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17 Insider Tips to Enjoy a Debt-Free Vacation

If you go on a trip this summer without making a budget, your money will disappear faster than a sandcastle at high tide. To help you make great memories without going into debt, we asked the Ramsey Baby Steps Community on Facebook to share how they saved cash while enjoying a work-free week of debt-free bliss. Here are the top 17 money-saving tips:

1. Save a little each week.

“I did the $1 savings jar: Week one, save $1; week two, save $2; and so on. After a full year, you’ll have over $1,300 saved! It’s such a minimal increase, you don’t notice it. Just fit it into your zero-based budget!” — Keri B.

2. Go all-inclusive.

“We like to book a cruise or an all-inclusive resort so we know exactly how much we need and there are no surprises. We plan ahead for tipping and usually spend no more than $50 on extras.” — Sarah C.

3. Vacation when the kids are away.

“We planned our vacation while the kids were at summer camp. We went away for five days to refresh and do what we love: hiking and floating down the river. We paid cash for the entire trip and spent less than $800.” — Jennifer W.

4. Speak to a real person.

“Make reservations in advance and check for online deals. But before you book, call a representative to see if they can find you something even better. We booked our suite so far in advance that half the nights were only $4!” — Courtney W.

5. Don’t rent the first place you see.

“Ask around. We stayed at a condo owned by a friend of a friend and got a good deal. We paid much less than if we had simply rented the first condo we saw.” — John H.

Bonus tip: When it comes to lodging, you’ve got options. Be sure to check out rental spaces like Airbnb and hotels to save money. Both have benefits and pretty competitive prices these days!

6. Shop Black Friday.

“We always book the next year’s vacation on Black Friday. Lots of times they run good discounts on Black Friday only.” — Lori B.

7. Bundle your travel.

“We went to Boston for seven days and saved over $500 by booking our hotel and airfare together instead of purchasing them separately.” — Travis C.

8. Plan with envelopes.

“I took my nephew on a graduation trip to Japan for 18 days. I saved for a year and used the envelope system. I had an envelope for flights, tours and daily spending. We also had an envelope for each day of our vacation, and that’s all we would spend.” — Kimberly H.

Related: It’s true! You can travel without a credit card.

9. Start a sinking fund to save.

“Plan way ahead and start a sinking fund for it.” — Maria C.

Bonus tip: A sinking fund is a way to save for big expenses by setting aside money each month. And it’s super easy to set one up for your next vacation when you budget with EveryDollar!

10. Make wise hotel and flight choices.

“I just booked a trip with my kids! 1) I booked a hotel with an airport shuttle. 2) I booked a hotel with free breakfast and a kitchen in the hotel room (so ideally we’ll do zero meals out). 3) I got creative with our flight times and airports and booked the cheapest dates. 4) I booked a hotel with a pool. That will be our main entertainment besides walking around downtown.” — Natalie J.

11. Plan your meals.

“We usually hit up a grocery store once we get to our location for some food we can keep in the hotel, like sandwich stuff. We make at least one meal a day (ideally the hotel will have breakfast) so we budget one meal out a day. We save a ton.” —  Casey S.

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Every savings goal starts with a budget. Create yours today with EveryDollar.

Bonus tip: Don't blow your vacation money by paying restaurant prices every time you eat. This travel hack will help you waste less food and get more bang for your vacay buck.

12. Eat out early.

“We would eat an early dinner, get the specials, and beat the crowd. The best part was we had the beach to ourselves for sunset because everyone was waiting to eat at the restaurants.” — Richie H.

13. Take a staycation.

“We’re paying off major medical bills so we decided to stay home. We still had a vacation—just locally. We visited an arts center, saw an opera, and attended local events for little or no money. And eating a picnic at a park was fun and intimate.” — Rask B.

14. Research everything.

"Research! I started looking at everything a few months in advance so I knew what I wanted to see, how much I needed in cash to do things, where all the great free things are, and what to avoid." Becca P.

15. Check prices—even after you book.

“If flying Southwest (which I always recommend), check back on the prices. You can go to your flight, click Change Flight, and if your flight went down in price, you'll see it says something like -$50. You can just click to rebook the same flight, and they'll credit you the difference. I do it once a week leading up to a trip.” Carolyn R.

16. Visit someone you know.

“Go visit that one friend or family member who lives in a cool place and keeps saying you should come visit. They aren't kidding! You get a free place to stay, and you'll probably want to spend part of your time relaxing and catching up rather than going out and spending money.” — Hannah A.

17. Plan ahead.

"Plan, plan, plan and then plan above what you will need. Things always come up beyond what is expected." — Coach W.

Bonus tip: The earlier you start planning, the easier it is to save up for your vacation so you can pay for it all. In cash. Remember to use EveryDollar to set up that vacation sinking fund and budget for all your expenses along the way.

Hey, whether you’re taking a family of six to the beach or planning a European getaway for two, figure out how much of a getaway you can actually afford.

And hear this: You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone, and quality time doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Feel free to stay off social media during the planning and partying so you can be in the moment and out of the comparison traps.

Let’s do this. It’s time to get your budget ready so you can enjoy your vacation (and your life) debt-free!

Budget for Your Vacation . . .

And everything else! Get started for free today with EveryDollar.

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Ramsey Solutions

About the author


Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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