The whole point of a vacation stems from a need to take off some time from work, relax, and unwind. We need the time off to recharge those batteries and to experience a destination fully. Sadly travel does come at a price—and that price can be pretty high if you don’t mind your dollars and cents! But don’t worry, making the most of your vacation budget doesn’t have to result in munching on granola bars and pitching a tent for a week’s vacation. Follow these 7 simple steps and be on your way to a leaner vacation budget.

1.) Organize Your Budget and Monitor It During Your Trip

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While you might have a ballpark number of what you want to spend on your vacation, it can be hard to remain accountable to it if you don’t write it down in an itemized list. Travelers should create a spreadsheet with food, accommodation, attraction, and transportation costs. Price out what you want to spend on each per day and try to stick to that number. Also, as you travel, keep track of your budget goals so as to avoid the post-trip bank account shell shock. You can often right a sinking ship before it goes down if you’re simply aware of a daily budget.

2.) Skip Loaded Hotel Rates With Breakfast Charges

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You might book a hotel that costs more per night just to get the included breakfast. On the other hand, you could also pay upwards of $25 per person for breakfast. Instead of forking over such a hefty charge for stale cereal and yogurt, you can most likely find cheaper breakfast elsewhere. Sometimes the breakfast charge is buried in the fine print, or you inadvertently book the room with breakfast included that’s $15 more than the one without it. By skipping these rates all together, you can save a great deal of cash on a week’s vacation. A better alternative can be seeking out accommodations with kitchens so that you can make some of your own meals and save extra cash.

3.) Pack Light / Shutterstock

That extra few pairs of jeans in your luggage could be costing your travel budget a whopping $50. Checking a bag can set you back around $25 each way. To save that extra $50 round trip, pack lighter and carry on your luggage. Toss out those extra three pairs of jeans and appreciate having an extra $50 in the one pair you do bring. Also, if your bag is too heavy, you could end up paying overweight baggage fees at the airport. Save your vacation budget before it even begins by packing smarter, lighter, and going with carry-on luggage.

4.) Book Accommodations Loaded With Free Amenities

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Parking, Wi-Fi, and breakfast are some of the standard, can’t-live-without amenities. If you have to pay for these services, your spending billows each day. A $15 Wi-Fi charge, $15 parking fee and $15 breakfast can add up to an extra $45 a day. In essence, the room rate lends a roof over your head and a bed. Travelers should seek out accommodations that are loaded with free amenities. From hostels to vacation rentals to family-run hotels, you can almost always save big bucks if the free amenities are abundant.

5.) Use Public Transportation When You Can

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Taxis and car rentals are true vacation budget busters. While they can make travel more convenient, they can quickly blow your entire budget. If you are staying in an urban setting, you can travel around town for a fraction of the cost by bus, metro, city bike rental, or on your own two feet. In bigger cities with subway systems, you can also generally purchase a several day pass to take unlimited trips throughout your vacation. Rather than $20 per cab ride, you can spend that $20 on your entire transportation for the week.

6.) Partake in Free Tours and Attractions

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Entrance and admission fees quickly add up on vacation. While you want to site see and gain a sense of where you are, those entrance fees can be budget breakers. Instead of merely filling your itinerary with paid attractions, sprinkle in several freebies each day. You can stretch your vacation dollars a bit further by heading to free museums and tours throughout your stay. They won’t cost you a dime and you can still see your destination. Before you go, also consider scheduling your visit around free museum days, especially in certain destinations that tend to have pricey admissions.

Traveling costs money no matter how you slice it—but if you plan out a budget and find ways to save along the way, you can totally lounge on the beach without worrying about your bank account.

How do you stretch your vacation budget? Share your tips with us in the comments below!

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at