5 Clever Ways to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation

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Planning an upcoming vacation?

If you’re looking for ways to save money on airfare, lodging, entertainment, dining out and more, we’re here to hook you up with our favorite travel tips!

1.) Book airline tickets 7 weeks in advance.

Does the time of day you buy your flight really matter? For years, travel experts suggested booking plane tickets on Tuesdays because that was when the airlines released their cheapest seats. However, that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, it’s not just the day of the week but the number of days before your trip that should determine when you book your airline reservations.

Travel analysts now suggest that Thursday is the best day of the week to buy airline tickets, but there’s really no guarantee that flights will be cheaper on this day (scope out the tickets on Thursdays first but don’t expect rock bottom prices). The most expensive day to buy flights? Sunday.

In general, you’ll get the best deal if you book your plane ticket approximately seven weeks before your desired departure date (eight weeks out from your departure date if flying internationally).

⭐ Check out the links at the bottom of this post to save on airline reservations!

2. Download hotel apps for incredible deals.

If you’re looking to book a hotel room without spending a lot out of pocket, download free apps like Hotel Tonight or Hotels.com that allow you to book highly rated hotels at amazing last-minute rates… a win-win! When hotels have unsold rooms, they’re loaded onto the app, which allows YOU to book those rooms at incredibly low rates for tonight, tomorrow, or next week.

⭐ Check out the links at the bottom of this post to save on hotel reservations!

3.) Discover your credit card member perks.

If you’re a cardholder, check out the discounts and rewards associated with your credit card company before booking a vacation. Several credit cards offer rewards like free flights, discounted hotel stays, and more. Check out this article for a list of the best travel credit cards.

Also, select banks offer entertainment perks for cardholders. For example, during the first full weekend of each month, Bank of America’s Museums on Us program offers cardholders free admission to 150+ museums in 31 states with a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card.

Planning a Disney vacation? Check out this helpful post for tips and tricks from other cardholders and read how they saved on their vacations by using their Disney VISA card.

4.) Buy restaurant coupons and entertainment books.

To save on dining out, or for vacation entertainment, consider buying a few Restaurant.com Gift Certificates or an Entertainment Book for your vacation destination.

An Entertainment Book comes filled with money saving coupons featuring local restaurants, entertainment and retail spots, grocery stores, and more. You can even plan ahead by grabbing a few books when a sale pops up!

Restaurant.com provides great deals for thousands of restaurants across the country. However, be sure to read the restaurant’s special instructions before purchasing a certificate (many restaurants require a minimum purchase, an 18% gratuity prior to the certificate being applied, may be valid for food or dinner only – or may only apply to select days).

5.) Watch for offers on deal sites.

Be sure to sign up for daily deals from sites like Groupon and LivingSocial for the city that you’re traveling to, so you can see which restaurants are available in the area – along with entertainment ideas for the family, hotel packages, and more! Plus, consider purchasing a few deals whenever there’s a discount code available and you’ll save even more.

Try these other popular sites to save on travel:

  • Booking Buddy
    • Search for your favorite travel websites with fewer clicks and in less time! Save on hotels, vacation packages, cruises, flights, cars, and more – up to 80% off!
  • Booking.com
    • Get big savings on hotels in 85,000 destinations worldwide. Browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.
  • CheapAir.com
    • Search cheap airline tickets and book discount airfares and air tickets, including cheap last minute fares.
  • Costco Travel
    • Costco Travel offers everyday savings on top-quality, brand-name vacations, hotels, cruises, and rental cars, exclusively for Costco members.
  • Dunhill Travel Deals
    • Save up to 70% on hotels, cruises, vacations, airfare, and more!
  • Expedia (and Expedia Disney Vacation Packages)
    • Buy discounted airline tickets, read reviews, reserve a hotel, and find deals on vacations, rental cars, and cruises with great prices guaranteed!
  • HotWire
    • Search more than 173,000 hotels throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia, and find last minute travel deals!
    • Search other travel sites all in one spot and find the best deals on flights, hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages.
  • Orbitz
    • Save on hotelsflightscar rentalscruisesvacation packages, and destination activities!
  • Priceline
    • Find deep discounts on hotels, flights, and rental cars.
  • Rue La La
    • Search for various travel deals worldwide. Each day, they offer different Boutiques filled with the best in travel, fashion, home, kids, and more.
  • Sky Scanner
    • Skyscanner’s free flight search tool will help you locate cheap flights and flight deals with popular airlines like American, Delta, Southwest, Frontier, Allegiant Air, Volaris, and United Airlines.
  • Shermans Travel
    • Save up to 70% off of travel deals worldwide!
  • Travelocity
    • Search over 400 airlines and more than 321,000 hotels worldwide, plus more.
  • TripAdvisor
    • Search the world’s largest travel site with over 200 million+ unbiased traveler reviews and over 200+ sites to find the best hotel prices.

Note that travel agents are useful if you’re planning a costly or complex trip, a honeymoon, or traveling with a large group. Travel agents have access to a large database of deals and bulk buying options, especially when it comes to tours, high-end flights, and cruises.

Happy traveling! 😀

How do YOU save on travel?

Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off Jesus, running long distance, bargain shopping, warm Texas weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She also loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.

Join The Discussion

Comments 55

  1. Kate

    Thanks for the tips! Gonna go checkout groupon right now for any Washington DC deals for our vacation.

  2. Morna

    CheapCaribbean.com is a good deal site for, no surprise, the Caribbean.

  3. ashley

    We love our disney visa….well worth it for the private meet and greet and they offer .$200 sign up bonus and no annual fee. If anybody wants info on it email me 🙂 chiquitta0407@ yahoo.com

    • Keala

      I think I’m signing up for Disney Card, going next month to Disney World

  4. Bunny

    My sister-in-law believes that renting a car through Costco is the best deal around. Haven’t checked it out myself, but plan to on our next big trip!

    Thanks for all the wonderful travel money saving tips Collin! <3

    • CO Mama

      Costco Car Rental is amazing!! Yes it is a deal😊

    • Jodi

      I will second this. Costco has great car rental rates.

    • Laura

      Depends. I have often found much better deals with AAA discount. Need to check each and every time because they are not always the best. Thrifty and Dollar will often offer much cheaper (I have paid as little as $14 per day so cheaper than Uber) deals than Costco does.

      • Erica

        Budget too. Got a car for 5 days for $81 all in! All others were over $200. I was worried it was a misprint, but it wasn’t. Score!

  5. Nicole

    Does anyone know a good way to find last minute vacation deals if you don’t care where you’re going? I’ve never seen one that searches by your departure city and dates, and they usually require you to choose a destination in order to see prices and options.

    • Hayley

      Try Skyscanner.com you can choose ‘anywhere’ as your destination. I love that site for checking flights.

    • Melody

      You definitely need to check out NextVacay – exactly what you’re looking for and not just last minute deals.

    • Melanie T


  6. clara

    I am booking a flight soon to vegas and I found that Spirit is the cheapest. Ive heard horrible things about them… are they really THAT bad? I flew delta and they were TERRIBLE. I waited hours for my bags, missed my flight because I was in the back of the plane and they let everybody else off first before the people who had 20 mins to make their flight… it was a disaster. Opinions on spirit? I’m worried because I heard the seats were small and I’m kind of fat. about 215. Can I make it work?

    • Rachel Pride

      Spirit is horrible. If you don’t need to get to Vegas that day, then you can do it. But if they cancel a flight, they don’t code share with other airlines and you could be there for 2 days waiting on a new flight. They also are cheap up front, but you have to pay for EVERYTHING. Seats, bags, carry ons, no food or drinks on board, if you don’t print your boarding pass at home, it costs money at the airport etc. So check the fees plus the airfare cost. then compare it to other airlines.

    • Michelle

      Your post made me laugh… I always use allegiant when I fly to Vegas… they offer really cheap package deals… I’m definitely fat 300 and I fit in their seats fine… lol😜😜

    • Crystal

      As long as you know Spirit is a no frills airline and everything is separate you will be fine. The seats were fine. You don’t get any free snacks or drinks. You do have to pay for those. It is worth it to be a fare club member to save on flights and baggage. Our family of 4 flew Spirit and we had a very pleasant experience both ways. I would recommend then

    • ds

      yes the seats on spirit are on the smaller side not a lot of leg room either. very cheap but no thrills. We always take spirit airlines because we find it the cheapest

      • ds


    • Jill

      I just flew on American Airlines and I’m 300lbs and I fit in there seats comfortably. I looked into spirit and the tickets are cheap but u have to pay for a dang carry on and to check a bag was expensive. Check Priceline.com. I booked a round trip non stop both ways for only 97.00!! To go to Dallas tx from Orlando

    • Dayna

      I have used them many times with no problems. Just factor in the fees for bags and such as you need them. We saved $3000 on a family trip last year with Spirit over anyone else.

    • Charlotte

      we usually fly Spirit and have never had an issue. We are well aware that they are a budget airline and we don’t expect perks. If our flight is 2 hours or less, we manage in the standard seats. If we are flying longer than 2 hours, we pay extra for the “big seat” in the first 2 or 3 rows. We pack accordingly because they do charge for carry-ons and for checked bags. However, a personal item (up to backpack size) is free. I place a small purse into a backpack and can fit clothing in for about 4 days. My daughter packs for a full week in a backpack. When the two of us flew cross-country for about a week, we each took our personal backpack (no charge), and then one checked bag for the two of us. We have had excellent flight attendants on all our flights with Spirit, and have never had serious delays. Like I said though, we don’t expect perks, we know it’s a budget airline (and we bring our own food and water on the flight), we just prefer to spend our money on our destination, and not as much on getting there.

  7. Ph

    Jetblue has last minute vacation. Costco travel is good when trying to compare prices. Rental cars thru Costco can be cancelled if the price goes down which they do at times. Once you make the reservation check back from time to time

  8. D Lynn

    Does anyone know how to find the best 55+ age camping sites in Florida? I know that most of the viewers for H2S are probably much younger than that but thought I would ask since someone might have parents that might camp in FL.

    • Rebecca

      We live in NW FL & there are some nice areas around here. If you search “camping in FL Panhandle”, you should find several. Hth!

  9. Lisa

    I go 2 time share previews. Stay in hotels free. I got 8 days blue green $250 for double suite. 8 days wyndham free. Hilton…mariott…u have 2 resort areas.

    • jorriem

      Lisa, would you share the contact numbers for the previews? Especially Hilton!

    • T

      I would like more info, please!!

  10. Malinda

    Go City Cards provide admission to multiple attractions for one low price in a particular area. We used to use the Go Blue Ridge card for the Smoky Mountains. The card paid for itself on the price of admission to Biltmore Estate alone! Sadly, they discontinued that area, but several other areas are available. The website is smartdestiations.com

  11. jen

    Does sky scanner really include southwest? I didn’t think they were in any flight search engines.

    • lenin1991

      It does … but the fares are from somewhat-questionable third-party bookers at a markup, not Southwest itself.

  12. Rebecca

    Our local airport is small & my parents closest airport is even smaller…rates never drop very low. But we’ve actually found the cheapest rates usually a month out from your travel date. What I advise for hotel shopping, find one you like and can afford (look at Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline, etc). Then hop on RetailMeNot & look for discount codes for those specific sites. You may have to try a few on each site to find one that works, but worth it. I almost always save $100+ doing this. You can also get extra savings downloading their apps. Also, call the actual hotel & see if they can beat your best price before you book online, they often can.

    • Rebecca

      Oh also Allegiant flights don’t show up on travel sites, you have to look at their actual site. I have not flown with them yet but they seem to have some nice deals(limited destinations though).

  13. june

    We recently went on our first Disney vacation. I have been selling clothes and home made baby bows on mercari. When I get $95 i transfer it into my account and then purchase a $100 gift card through target. I have $1200 in disney gift cards since January. All by selling things we no
    longer need. My mercari code is PAXYCU if you wan t to join. I’ll get $2 and you’ll get $10.

  14. Melissa

    Once you have already booked a hotel or car rental keep checking the rates! Most of the time, as your travel dates get closer, the rates go lower! Just make sure you are within the dates to cancel. Book your new reservation first and then cancel the old reservation! I cannot believe how much money I have saved by checking rates a few times a week! It’s definitely worth the time to check. I also book through ebates or swagbucks for more money back.

  15. Susie

    You dont really have to “buy” coupon books. Find the visitor center for the area you’re visiting. They are always filled with free coupon books. Also, use groupon local for the area you’re planning on visiting. And, set airfare alerts on trip advisor with what you’re willing to pay by location. Trip advisor shoots you an email anytime the airfare drops to or below the $$ you set. I’ve raised some well traveled children on the cheap. 🙂

  16. heather obrien

    Does anyone have any good breaks for Norway, Sweden and Finland?

  17. bmadish

    Check out wow air for international travel! We went to Ireland round trip for 2 for $600 total!!

    • Atargatis

      Wow air is going out of business be careful.

  18. Tara

    Does anyone recommend tips for Atlantis? Would like to take our family of 6 and I have heard it’s quite expensive. Thanks

    • K Sully

      For Atlantis you can stay the hotel across the street and they are cheaper and allow you to use all the amenities of the Atlantis water park. We did this and saved over $450/day! We did this during a Disney cruise. But it worked like a charm. Checked in and out at the same time.

  19. Tara

    Anyone recommend tips for saving on Atlantis? Would like to take our family of 6 and have heard it’s pretty pricey. Thanks

    • Julie

      My family went to Atlantis 14 years ago shortly after a hurricane hit the Bahamas so we got a very good deal of $2,500 for flight and hotel for our family of 4. Unfortunately it runs around $8,000 now. Good luck with finding a way to save money. Only tip I have is to order a pizza and have them deliver it to Atlantis. Parents saw us doing that and was thankful to find a way to save money on food. Warning! Don’t venture out of the tourist areas.

  20. Mandy

    They now have a site where people rent out their cars and they set the terms and rates. Kind of like VRBO for your car, Turo.com. Infinitely cheaper than traditional car rental companies.

    • Thea McG

      I’ve tried to rent through trip twice and both were cancelled, one just hours before. So have a back up plan.

  21. Bridget

    I have found fantastic prices on flights at google.com/flights. You can search for anywhere, a certain state, country, etc. When you click on the calendar it shows rates for every day if you’re flexible.
    Also, the priceline.com credit card has a great rewards program.

  22. Jill

    I booked a flight a week before my vacation to Tx. I used Priceline.com and I got a round trip non stop from Orlando to Dallas for only 96.00!!!

  23. Jess

    Thanks for the helpful posts! We are new parents and every little bit helps! I would like to plan a trip to Disney world right after my daughter’s first birthday. Is a one year old too young for Disney? She LOVES people and attention of course lol.

  24. gee

    I am planning a Thailand trip in January, any good deals? Is it worth it to rent a car?

  25. Alyssa

    In December of 2016 I started travel hacking and now I’m addicted! I took a class through Creative Live called “Make Your Dream Trip a Reality” that teaches you how to accumulate and then use points and miles (through credit card sign-up bonuses, among other things) to book airfare and hotel rooms FREE! So, I gave it a go and my husband and I took a 2.5 week trip to England and the Netherlands last summer. We only paid for 3 nights of hotels and stayed 8 nights in downtown London at a 5 star hotel completely free! And all of our flights were booked with miles, too! I estimated that we saved $7300. There are a lot of great travel hacking blogswebsites to get you started if you’re interested, but some of my favorites are Award Wallet, The Points Guy, Cards for Travel, Travel Hacking Cartel, and View from the Wing. It’s a little tricky to learn at first, but totally worth the effort! My husband and I are both teachers and wouldn’t have been able to go on that trip without travel hacking.

  26. Tricia1785

    I have a Disney Visa and love it. If you spend $500 in the first 3 months you will receive $200 statement credit! This card has no annual fee and you can get a free meet and greet in Epcot and Hollywood Studios as well as discounts at Disney! Please use my link if interested! https://www.referyourchasecard.com/200/H8YI83VAI4

  27. Melody

    I recently discovered NextVacay. For a $25 annual fee i receive emails lettong me know of super great deals from my airport to all sorts of places with a link to the booking page on the airline’s site. We just went to Maui for less than $400 round trip (whaaat!!) and have booked a trip to Ireland for under $500. The dates are not last minute either so there’s plenty of time to plan – so happy I found NextVacay!!!

  28. Matt Goodwill

    We love our Disney Chase card. No annual fee through my referral link and you earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. You get 6 months interest-free financing on Disney Travel purchases. Using Disney reward dollars helps make Disney trips manageable for the budget. If you click on my referral link, I get Disney dollars too! It’s a win-win! I believe if you sign up without the referral, there’s an annual fee. Thanks in advance!!!

    Earn a $200 Disney Gift Card with the Disney® Visa® Card. No annual fee. I can be rewarded, learn more.

  29. Christy Peeples DuBois

    The Rue La La link isn’t working for me. Is it just me?

  30. Tracy

    Travel agents are a great resource too and you could be supporting a small business! Great personalized service and relationships built! No extra cost for those services!

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