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How to Take A Summer Vacation Without Breaking the Bank

by:
Connie Cossio

Summertime and the livin’ is easy! Well, for some of us that is. For Canadians struggling financially, the pressure to take a vacation can be overwhelming, and can conflict with the need to cut back on expenses. That’s why, according to a recent CIBC survey, vacationing is low on the list of financial goals for Canadians, while paying off debt remains a priority. For those who are planning a getaway, however, there are a few ways to enjoy a summer vacation without breaking the bank (because a week or so of fun isn’t worth the stress of years of debt).

Here are 10 ways you can make memories without maxing out the credit card.

1. Set Price Alerts

This is an easy one that’s often overlooked. If you’re searching for flights or hotels but finding the rates a bit too steep, set an email price alert (this is especially useful on aggregator sites like Hotels.com or Kayak). Most sites even let you specify when you’d like to be notified (for example, when a fare drops at least 15%).

2. Surf the Web in Private

When you’re online in private or incognito mode, your browser doesn’t collect cookies (data that identifies the sites you visit). Some travel sites use these cookies to see what you’re searching for, and then raise prices on particular hotels, itineraries, or dates. Don’t let them break your budget—go private!

3. Use Airbnb

Rather than stay in a cramped hotel room, Airbnb lets you lease or rent short-term lodging through a worldwide network of brokers. There are currently five million lodging listings in 81,000 cities and 191 countries, including everything from guest rooms to holiday cottages and beach cabins. Often, you can find a place for less than a traditional hotel, plus more amenities. Many hosts are very friendly, and are more than willing to suggest things to do and sites to see.

4. Consider Camping

Avoid lodging altogether and instead take in the natural beauty of our country by going camping. Huffington Post Canada reveals that in order to appeal to urban dwellers, many camping locations have increased access to amenities and made the experience more social (they also published a list of the 30 Best Places to Camp in Canada). If you have gear, or can borrow gear, this can be a fun and affordable getaway!

5. Go Where Kids Stay or Eat Free

Some parents naturally keep an eye out for these deals, but others often forget. At some properties, like Holiday Inn, kids stay and eat free. This can offer great savings for families on a budget.

6. Take a Bus

It may not seem like the most glamorous way to travel, but many bus lines traveling long distance have upped their game—more comfortable seats, extra legroom, free wifi, and more. Overnight travel is also a money-saving win-win: you don’t have to pay for a hotel, and you get a few hours of shuteye!

7. Get a Place With a Kitchen

Eating in is almost always cheaper than dining out. So even if it costs a bit extra to rent a room with a small kitchen, the savings can be great. If you’re considering Airbnb and renting a room only, check with the host to confirm if you’ll have access to the kitchen, as some may not allow this.

8. Dine Out at Lunch, Not Dinner

Of course you don’t want to always eat in your room; part of joy of vacationing is trying out new restaurants. But lunch is almost always cheaper than dinner, so consider getting your share of local fare by dining with the lunchtime crowd (and eating in for most of your dinners). You can also usually save by avoiding the restaurants on the main drag in any tourist area (plus, “eating where the locals do” offers a more authentic experience).

9. Carry a Reusable Water Bottle

Vacationing often involves a lot of walking—and most of it outdoors. Rather than dropping loonies left and right on expensive bottled waters (this can get especially expensive when you’ve got kids in tow), carry reusable water bottles or even just an empty water bottle that can easily be filled up at drinking fountains.

10. Rent a Bike

The cost of public transportation and ridesharing can add up. Instead, cities and vacation towns often have bike rentals available which is an inexpensive and healthy alternative (and allows you to cover more ground than just hoofing it).

These are just a few ideas to get you started—of course, you can always take a staycation to save even more. Have some money-saving vacation tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments. Now get out there and enjoy the sun—and saving!

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Topics: Money Management, Budgeting, Saving Money, tips for saving money, vacation planning

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