to decide how you see it. Will it be a relaxing vacation in a place checked by others? Or an extravagant trip to the ends of the earth? Do you want to relax with your family or are you planning to step out of your comfort zone and experience an unforgettable experience?

The format of your future vacation will decide everything because the budget of travel will vary greatly depending on the travel destination. Of course, you can try to find an opportunity to relax on a tropical island on a minimal budget, but it is better to choose something less exotic if you do not want to pay a tidy sum for an air ticket.

2. Plan Your Vacation Budget

We are not going to give you professional financial advice, but you should determine in advance the financial framework that you would like to fit into. To avoid a vacation that hurts your pocket, it is advisable to either start saving money or look for ways to cut costs and deal with personal finance.

If a great offer turns up before you have the necessary amount of money in your account, you should not refuse it. Sometimes a luxury hotel may launch promotional offers for a period of only a few days and they need to be redeemed quickly. If you need money now, you can apply for a vacation loan from one of the companies providing such services. It is better to borrow money and return it than to miss the opportunity to have a luxurious and profitable vacation.

Since the amount that can be spent on vacation is individual for everyone, recommendations on the most appropriate spending of it can only be relative. A standard trip to warm regions for 7-10 days turns out to be the most balanced when the sum of transport and housing costs is correlated with the sum of expenses for food and entertainment, as 1:1.25. If this ratio is slightly changed in favor of entertainment, the vacation becomes simply unforgettable.

No matter how carefully you plan your budget, there can always be room for unexpected expenses. So that some unplanned incident, an exclusive excursion or an expensive souvenir that you suddenly like, does not make a hole in your budget, form a reserve. As practice shows, a reserve of funds in the amount of 10% of the total cost of the trip will help you easily overcome simple surprises. If you are a supporter of reliable solutions, increase the reserve rate to 20%, and then you will even bring some of the money back from your vacation with you!

3. Look for Hot Deals

You can have a good vacation even with a tight budget and a very small amount of money. If you plan your budget and vacation in advance, you should pay attention to these little tricks:


Don’t throw away the flyers you get from the store or close the promotional emails in the mail. Sometimes there you can find interesting offers or profitable airfare deals. Always try to find better deals out there that can help you cut your budget.


Cheap flight, discount on hotel accommodation and excursions. It can be seasonal sales or discounts for your birthday. You can find flight discounts on popular resources like Skyscanner, Google Flights. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these types of deals, they can go a long way in reducing costs and sometimes improving the quality of your holiday.

Book a Last-Minute Cruise (or Book Far in Advance)

Cruises or other tourist tours are often worth booking either well in advance or at the last moment. This way you can get the lowest price. With this, we recommend contacting a travel agent and asking to show you possible vacation packages.

4. Vacation with a Group

Going on holiday with a big group can save you money. Accommodation and meals are often more profitable when divided among more people. If you plan to travel by car, this way you can share the cost of gasoline.

Plus, spending time with friends is always more fun. You will never have questions about what to do and how to entertain yourself, even if you go to a place that is not the most popular for parties.

5. Look for Hotel Alternatives

Staying in a hotel when you travel abroad is generally expensive. With a small budget and credit card options, consider other accommodation options.


Most destinations have a developed network of hostels. It may not be as comfortable as a hotel, but it will save you money. For more comfort, some hostels offer private rooms.

Plus, hostels are usually close to attractions, which can help you save extra money on transport.

Small private hotels

Such hotels are usually not advertised and we recommend looking for them yourself, however, this can reduce travel costs. In addition, the owners often closely monitor the service and offer many bonuses for the accommodation of their tourists.


If you are planning your trip to a big city, renting an apartment is a great option for budget vacations. Many local sites offer such services now. Apartments can be of different levels and different sizes, there is always an opportunity to choose an option for your budget. In addition, in the apartments, you can always provide yourself with the necessary level of privacy and feel at home, thanks to little things like a kitchen and a separate bedroom.


Traveling to nature in the warm season may be your choice for camping. Usually it costs very little money, for example the middle price for the parking in the camping on Lake Clementine is $5-$10. Also this is an opportunity not only to significantly save money but also to experience an unforgettable experience of merging with nature.  Modern campsites are often equipped with shared restrooms and showers, and there are also shops next to them where you can buy groceries.

Stay with friends

If you decide to spend your holidays with friends or relatives in the city, you can try to stay at their house. This will help you save on hotel costs and use your credit card less. And also you can communicate more with your loved ones. Another option could be Couch Surfing. It is a social networking service and hospitality exchange service by which users can request homestays or interact with other people who are interested in travel. All you need to do is to register in the app.

How to plan a vacation on a budget - 10 tips to save money

6. Travel During the Off-Season

Prices always go up during peak times. Therefore, if you want to fit into the budget, you should plan your next vacation in a different time period than other travelers. Autumn or spring trips also have their charm. You can have a great time admiring the local sights in comfortable weather with fewer tourists around, choosing non peak times for traveling.

7. Choose Accommodation with Food or a Kitchen for Cooking

When choosing a vacation spot, give preference to those hotels where meals are included in the price. Or choose an apartment with a kitchen. Since constant eating at a restaurant can hurt the budget, and fast food can be harmful in large quantities. Take care of the other family members and cook homemade food for them even on vacation.

Even if your hotel or hostel only offers breakfast, this might already be a good option. A hearty breakfast will help you spend a good chunk of the day without thinking about food.

8. Consider Staying in your Own City

A big trip to a foreign country is always exciting. However, even in your hometown you can find many places that you have not yet seen and have a short vacation there on a minimal budget.

To have a good time, it is not necessary to fly to another country for two weeks. Sometimes a simple weekend in the country can be a lifesaver. A vacation within your state can also be a great solution when you don’t want to pay a lot of money, but you want to break out of your usual routine.

9. Study Information

The more information you learn about the place you plan to travel to, the more comfortable your trip will be. You can help not only yourself and your loved ones, but also tell them interesting information, saving, perhaps, on the services of a guide.

If you have already decided on a specific location, take as much time as possible to study the information. Find out the specialties of the cuisine and the best restaurants where the locals dine. Study transportation schemes, as taxi rides can significantly increase spending. Souvenirs are also worth buying outside the city center so as not to pay exorbitant prices for them.

Planning trips ahead of time will help make your vacation on a budget, but great. It will also save you from unnecessary headaches and stress because you will not constantly spend your vacation time looking for information on the Internet.

10. Grab a Good Mood

No matter how trite it may sound, there is nothing more important than your mood. The trip may cost you a couple of hundred or a couple of thousand dollars, but money means nothing if you are not in a positive mood.

Creative ways to spend your vacation, new acquaintances, vivid impressions and amazing places. Any trip is a real adventure. And it doesn’t matter at all how much money you paid, as long as you have wonderful memories at the end. Let yourself relax and enjoy what you see and what surrounds you. This will be the best decision, no matter how you plan your vacation.

Final Thoughts on Planning a Budget Vacation

Vacation time, no matter where and how you spent it, will be unforgettable. Will you follow the beaten path or decide to go off the beaten track by exploring something new. Any option will bring you new emotions and impressions.

And to ensure your vacation doesn’t hurt your credit card balance, heed our tips above and try to carefully plan your trip and your finances. We also recommend that you carefully pack your suitcases so that you do not have to spend money buying something you forgot at home.

We tried not to give strict advice, but we will be glad if what you read will help you spend your vacation fun and at a minimal cost.

And remember that any money can be earned or borrowed, but there is only one life and you need to get as much good from it as possible.

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