10 tips to avoid debt on vacation for solo travelers, couples looking for a great getaway, or a large family looking to save money on their next trip.
Did you know that it is not uncommon for Americans to go into debt to pay for a vacation?
A survey was done by LearnVest last year & they discovered that “74% of people say they’ve gone into debt to pay for a vacation, to the tune of $1,108, on average.”
Isn’t that crazy? Yet at the same time very believable!
Because let’s face it, we live in an age of bucket lists, YOLOs, & a growing mantra of acquiring less stuff & more memories.
But just because we prefer traveling to dining room chairs (true story, the only chair in our house is my desk chair) doesn’t mean we have to go into debt doing so.
It’s all about being smart with your money & making it work harder so you don’t have too.
And I know what some of you may be thinking. Your husband is a dentist, you don’t have to save, of course, you don’t have debt!
Ummm… NO! While Roger does pay for the majority of the expenses in our marriage, our travel expenses are paid for by ME.
Which means I have to get creative in order to be able to afford traveling to places like Europe, Cancun, & Maui.
So I’ve learned a thing, or two, or ten about how to avoid debt while traveling the world.
But these tips aren’t just for world travelers, all of these tips are great for family vacations, & most of them are also great for the solo travel adventurers & couples looking for a relaxing vacation.
And if you have any tips for saving money while traveling be sure to comment below because I know we would all love to hear your tips & advice!
1. Research Locations
Once you know the general location of where you want to go, like Maui, Colorado, or Florida the next step is to figure out where is the least expensive & most enjoyable location in that area.
Look for hidden treasures & off the beaten path locations that will bring you great enjoyment, adventure, & relaxation while still keeping you on budget.
For instance, Florida has 663 miles of beaches, you can easily avoid popular (& therefore more expensive) beach towns by simply doing some research.
2. High vs. Low Season
If you are vacationing during the summer you may have a hard time finding a travel destination that is not a high tourist season, so you can skip this tip.
But for those of you with a flexible schedule, I highly recommend researching low tourist season for the destination to which you want to travel.
Although you may want to avoid low tourist season for natural reoccurring events like hurricanes, blizzards, or blistering heat!
Roger & I do less big adventure traveling during the summer, like Maui & Europe because these places are already crowded with higher prices for travel, stay, & sometimes food. We prefer to visit Maui in the winter after all the holidays & before spring break begins (which is great for whale watching), but their real low season is in the fall, which we’ve also enjoyed.
We are also planning a trip back to Paris this fall once school is back in session across the world.
3. Use Points
Using built up points is a great way to travel for cheap.
If you start planning early you could even get a new credit card specifically for building up points for your dream vacation.
Roger & I both have our own Marriott Visa Card that we use regularly & accrue points for hotel stays. You can learn how to start earning points for yourself by clicking here.
We also recently stayed at a 5-Star All-Inclusive Resort in Cancun for FREE because of using our shared Hyatt Visa Card. Click here to see the point rewards for the Hyatt Visa Card.
You can also get credit cards for airplane miles. If you were able to use both free airplane miles & points for a stay (at an all-inclusive resort) you could have a virtually free vacation!
P.S. This tip only works if you can pay off the card immediately. Otherwise, you aren’t saving money.
The best way to successfully avoid credit card debt is by making sure that you always have enough in your checking account before making a purchase on your credit cards.
I will admit, Roger is WAY better at this than me, but praise God I have never had to pay any interest on any of my credit cards.
If you are traveling with friends or family a great way to save money is to carpool & split the cost of gas (+ a little extra to cover the driver’s car miles/maintenance).
Or to save your car from excessive miles you could all chip in on renting a vehicle + insurance so you don’t have to worry about incidentals down the road. Pun intended.
5. Book as a Group
Instead of everyone getting their own room at a hotel you could all split the bill to rent a house or condo together.
That way you not only save money but also get to spend more time together.
6. Stay Off Site
This is a great way to save money.
Whether you are wanting to visit a major city or a theme park, staying off-site, or in the suburbs, is a great way to save money.
You can easily commute in for the same enjoyment but at a much lower rate than staying on site.
This last week we decided to go on a week-long vacation, something we hadn’t done in 8 months.
We knew we wanted to save on costs, not only because vacations can get expensive fast, but also because we are building a house & still have more trips planned for the rest of the year.
And since travel expenses fall under my jurisdiction of the bills to be paid (& I definitely do not make as much as Roger) saving money was a must!
So we decided to stay inland in South Carolina instead of on Hilton Head Island with the rest of my family & we just commuted the short distance onto the island to spend the day with my family.
Bonus, we also used tip #3 to make the stay free!
7. Try Groupon Getaways & Excursions
This is a huge money saver, especially when it comes to booking big vacations!
I’ve written a whole post about 5 Things You Must Know Before Booking a Groupon Getaway that you can read here.
We’ve used Groupon many times to travel inexpensively including a trip to Europe where we traveled to Paris, Barcelona, & Rome!
8. Stay in an Air B&B
Although we’ve stayed in B&B’s we truthfully haven’t yet stayed in an Air B&B yet.
Even still, I know this is a great way to save money when traveling, especially for larger families.
My sister-in-law recently booked a bunch of Air B&B’s across Europe & saved their family of 6 a ton of money by doing so.
9. Bring & Cook Your Own Food
Whether you choose to stay in a house or condo with a kitchen or are planning on spending your days at the beach or in a theme park, a great way to save money is to bring your own food with you.
You could bring everything with you from home or go grocery shopping as soon as you arrive at your destination for just the essentials you need for your stay.
10. Make a Plan
Once you know where you are going, how you are getting there, where you are staying, & what your food plans are you can make a detailed list of all of your expenses.
You can make sure that everything is within budget & if you have anything extra for splurging on souvenirs or a late night ice cream run while on vacation.
I recommend keeping the list on your phone so that you can make adjustments as needed.
So say you have $50 set aside for dinner out one night & you only spend $30, you can save that extra $20 for a future vacation or split it up between other meals for the rest of your trip.
Plus it’s always nice to have your plan on hand to make sure you are staying on budget so you can relax & enjoy your well planned out debt free vacation!
What are some of your tips for staying out of debt while traveling?
I’d love to hear from you!
Feel free to comment below, email me, or tweet me on Twitter.
With love, G
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.