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Saving Money on Vacation

by Mike

Summer is almost over but we’re about to embark on a last minute trip to the New Jersey shore town of Wildwood Crest.  Fortunately, it looks like the hotel where we’ll be staying made it through Hurricane Irene in one piece!

Family vacations can get expensive very quickly so I figured I’d share a few tips for getting the most bang for your buck.

Eat in.  From past experience, I know that most of the restaurants in the area are pretty expensive.  So we are staying in a room with a stove and oven so we can eat in at least a few nights.  It’s easy enough to whip up some pasta and sauce and enjoy a cheap meal before heading to the boardwalk for games and rides.  Plus, the hotel has a big grill near the pool so we can fire up some burgers and dogs one night too!

 Go easy on the rides.  My kids loooove going on rides, but if you’re not careful you can spend your whole vacation budget on the Himalaya and the Tilt-A-Whirl.  And in Wildwood, you have to fork over tickets for each individual ride (unlike Hershey Park where you buy admission for the day and can go on as many rides as you want).  Since tickets tend to go quickly you need to pace yourself and find other ways to distract the kids.

Find free or inexpensive diversions.  The beach in Wildwood Crest is free so that’s a good chunk of the day taken care of right there.  But there are other ways to kill some time without breaking your wallet.  If we bring the kid’s bikes we can let the go for a ride while we stroll up and down the bike path.  There’s also a nearby park with swings, slides, and monkey bars to keep the kids occupied.  Another option is to take a short drive into neighboring Cape May and walk around the shops and cafes.

What other simple tips do you have for saving money on a family vacation?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents

Unless you are willing to eat dollar meals at McDonalds, you probably need to economize while traveling. Breakfast is an easy one to eat in. A little cereal goes a long way. Taking a sandwich or making one is probably less than some of the convenient places near venues. I reserve one meal out at a reasonably priced restaurant.

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

We tend to shop at grocery stores and local markets for our meals when we travel. Not only do we get to try some local recipes but we also save a ton of money.

We also try to use our legs as much as we can and walk everywhere. This keeps our health in check and saves us money on taxis etc.

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Stay with friends and family. Great way to catch up with people and save on room and board.

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Daniel

I read once that the only thing kids remember about a vacation is the pool. Thus, you could cut a lot of costs like eating out or the rides…if the hotel has a great pool.

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Mike

Hey DanieI, how are you? I don’t think that applies to my kids. They do love the pool, but the beach and the rides are a blast for them too.

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Penny Frugalista

The Himalaya and Tilt-O-Whirl were (and still are) two of my fave rides down there. We usually go to the Crest every year, but skipped it this year because Baby Frugalista is still too little. We get the efficiency rooms, too, and bring a bunch of food instead of going out or getting take-out. Enjoy your vacation!

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Mike

Thanks Penny! We had a great time!

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The One Income Dollar

To save extra I use our points on our reward cards that we have accumulated during the year- from gas to hotels.
I also ask for gift cards during birthdays and Christmas, so that I can use them on my next vacation.
Stay at hotels that offer free continental breakfast and shuttle services if you don’t have a car.
We also pick up food for snacks, drinks, etc., at a local supermarket rather than at the gas station.

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Daniel

Thanks for the tips! I just recently discovered another great way to save money. We swapped our house with another family. I found this website called Barterquest.com which allows you to trade anything for anything. We didn’t spend anything for a week in a great house in Florida. Definitely recommendable!

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Mike

That’s a great idea Daniel. Of course the key is that both parties live near a vacation destination.

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