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Max Out Your Vacation Fun, Not Credit Cards

Max Out Your Vacation Fun, Not Credit Cards

So, you’re in panic mode, wondering how the first half of the year went by so quickly. Summer is already here and you haven’t saved nearly enough for a vacation. Your trip is already planned; so, you’re in desperate need of some ideas that will help you save money while you’re away! Well, with a little advance planning, you don’t need to go into crazy debt to have a great vacation. You can relax, because we’ve got the money saving vacation tips that will help you enjoy your trip to the fullest without spending a bundle!

Let’s begin!

Step one: You’ll really need to determine what matters most to you and your family. Is it experiencing another culture, taking part in thrilling excursions, just lounging on the beach all day, not seeing the inside of a kitchen for a full week, or just relaxing and spending quality time together? This will play a HUGE role in where you focus the vacation funds you have and where you choose to save! Go ahead and take a moment, we’ll wait…

Got it? Good! Here’s the rest of the money saving vacation tips:

Take Advantage

Hopefully you already have a rewards credit card, which will really come in handy when planning your trip. If you check out your reward options, you may be able to apply points you’ve already accumulated to any number of travel-related items from airfare and hotels to dining gift certificates or attraction tickets and more!

If you don’t have a rewards credit card, you really need to get one ASAP. Not only are you missing out on these rewards, but you don’t want to be facing this same dilemma again next year, right?!

Thankfully, we can help with that! Choice One Community Credit Union offers TWO, amazing choices with our VISA platinum and/or classic credit cards! They can be the ideal solution to your needs! Plus, with our UChoose Rewards program, you can earn points and redeem them at hundreds of retailers, locally and nationwide. So, what are waiting for? What, you don’t like rewards?


CityPass offers great discounts to popular attractions in cities across the country, at savings up to half off the regular price. For instance, heading down to Tampa? CityPass can help you save 50% off at attraction packages that include Bush Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Museum of Science & Industry. This is just a sampling of the savings you can find! Similar discounts can be found in many other cities. Can’t find your city on here, no worries, some other sites that can help you get similar advance deals include Smart Destinations and, just to name a few!

The Value of Membership

If you’re already a member of Choice One, you have the advantage of being eligible for many discounts and rewards. For example, Choice One offers discount tickets for amusement parks like Knoebel’s, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom and Hershey Park among other places. To learn more, click here!

Other memberships you have, such as AAA or AARP may offer you additional discounts as well. Active military personnel and veterans are also eligible for discounts in many places, including restaurants and vacation attractions. Some destinations also have city tourism cards. You can pick them up at visitor’s centers or pay a nominal fee and then use them for discounts at attractions, restaurants and for public transportation. Pick up a local newspaper or local travel guide while you’re there as they can be great sources of restaurant coupons and other local discounts. A little research here, can go a long way later!

Dine In or Dine Out?

Check if your hotel offers complimentary breakfast or that the room has a refrigerator or even better, book a condo or efficiency with a full kitchen. Preparing certain meals right in your room during your trip can save you a ton while vacationing. A microwave would also be great for saving and reheating restaurant leftovers. Doesn’t it just kill you to have to leave so much behind after a wonderful restaurant meal, because you don’t have anywhere to store the food? We know it bothers us, but then we love really ourselves some food!

If you’re driving just four or five hours to your destination, you can also pre-prepare some meals and pack them on ice to have throughout the week. Just store them in your room or condo refrigerator and heat them as you need to. This is perfect if cooking on vacation is not your idea of a fun time. Even if you advance plan to have half of your meals in your hotel room or condo, you will see significant savings, which is the goal here, is it not?

Shop local farmer’s markets for great deals on produce and other local cuisine. You can make this part of the overall vacation experience if you so choose! If you enjoy eating out, then try to make lunch your biggest meal of the day. You can often get lunch portions of popular dinner entrées at many trendy restaurants and best part is, it can save you big time bucks! If you forgo the cocktail, you will save even more. Then, you can eat lighter for dinner. Both your wallet and your waistline will be happier for it! #winwin

You should also research restaurants that are beyond the tourist areas and are locally owned, as these are often much more reasonably priced. When you’re heading out sightseeing for the day, carry your own supply of water and snacks. This is another huge budget saver. One quick stop for drinks and snacks can cost you what you might spend on a delicious lunch. After all, you’re paying for the convenience. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat your kids to a little ice cream, it just means you should be more selective as to how you spend your food budget. By carrying your own water and snacks all week, you may have plenty to splurge on that bigger meal you’ve been thinking about since you arrived. Wanna save and be eco-friendly? Consider packing a reusable water bottle (if you are in an area where the water is safe, of course!) and you’ll save even more! #winwinwin

Don’t worry, be HAPPY!

If this is an adults-only vacation, then happy hours can be your new best friend! Many bars and restaurants offer spectacular happy hour deals on cocktails, appetizers, etc. If you’re smart about it and frequent establishments with an emphasis on food specials, happy hour can basically take care of your dinner. Want to enjoy a cocktail later? Consider picking up a bottle of wine at a liquor store and enjoying it on your hotel balcony or condo patio for a relaxing night in!

If it’s FREE, it’s for me!

Let your fingers do the walking with Google, and search for free activities and events during your trip. You can often find free movies in the park, concerts on the beach, sightseeing tours, firework displays, laser light shows, and various festivals at almost any vacation destination. A little online research can reap big rewards in free activities that your family will love! Be sure to check community calendars and local and regional tourism sites in the areas you will be traveling as well and take advantage of the great outdoors. And lastly, don’t skip out on studying up on public beaches, hiking trails, local markets, art walks, parks and more so you can enjoy everything your vacation destination has to offer!

Entertain Yo Self

If you’re headed to a vacation rental, be sure to have lots of activities to keep your family busy. If possible, consider bringing your laptops, tablets, etc., to watch movies, rather than spending the money to go to a theater. Tickets plus snacks can put a big dent in your vacation budget in just one afternoon! Bring lots of board games, cards, books and other fun activities in case of inclement weather, as Mother Nature often doesn’t follow our plans. In addition to being affordable fun, these activities are a great way to reconnect with your kids in this high tech, digital age!

Use Public Transportation OR Your Own Two Feet!

If you don’t have much use for a rental car, don’t waste your money on one. Use public transportation instead. Most vacation destinations have busses and other modes of transportation that run continuously with stops all through town. Want to do a little exploring? Rent a bike for a day, it can be an affordable adventure that your kids may really enjoy. Better yet, get out and take a walk! Yeah, that’s right, walk! Walking is not only free, but it will enable you to fully enjoy your surroundings! Plus, bring your FitBit along and get credit for all those steps!

It’s Never Too Late to Plan Ahead

Don’t let a lack of advance planning put a damper on your summer vacation! How many paychecks do you have before that upcoming vacation? How much can you afford to put away? By tightening your belt now, you can help yourself down the line later. So, save what you can and heed our advice to max out your vacation and not your credit cards!

Thanks for stopping by. We’ll see you next week for another installment of Choice Words, fresh and new every Wednesday!

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