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7 Ideas For Vacationing On A Budget


Summer vacations are a great way to create priceless memories and experience new places you’ll remember forever. From Europe to Fiji to resorts and campgrounds, everyone vacations differently. And the best part? You don’t have to go halfway around the world to have a great time. If you are still wondering if there’s room in your budget for travel, you can have a fantastic vacation for less if you do a bit of research and take advantage of offers and deals.

Plan with a planner.
First, download a vacation planner app. For example, Wanderlog lets you input all your flight, hotel, and activity information in one place, creates a trip itinerary, and records everything on an interactive map. You can also share your detailed plans with any friends traveling with you. Other planning apps you may want to try are TripIt, Roadtrippers, or visit AAA, especially if you’re driving.

Skip the chain hotels.
Instead of automatically thinking of hotels, consider Airbnb or Vrbo. Both services (which you can use online or in their app) let you search for thousands of places to stay worldwide. Options include townhomes, condos, apartments, houses, guest homes, and even single rooms within a home. In Hawaii, for example, you might find an ocean-front listing for far less than a beachside hotel would charge. Make sure you look at the cost breakdown, as different owners charge different fees. And you don’t want to save on the booking, only to pay it back in cleaning fees. Speaking of fees, many hotels are now charging “resort fees” per night, whether you use the hotel’s amenities or not. Before you book, know the resort fee for any hotel property you’re considering. Finding a property without a resort fee can save you big time.

A word of caution. You can save money with a home rental, but be aware of online listing scams. If someone asks you to pay via Venmo, PayPal, money order, or wire transfer upfront, keep looking. Another common trick is copying property photos and listings from one site and posting them on another at a bargain price. When you arrive at the location, there could be no way to enter the property or it could have guests who booked on the real posting site. You’re out a place to stay and your money. There are plenty of legitimate, well-priced home rental options online, but be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

Bring your own food and shop local.
Even if you stick to fast food, eating out for every meal adds up fast. And if your family is large, the cost is even higher. A good way to save a lot of money is to bring your own food and shop locally. Snacks and sandwiches are easy to prepare and budget-friendly. You can eat them in the car on a road trip, at the beach, while hiking, or whatever you’re doing. Book a place with a kitchen so you can cook your meals. Depending on the length of your stay, the size of your group, and your location, hit up a local membership store like Costco or Sam’s Club to get more food for less. Local farmers’ markets are also a great source for what’s in season, locally sourced produce, and can save you a pretty penny. It’s also a great way to mingle with the area’s residents. Another way to save on food is to plan to dine out once a day while eating groceries the rest of the time. Again, depending on the length of your trip, this tip could save you a significant amount.

Head outdoors.
Hotels are nice, but have you ever tried a good campground? They are undeniably cheaper than a hotel, and there are campgrounds around the U.S. that are much more than just a fire pit and picnic table. Playgrounds, pools, nice showers, food trucks, and well-maintained lakes are just some of the features you can find. Add a little “glamping” to your trip and bring some cheap cots to feel more like you’re on a bed. Bring battery-powered LED lights and stick them to the inside of your tent; set up a hammock under a tree; invest in comfortable camping chairs (some even recline and have footrests); bring battery-powered fans for extra comfort or space heaters for cold nights if allowed, and it is safe to do so); set up a large canopy cover for your food area. Finding a campground next to a recreational lake, river, or beach adds tons of extra fun and playtime for you and the kids. Who needs a hotel? Please note that popular campsites and national parks fill up fast. You’d be wise to book as far ahead of time as possible.

Be hotel flexible.
If camping isn’t your thing, there are ways to get hotels on a tight budget. Through Priceline, you can get a hotel room for a great deal. Just enter the city you want to visit, the area you’re willing to stay in, the star rating you’re ready to accept, a price range, and a few other filters. The site will come back with a list of options. The catch is you won’t know the exact hotel until after you book. The considerable upside, however, is that you can save a lot of money.

Get cash back on your vacation spending, including gas.
If you’re driving to or around a destination, you’ll have to budget for gas, which can be expensive. Gas apps like GasBuddy and the GasGuru app will show you the gas stations in your area (or along the route you’re driving) and their prices. Cash-back apps like Upside are also helpful because you will get a percentage of your gas purchases back as straight cash. Upside also gives you cash back for all sorts of other things you may be spending on during your trip. Remember, your Credit Union also makes it easy to get cash back. Get 3% cash back on most purchases for 12 months from account opening on our award-winning Crystal Visa®.* After that, earn up to 2.5% cash back on most purchases. And since we’re talking vacations, there are no foreign transaction fees! Plus, our Crystal Visa® comes with a 0% Intro APR for the first six months and very competitive rates after that to help you keep more of your money and cut debt. Learn about all our credit card options here.

Look for free activities.
Once you’re at your destination, you don’t always have to book pricey tours to have fun. Do some research, and you’ll find plenty of free or cheap activities. National parks are affordable and have countless hiking trails; many beaches have trails, long piers with fun sightseeing, free fire pits for a bonfire, and free volleyball nets. You can find free or cheap museums, children’s play centers, and many more options. Don’t forget to check Groupon to find deals on different activities and places to visit.

Final thoughts.
Summer vacation fun doesn’t have to bust your budget. With research and planning, the potential savings are enormous. The savings are out there waiting for you. Start planning today and start packing tomorrow.

*$100 Bonus for New Credit Cards for: Crystal Visa, Select Visa & Visa Platinum: A $100 (one hundred dollars) bonus will be paid in the form of “Visa Statement Credit” when at least $5,000.00 (five thousand dollars) is spent in purchases within the first 3 months (qualifying period) of the “New” Visa card opening. Bonuses will be paid out within 90 days after the qualification period. Example: If a card is activated on January 1, 2021 and the total of qualifying purchases for the months of January, February and March is at least $5,000, the primary borrower will receive a Bonus of $100 (one hundred dollars) no later than July 1, 2021.  Limit of one reward/bonus per member number. Qualifying transactions must “post” to the designated account during the qualified period. All qualifying purchases will count towards the $5,000 in spent purchases unless return for credit of any of the qualifying transactions takes place within 90 days of the end of the qualifying period. Transactions may take two business days from the date of purchase to post. Member must be in good standing to be eligible for bonus. New accounts are subject to FIGFCU approval and all other terms and conditions apply. This offer is valid only for individual account /card holders, is non-transferable and cannot be combined with any other offer. The $100 Bonus is a product promotion sponsored by FIGFCU and may be discontinued at any time.  Visa is a registered trademark.

Zero Percent (0%) Introductory Rate Promotion is offered on ALL purchases for new FIGFCU Crystal Visa® account holders. If you are in an introductory rate promotion period, you are not eligible to transfer other loan balances, line of credit balances and credit card account balances to take advantage of the introductory rate promotion.

The program promotion may be modified, suspended or cancelled or may be changed at any time without notice and without restriction or penalty. Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union reserves the right to change the promotion rates and program retention period from time to time. You will be notified of any expiration or program changes as required by law. Contact Farmers Insurance Credit Union for details on applicable conversion to current rate and payment options which are then in effect. At Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union’s sole discretion, the promotion offering of the program may be terminated, for any reason, including but not limited to a “Rules Violations”, Your Farmers Insurance Credit Union account is not in good standing or is suspected of fraud, or if you move to another Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union Credit Card.

This program is void where prohibited or restricted by law. You are responsible for any federal, state, or local taxes.

Loss of Introductory APR: We may end your introductory APR and/or apply the Penalty APR if you make a late payment or are Over limit.

Billing Rights: Information on your rights to dispute transactions and how to exercise those rights is provided in the Billing Rights section of the Visa® Credit Card Agreement.

Effective Offering Dates: Promotion period for Zero Percent (0%) introductory is effective for at least the first 6 (six) months from activation of new FIGFCU Crystal Visa® Credit Cards opened beginning July 30, 2020 through “until further notice”.

If you are in an introductory rate promotion, you are not eligible to increase limits until the introductory rate promotion has expired.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS The introductory Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will apply to purchases made during a promotional period of 6 (six) months from the date of opening of your Crystal Visa® account. After this promotional period ends, 6 (six) months from the date of activation of your Visa account, your standard APR will apply to any remaining balance and to all new purchases and balance transfers. The terms of this introductory rate may not be applied to existing Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union Visa accounts.

This promotional introductory offer is based on meeting Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union’s criteria for creditworthiness. Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union will review your credit and employment history and any other information permitted by law to process your application. The credit line on this account will be determined after a credit review of your application by Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union and will be based on various factors, including income. FIGFCU maintains the right to not open this account if: a) the information provided is incomplete, inaccurate or cannot be verified, or if you do not meet Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union’s standards for creditworthiness; b) your name and/or mailing address on the credit application have been altered; c) the income you reported on the application is insufficient to support the opening of this account; or d) you do not meet Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union’s membership eligibility or “member in good standing” requirements. You have the right to review your credit history by contacting the appropriate credit reporting agencies.

Change in APRs, Fees and Other Terms: Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union may change the APRs, fees and other terms of your account at any time in accordance with applicable law and the Visa Credit Card Agreement. Factors we may consider in determining whether and how to change your terms include, but are not limited to, a late payment or an extension of credit that exceeds the credit limit, the frequency and severity of defaults and other indications of risk on accounts with Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union and other creditors. To the extent allowed by law, the new terms will affect all outstanding balances. If we increase your APRs for any reason other than an increase in the Prime Rate, the new APRs will apply only to new transactions you make after we notify you of the change in writing.

No points are earned for finance charges, fees, cash advances, convenience checks, foreign transactions currency charges, purchase or currency charges for crypto currency, or insurance charges posted to their account. Charges or transactions may be added to, or removed from, the lists of eligible charges and transactions from time to time at the sole discretion of the Crystal Rewards Program.

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