We just had the most amazing vacation/honeymoon ever! We were able to take 2 weeks away to explore Florida and it was the best time! People were surprised that we were able to go since it had only been a month since we went to Las Vegas to get married. How can we afford that? Did you win the megabucks? The answer is we have tricks up our sleeves. We paid in two weeks what most would pay in just one so we were able to see and do a lot more. Here’s how we travel on a budget.
- We booked in advance as much as possible. We have known for months we were doing this trip so we started planning and PAYING as much as we could in advance. This helped in a couple ways. First, we were able to get discounts on some items by booking through Hotels.com. We paid ½ of the normal price to stay on Duval Street in Key West, FL because we booked our room on Hotels.com 6 months ago. Second, we shopped around for the best deals on food and entertainment through Groupon, Living Social and Restaurants.com
- We used RCI.com We are timeshare members. We upgraded to Platinum members a few months back. This lets us get even more discounts on rooms, flights, car rentals and other things. If this is how you travel, a word of advice, “Shop around still!” They are great for some things but not all things.
- We are Sam’s Club members so we were able to save money on our Disney gift cards to purchase our Disney tickets. They offer discounted entertainment, car rentals and hotels too. And while we were traveling, we used our Sam’s card to purchase gas and earn 5% back.
- Ebates.com is one of my favorite ways to save on EVERYTHING I purchase online. No joke. They have thousands of online stores listed so when we shop, we go through Ebates to get to the online retailer. It only takes an extra 30 seconds and we reap the benefits big time!
Travel on a Budget Specifics
I know this is just a list of resources to use and you are wondering exactly HOW we did all the things we did. So here you go, one step further. Below are the places we went and how we got there so you can see exactly how we travel on a budget.
- Flights to West Palm Beach. We left our car at the bus station in Nashua, NH for free parking and got a ride from a family member to the Manchester airport. Flying out of Manchester is the cheapest way to go. Normally, we fly Southwest because their flights are always the cheapest and we get points from them to redeem for tickets. This time, though, they weren’t the cheapest. After a lot of comparing and waiting (until Tuesday because it’s always the cheapest airfare day), we found a great deal through RCI.com for United Airlines.
- Car rental. We almost always go through RCI.com for our car rental. Their prices can’t be beat. We can usually get a car from them for $150 a week – it’s usually Alamo. Alamo usually gives us an upgrade to a larger size car. This was no different. So we paid for a compact car and received a mid-size.
- Weston, FL. We stayed here for 3 nights in a timeshare from RCI.com. On arrival, they offered us a free breakfast buffet and a $100 gift card to a restaurant to listen to their presentation. We did this and had a delicious breakfast and made $100 for 2 hours of a time. This definitely helped our travel on a budget plans and gave us extra money!
- Key West, FL. We booked our room through Hotels.com. We book rooms from here from time to time if we can. After 10 rentals, we get a free night so we were lucky to not only find a discount through hotels.com specials, but also to get one night free.
- Key West, FL motorcycle rental. When we went to Key West, we went on a Harley Davidson. Months ago, Bill found a gift card for Eagle Rider on sale on Craigslist. We were able to rent our motorcycle for ½ the cost!
- Barilla’s Italian Bites on the Beach sponsored by HCP Media and the Miami Herald Media Company hosted by Valerie Bertinelli & Alex Guarnaschelliand watching Little River Band perform! This was an all you can eat and drink event on South Beach in Miami. It only cost us $37 each for the night! We went to EBates and from there, we went to Groupon to purchase the deal.
- Fort Lauderdale, FL. We stayed in a timeshare and ate at home. Having a kitchen saves us so much money! And helps with our health.
- Kissimmee, FL. This was another RCI property that we purchased as an extended vacation. We looked months in advance and were able to get a 3 bedroom with a full kitchen for $500! PLUS, when we checked in, they gave us ANOTHER offer for free lunch and this time a $125 gift card AND FIVE OF US got to eat an all you can eat lunch buffet. The 2 1/2 hours were well worth it for the $250 we “made”. Travel on a budget can be fun!
- Universal Studios. Bill’s sister used her AAA discount to purchase our tickets! AAA also saves money in the park. We brought in our own waters and bananas for a snack. That one move saved us $20!
- Madame Tussaud’s, Orlando Eye, Titanic Museum, Gatorland, and Cirque Magique. We saved tons much money on these attractions with a triple savings. First I went to Ebates, then I went to Groupon where I found a deal for the GoCard, then I used a Groupon promo code! Five of us did all 5 of these for under $500! Cirque Magique (best show ever!) would have been $75 a person without discounts and it included dinner!
- Disney World. We purchased gift cards from Sam’s Club that were discounted by $5 for $150. That saved us $40! Plus, you guessed it, I went through Ebates to get to Sam’s Club to save even more.
- Flight home from Florida. We had enough Southwest points to fly all 3 of us home for free!
All these savings amounted to a lot! Our accommodations were a fraction of what people pay when they just book outright. Even if you aren’t an RCI member (which I recommend to everyone – tell them I sent you!), there are other ways to travel on a budget and stay in decent places on the cheap – hotels.com, Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO are all great resources. If you are curious about how we save even more, visit our Resources We Use page. We are always looking for more ways to save so we can travel even more so SHARE your tricks with us!