This post is somewhat inspired by Mustard Seed Money’s excellent post on budgeting for vacation. We’re about 40 days into the new year and I’m already planning my first vacation! I have a few ideas planned and some are farther in the works. I typically like to travel at least half a dozen times a year (mostly in North America) and doing so on a budget requires a little creativity. So I’ll be going over my four easy ways to save money on vacation.
Why Go On Vacation
Let’s first talk about why we need vacations. It’s not just to have fun and let off a little steam, but they’re great for networking, personal development, and much more.
I typically travel a little more than half a dozen times a year (not counting visiting family). One of my favorite (and geeky/nerdy, whatever you want to call it) reasons to travel is to actually attend annual shareholder meetings. I’ve been to a few great ones, including hearing Charlie Munger speak in person!
I like to turn these annual meeting trips into a mini vacation and explore the city. It’s a ton of fun to just wander around and be free.
Alright, so I have a few things in the works for my vacations in 2017. I have confirmed two vacations and booked the flights for one of them:
I usually go to Toronto once a year for an annual meeting. I love the city (at least in the Summer). It is very beautiful, cultured, and there’s lots of things to do. This year I’m actually meeting up with a friend as well and have planned a little sightseeing. On the list is Casa Loma of course (even though I’ve already been there). And we’ll likely rent a car and drive on over to check out Niagara Falls for a day.
I’m going to Oklahoma City this year (likely May or June) for an annual meeting. I loved it the last time I was there…in fact I remember it very clearly because the Warriors were playing the Thunder at the time! Anyways, I have a few things planned this time. First, I think it would be fun to check out the zoo. It’s much cheaper than the one I have at home.
Second, I would like to check out Bricktown. There was a lot of development in that area last time I was there so I’d love to see what happened with the place.
The meeting is usually in the afternoon (around 3 PM), so ideally I would fly out in the morning and make it on time. Last year, someone from the company actually invited to give me a tour of the city, but unfortunately I had to leave the meeting to catch my flight!
Having Fun On A Budget
Taking vacations doesn’t always have to put a hole in your wallet. I know a lot of people use Airbnb to save money and that’s a great alternative to traditional hotels. Personally, I like to stay in mid-tier hotels. Most hotels have a great rewards program that will give you exclusive/special prices.
One hotel chain I like to stay at is Hampton Inn. The rooms are pretty affordable, clean, and all of them have FREE breakfast! The breakfast varies by region, but it’s typically a combination of pancakes, waffles, eggs, potatoes, sausage, fruit and oatmeal.
There’s actually a Hampton Inn near the office and sometimes I just stroll down and get a bite to eat!
Keep in mind that some hotels offer special packages once in a while to drum up demand. Make sure to read the fine print and see if they have any special offers.
A while ago I stayed at the Sheraton in Dallas for a meeting. The room (near the airport) was surprisingly cheap (less than $90 a night) and it came with free breakfast! The food was good and was a $20 value based on the check they gave me.
Sleep In A Dorm
I have a confession to make. Last year, I waited until the last minute to book a hotel for my stay in Toronto. I had planned on staying in the downtown area, but all of the decent hotels didn’t have rooms left for me. Who knew Toronto was such a hot summer tourist destination 🙂
Anyways, I somehow found out that the University of Toronto rented out their dorm rooms while students were gone for the summer. It was dirty cheap too…I got a room for $38 Canadian a night! It was hard to pass up that offer. They actually gave me a fairly spacious dorm room!
Plus, it brought back some nice memories from my college days. If you’re traveling in the summer and don’t mind staying in a college dorm, consider checking out if the local university has any rooms available! You’ll likely be able to get something for a cheap rate.
A great way to have fun on vacation is to go visit museums and other historical landmarks. These places are generally pretty cheap (less than $15 a person) and you can have a lot of fun exploring. Also, most museums will run deals throughout the month or even offer free admissions.
One thing I like to do when I’m on vacation is go for a hike somewhere or just walk around the city. Its very soothing just wandering around without a care and enjoying the scenery. The beach is also a favorite destination of mine. Plus, you don’t pay a dime for any of these activities 🙂
Who knows, you might stumble onto some pretty cool places.
Going on vacation or just exploring is a great way to let off some steam and have fun. It always gets my blood pumping just thinking about it.
Readers, what vacations do you have coming up? Any cool tips on how to save money? Let me know in the comments!
Related: Check out my post on how to save time and money at the airport (including getting FREE wifi on Delta flights!)