/ Lifestyle

Summer vacation: 13 tips to save you money

Did you know vacations are actually good for our health (check out our last tip to find out why)? That’s why it’s important to plan the occasional trip – even if it’s a small one.

We rounded up the best tips to help you save money on your next summer vacation:

1. Research summer vacation deals

Doing research about your next summer vacation may sound tedious, but the money-savings is totally worth it. Set aside some time to research everything you can – hotel deals, plane ticket sales, car rentals, etc. If you’re not picky about your destination, you can even begin by researching which locations are the cheapest to visit. Not sure where to start? Friends and family are always a great place to begin your research.

2. Plan your vacation in advance

Spur of the moment vacations are fun, but they can also put a dent in your bank account. Decide what you’ll do before you leave for your trip so you can estimate the true cost of your vacation. After you calculate your expenses, you can either cut back on your activities, or up your savings contributions so you’ll have enough money put aside when it’s time for your vacation.

You’ll also want to nail down your packing list and triple check it well in advance of your vacation. Forgetting something can cost you – airports and rest stops inflate their prices, so you’ll save yourself the money and the hassle if you pack everything you need before you take off.

3. Saving for vacation ahead of time can help you avoid interest charges

Now that you’ve planned for your vacation ahead of time, you should have a good estimate of what your expenses will be. Make sure you have enough money for your vacation at the time of booking. Next, divide what you think you’ll need for spending money over the number of weeks (or months) until your trip start date to find out how much money you should save from each paycheque. Our saving tip? Set up automated deposits to come out of your account on payday.

Don’t forget to save some extra money (another 10% of your spending money) for any emergencies or unexpected expenses. By having the money up-front, you won’t have to rely on a credit card to cover your vacation. And, that leads us to our next point…

Giving yourself extra time to plan will allow you to do your research and purchase as many things in advance as possible…"

4. While on vacation, try to pay for purchases with cash instead of credit cards

Since you’ll have saved for your vacation, credit and debit cards should be for emergencies only. Another exception? Putting your credit card down for reservations. If you have to use your credit card for a hotel reservation, try paying off your balance right away (even before your monthly bill arrives). Waiting to pay down your credit card bill may tempt you into spending your vacation fund on something other than your planned expenses.  Remember: paying interest on your vacation makes it a lot more expensive than it has to be. It’s better to take a smaller, more local trip than to rack up credit card debt trying to pay for your summer vacation.

5. Visit a less popular vacation spot

It might be fun to visit a world-famous attraction or tourist destination, but these places tend to come with inflated prices. So, when it comes to vacationing on a budget, try to veer off the beaten path! Ask friends or family, or search the internet, for some quieter and less tourist-packed places. On top of saving money, you can benefit from smaller crowds and less traffic (meaning it will be more enjoyable too).  

6. Choose your travel dates wisely

Try to travel during off-peak times if possible. Ideally, you’ll want to plan your trip in early June or late September while kids are still in school. You’ll still benefit from nice weather, but typically prices are lower since it’s a less popular time for travelers.

July and August can be a bit tricky since these months are typically the busiest for travelling. If you must travel during these months, try to at least plan your trips during the week, and skip long weekends altogether.

7. Skip the fancy accommodations and meals

Be open to different types of accommodations and meals. If you’re willing to forgo a name-brand hotel and restaurant meals, you’ll see huge cost savings. There are plenty of ways to save on where you stay — pick a motel or a hostel, go camping or do a house swap. Wherever you’re staying, try to prepare at least two meals a day yourself. Packing sandwiches for lunch or having cereal for breakfast will really reduce costs over the course of your trip.

8. Walk or choose public transport to get around

Skip pricey cabs, rides sharing services, car rentals or shuttles and choose to walk or take public transit to get around town instead. You can also look for a hotel or other accommodation that offers a free shuttle into downtown areas.

9. Invite friends or family and split costs

If you’re headed somewhere within driving distance, ask some friends or family if they want to join your vacation and carpool together. The more people to pitch in on gas, the cheaper your vacation will be. The same goes for accommodations – try to get a group of friends or family together to share a cottage or housing rental. Not only will you save money, but you’ll create lasting memories with the people that tag along.

10. Value pictures over souvenirs

Make your vacation about the experience, not the souvenirs. Don’t feel that you have to buy something for everyone back home. Instead, limit souvenirs for just a few close friends and family members. If you really want to stay on budget, skip the souvenirs altogether and focus on taking some good quality pictures to remember your trip by. People close to you will probably appreciate some pictures of your trip just as much (if not more) than a store-bought gift.

11. Visit a friend

Have a friend or family member that lives far away? Plan a trip to catch up with them! They’ll be sure to know what attractions you should go see and how to get the best discounts. And, if they have room for you to stay at their place, you can save money on accommodations. Just make sure to return the favour someday. 

12. Be a tourist in your own city (or province)

You don’t have to travel across the ocean to enjoy your vacation. There’s likely a small town, beach or park just a short drive away from you that you haven’t had a chance to visit yet. Vacation isn’t about getting as far away as possible, it’s about getting a change of scenery. So, if you can do that on a tank of gas rather than a plane ticket, you’ve saved yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

At the very least, try to travel in your own country to avoid currency exchange fees, foreign transaction fees or travel insurance (health) costs.

Need some ideas? Check out these budget-friendly activities Fairstone is sponsoring in Canadian communities coast to coast this summer.

2019 Dates



June 29-August 17

Peterborough Musicfest

Peterborough, ON - Del Crary Park

July 12-August 18

Parksville Beach Fest

Parksville, BC

August 23-25

Whoop and Hollar

Portage la prairie, MA

September 28

Gord Downie Life & Legacy Celebration

Kingston, ON

September 28

Run for Leucan

Gatineau, QC


13. Plan a few smaller, shorter trips throughout the year compared to one big trip

Research has shown that vacations make us happier. However, it’s the anticipation leading up to the vacation (not the vacation itself) that makes us the happiest. With this in mind, it’s better for your happiness to plan a few small trips throughout the year rather than one large trip. The best part? Smaller, shorter trips are also better for your budget! It’s a win-win situation for your health, and your financial well-being.

We understand vacations don’t always fit in your budget. But if you plan, make a budget and are flexible, your next vacation can come at an affordable price.

Looking for more?

This article is for informational purposes only. For personalized financial advice, you should contact a qualified financial advisor.

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