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21 Frugal Ideas to Book Your Next Vacation For Less Money

Booking a vacation doesn’t have to break the bank to make it a blast. At Top Dollar, we’ve put together clever ideas to cut the costs, without sacrificing relaxation or fun. Check out some of our ideas- like opting for off-peak travel times or lesser-known destinations, which will make your next getaway both memorable and budget-friendly.

Choose Off-Peak Travel Times

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Traveling during off-peak seasons can significantly reduce costs. Airlines and hotels offer lower rates to attract tourists during quieter periods. You’ll not only save money but also enjoy attractions with fewer crowds. An online commenter says, “I saved hundreds by visiting Europe in the fall instead of summer!”

Book in Advance

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Securing flights and accommodations well in advance can lead to substantial savings. Airlines and hotels typically increase prices closer to the date. Early booking also means more choices in terms of flights and rooms. This strategy requires planning but pays off in the long run.

Use Public Transportation

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Young smiling woman traveling public bus city Drazen Zigic Shutterstock

Ditch expensive taxis and rental cars for public transportation. Buses, trains, and subways are cheaper and offer a local experience. This approach also helps you avoid parking fees and fuel costs. As one commenter said, “Using the metro in Paris saved me a bundle and was super easy!”

Opt for Lesser-Known Destinations

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Explore less popular destinations for a unique and budget-friendly vacation. These places often have lower costs for food, lodging, and activities. You’ll discover hidden gems while avoiding tourist traps. This approach can lead to unexpected and memorable experiences.

Pack Smart to Avoid Extra Fees

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Avoiding checked baggage fees can save a significant amount. Pack light and use carry-on luggage whenever possible. This strategy also makes traveling more convenient and reduces waiting time at airports. Remember, airlines have different size and weight restrictions for carry-on bags.

Stay in Alternative Accommodations

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Consider vacation rentals, hostels, or bed and breakfasts instead of hotels. These alternatives often provide better value and more space. You might also get access to a kitchen, which can save on meal costs. As one traveler notes, “Staying in a rental was not only cheaper but gave us a cozy, home-like feel.”

Cook Your Meals

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image credit: MilanMarkovic78/Shutterstock

Eating out can be expensive, especially in tourist areas. Opting to cook some of your meals can drastically reduce food expenses. Local markets offer fresh, affordable ingredients and a chance to try local flavors. Plus, cooking can be a fun and rewarding part of the travel experience.

Look for Free Activities

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image credit: Yuri A/Shutterstock

Many destinations offer free attractions and activities, like museums, walking tours, and parks. These experiences can be just as enriching as paid attractions. Exploring on foot also gives you a deeper connection to a place.

Use Discount Cards and Coupons

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Discount cards for tourists can offer savings on attractions, dining, and transport. Look for city passes or museum cards. Coupons for restaurants and activities cut costs. One frequent traveler says, “The city pass I bought saved me over 50% on attractions!”

Travel in a Group

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Group travel can reduce costs significantly. Sharing accommodations, transportation, and meals lowers the price per person. Plus, many attractions offer group discounts and add a social aspect to your vacation.

Use Reward Points and Miles

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If you have accumulated airline miles or credit card rewards, use them. Redeeming points can cover flights, hotels, or car rentals. Be aware of expiration dates and restrictions. This strategy can turn rewards into real savings.

Avoid Tourist Traps

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Tourist traps are often overpriced and underwhelming. Doing research and talking to locals can help you avoid them. Instead, seek authentic experiences that are more rewarding and less expensive and lead to a more genuine understanding of the culture.

Flexible Flight Dates

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image credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Being flexible with your travel dates can lead to cheaper flights. Mid-week flights are often less expensive than weekend flights. Use comparison websites to find the best deals. Flexibility can sometimes mean unexpected savings, as one shopper said, “Shifting my flight by one day cut the cost in half!”

Walk or Bike Instead of Drive

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Walking or biking is not only free but also healthy. Many cities are very walkable, and some offer cheap bike rental services. This mode of transportation allows you to see things you might miss in a car. Plus, it’s an eco-friendly choice.

Use a Prepaid SIM Card for Data

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Avoid expensive international roaming charges by using a prepaid SIM card. This option is much cheaper and offers sufficient data for your needs. You can purchase these SIM cards at airports or local stores. Staying connected doesn’t have to break the bank.

Visit Local Markets

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Local markets are a treasure trove for affordable shopping. They often have unique items and souvenirs at lower prices than tourist shops. Markets also offer a glimpse into the local culture and cuisine. As one commenter said, “I found the best souvenirs and snacks at a fraction of the price at local markets.”

Travel Light to Avoid Shopping

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Traveling light encourages you not to buy too many souvenirs or unnecessary items. This mindset helps you focus on experiences rather than material things. It also saves you from excess baggage fees on your return journey. A minimalist approach can be liberating and economical.

Stay Outside Major Tourist Areas

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Accommodations just outside major tourist areas are often cheaper. These locations can still be conveniently close to major attractions. Staying a bit further away can also provide a more authentic local experience, offering a better value for your money.

Use Cash Wisely

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Using cash can help you avoid foreign transaction fees on credit cards. It also makes it easier to track your spending. However, be aware of exchange rates and carry only what you need for safety. Budgeting with cash can lead to more mindful spending.

Research Local Transportation Passes

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Many cities offer tourist transportation passes, providing unlimited travel for a set period. These passes can be more cost-effective than paying for each trip. They also make it easier to explore extensively. Investing in a pass can be a smart move for extensive sightseeing.

Travel Insurance

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While it might seem like an extra cost, travel insurance can save you money in the long run. It covers unexpected events like trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. Avoiding these potential costs can make insurance a wise investment.

Josh Dudick

Josh is a financial expert with over 15 years of experience on Wall Street as a senior market strategist and trader. His career has spanned from working on the New York Stock Exchange floor to investment management and portfolio trading at Citibank, Chicago Trading Company, and Flow Traders.

Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business. He has held multiple professional licenses during his career, including FINRA Series 3, 7, 24, 55, Nasdaq OMX, Xetra & Eurex (German), and SIX (Swiss) trading licenses. Josh served as a senior trader and strategist, business partner, and head of futures in his former roles on Wall Street.

Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently holds areas of expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.

Josh currently runs a wealth management business and investment firm. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Top Dollar, where he teaches others how to build 6-figure passive income with smart money strategies that he uses professionally.