8 Brilliant Ways to Save $125 on Vacation

When it comes to saving money while traveling, the little things really do make a difference. Here are eight simple, savvy cost-cutting tips that save you big-time bucks by the end of your trip.

Person kneeling on the floor over an opened red suitcase full of clothes and a single pair of sunglasses

Shutterstock / Syda Productions

You’re a savvy vacationer. You’ve shopped around for deals on flights and hotels before you booked. But the little day-to-day costs of a vacation can really creep up. Luckily, there are lots of little ways to shave off a few dollars here and there while traveling-and they add up to major savings overall. Here are some easy, instant ways to save while on vacation, so all you have to worry about is kicking back and making memories.

Pack your own snacks

Savings per person: $5 per day

Whether you’re roadtripping or heading to the airport, bringing your own snacks can mean huge savings all around. Gas stations and airport convenience stores jack up their prices on the same snacks you could easily bring from home. Granola bars, nuts, apples and trail mix are easy to pack, and will make a much healthier option than reaching for that bag of chips or candy bar when traveling. Want to save even more? Make your own plane-friendly snacks.

Don’t check bags

Savings: $25+ per flight

With airline fees going up like crazy, packing a big suitcase for a trip can add $25 or more in fees, each way. Pack a bit lighter and bring a carry on. Pro tip: You can usually bring a “personal item,” like a purse, plus a carry-on bag. Make sure it meets the dimension requirements of your airline.

Need the extra luggage space? Share one checked bag with the whole family. Pack toiletries and bulky items like shoes in here. Roll clothing up tightly, rather than folding it, to save more space.

Bring a water bottle…

Savings per person: $5 per day

Drinks can add up quickly when traveling, but if you’re always carrying a water bottle, you’ll be able to fill it up at any drinking fountain and avoid the temptation to slurp down an overpriced soda at popular tourist attractions (plus, you’re more likely to stay hydrated during the day). If plain water doesn’t do it for you, bring some instant-flavor packets that mix into your water to give it a boost.

…And a thermos

Savings per person: $5 per day

If you’re a coffee drinker, make sure to pack your own large thermos-most gas stations and coffee shops will discount the price of coffee if you use your own mug (even if it’s bigger than their standard size). And if you brew your own coffee in your hotel, you can fill up your thermos and take it with you, so you get your caffeine jolt for free all morning long.

Go out for lunch instead of dinner

Savings per person: $20 per day

If you’re dying to try out a raved-about local restaurant but can’t justify the dinner prices, try their lunch menu. They’ll often have similar versions of their dinner entrees, but at much cheaper prices (and chances are you’ll be less inclined to tack on a couple pricey cocktails while you’re at it). Plus, a big lunch means you can get away with eating a lighter (and cheaper) dinner. For even more savvy ways to cut costs at restaurants, check out these 12 brilliant money-saving ideas.

Grocery shop for breakfasts and some dinners

Savings per person: $25 per day

Going out to eat is one of the most expensive parts of a trip. Plan to eat all breakfasts and some dinners at the hotel room or rental. Take advantage of a free continental breakfast if included (and grab a piece of fruit or yogurt for a snack later, if you’re feeling really frugal). Otherwise, head to the local grocery store to stock up on snacks, easy lunches and breakfast items. (Here are 11 genius tips to save money while grocery shopping.)

Yogurt, bagels, fruit, deli meat and cheese will store perfectly in a mini fridge. Have a kitchen to cook in? Even better. Whip up some simple suppers right in the room to save major bucks. Eat on the balcony or in front of one of your room’s 10,000 channels.

Want to go out? Grab an ice cream or a happy hour cocktail: all the fun of a restaurant without the big price tag.

Nix the souvenirs

Savings per person: $25 per day

You want to remember your favorite vacation experiences, but do you really think that a shot glass or refrigerator magnet is the best way to preserve your memories? Take plenty of pictures to remember all the places and moments you experienced on your trip, and hold on to those. If you really want to bring something back, try collecting sea glass or a beautiful stone from a beach or park or bring home a tourist map or info guide from a local attraction and decoupage it around a plain picture frame or on the cover of a notebook. They’re totally free ways to bring back a tangible reminder of all your vacation fun.

Use membership perks

Savings per person: $10 per day

Before booking anything on your trip, check in with your bank, place of employment or club memberships (like AAA) to see if they offer any travel discounts on airfare, transportation, restaurants or more. And if you have a student or military ID, make sure to bring it with you-many restaurants and popular attractions offer discounts to students, military members and senior citizens every day.

Drive the speed limit

Savings per person: $5 per day

This one may be hard for those lead-footed drivers out there, but if you’re roadtripping, be mindful of the speed limit and stick to it. The faster your car goes, the more fuel it needs to run, meaning you’ll be stopping for gas more frequently. On the highway, set your cruise control to the posted speed limit and simply enjoy the ride.

Whether you’re driving or flying, traveling as a couple or with kids (psst… here are some amazing tips for keeping kids happy while traveling), small changes like these can add up to big-time savings by the end of your vacation, leaving you more money to stash away for your next big adventure.

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Rachel Seis
As deputy editor for Taste of Home magazine, Rachel has her hand in everything you see from cover to cover, from writing and editing articles to taste-testing recipes to ensuring every issue is packed with fun and fabulous content. She'll roll up her sleeves to try any new recipe in the kitchen—from spicy Thai dishes (her favorite!) to classic Southern comfort food (OK...also her favorite). When she's not busy thinking of her next meal, Rachel can be found practicing yoga, going for a run, exploring National Parks and traveling to new-to-her cities across the country.