How to Take a Vacation on a Budget without Breaking the Bank

Vacation on a BudgetThe following is a post by David Bosier, a personal finance and money saving enthusiast with a background in the S&L industry.  If you would like to write for My Money Design, please feel free to contact me. 

There’s nothing better than getting ready to go vacation.

Soon you’ll have nothing to do but relax, play, eat, sleep, and explore.

If you haven’t taken one in a long time, I can guess the reason why: Money!  Hotels and airfare can add up really quickly.  However, little do people know that it is actually pretty easy to take a vacation on a budget without spending an arm and leg.  The trick is all in knowing where to find all those great extras and then using them to your advantage.


How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget:

Book Off Season. 

Traveling is very cyclical, and the big hotels and airlines know this.  To keep a steady stream of income flowing, a lot of them will discount the prices of rooms and tickets just to fill their capacity and keep the revenue incoming.  This can be particularly useful to you if you’re willing to travel during times of the year when other people may not.  For example a colleague of my wife likes to brag about how they go to Disney every year for a fraction of the normal cost because they do it around Thanksgiving time.

Maximize Your Credit Card Offers.

Do you have a credit card?  If you do, I certainly hope it’s a rewards credit card that applies money towards your next vacation every time you buy something!

Unlike regular cash-back credit cards, travel rewards cards can often get you a better percentage back per dollar towards something you can actually use such as your plane ticket or resort cost.

Another thing you can do is take advantage of cards that offer great introductory prizes when you first sign-up.  Get enough of these, and you could get two free plane tickets.  Just watch out to make sure that the cards you’re signing up for don’t have any astronomical fees.

Compare Lots of Travel Sites. 

The Internet has completely revolutionized the way you find great deals on planning a vacation.  Gone are the days when you had to wait for a travel agent to call you with a quote.  Now you can compare plane ticket costs along with a variety of other factors so that you can figure out what day is really the best time to go.

For example when I plan my trip to Mexico, one of the first things I’ll do is look up the plane ticket cost alone.  Often it can vary from as low as $500 to as high as $1,500 per person!  Once I select the right low-priced option, I then search for resort options across a variety of different brokers: Expedia, Travelocity, Book It, etc.  Whichever one has the best package is the one I end up going with!

Think Direct.

Have you ever went to eBay and typed in “time share”?  If you did, you know what you’d find?  A whole ton of people trying to sell their time-share spots.  Why are they doing this?  For any number of reasons – they are too busy, can’t afford it this year, would rather go someplace else, etc.

All of this equals a terrific bargain for you!  Because you’d like to go there and they need to unload this spot, more than likely you’ll be able to pick up a nice two-bedroom suite for a lot less than the price of a hotel (with a smaller room!)

Try All-Inclusive.

vacation on a budgetWhy bother spending a whole bunch of money on food, drinks, entertainment, etc?  Do you want to know where to find the ultimate vacation on a budget for all one low price?  Think all-inclusive.

All-inclusive resorts are great because they take care of everything for you for one price.  Everything from your food to drinks to shows to whatever is free!

If you haven’t ever tried going to Mexico or the Caribbean for vacation, look one up and compare the rates to some place similar (such as Hawaii).  I think you’ll find the all-inclusive prices to be very, very attractive.


The Cost of Not Taking a Vacation:

A lot of people think they are saving money by not going on a vacation, but this isn’t necessarily true.  Psychologically and emotionally it can do for your well-being and relationship to plan exciting getaways as a couple or family.  Vacations are where people have fun, laugh, and enjoy themselves.  It’s where memories are made and good times are photographed.

After all the hard work you put into your career and responsibilities, don’t you owe it to yourself?


Images courtesy of


  1. says

    I also believe in the importance of a vacation in order to create fun memories and unwind from all the worries and hard work we always do every single day. What I usually do is that I plan months ahead and look for best deals like airfare and hotel promos. You get to save a lot if you plan things ahead of time.

  2. Joe Bean says

    Honestly, I don’t like vacationing as travel is expensive and stressful. I’d much rather sit I’m my garden (for which I paid a fortune) with a beer in hand, and for for the occasional walk with my wife and son. We also only travel because they like it :)

    • says

      To each his own.

      If your experience is that travel is stressful, why not travel someplace different that is potentially less stressful?

    • says

      Having gone on a few trips now to Mexico and the Caribbean, I can assure you – they are 100% incredible! No worries! I used to wonder what all the excitement was about and now I know. Now I won’t do anything but all-inclusive.

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