5 tricks to avoid overspending on vacation

It's fun to splurge while travelling -- until the credit card bill shows up after you return. Follow these tips to stay on budget and save money while still having a blast.

By Krystal Yee

Most of us look forward to going away on vacation each year. But unfortunately for the majority of us, we don’t have an unlimited travel budget. Whether it’s taking the family on a long weekend trip to Grandma’s, or that holiday of a lifetime to Italy, there is always a risk of spending more than we’ve budgeted for.

Instead of struggling to pay off that vacation debt for months after you’ve gotten back, here are a few ways to avoid overspending, while still having the time of your life.

1. Avoid pricey hotels
Accommodation costs can quickly kill a travel budget -- especially in the city centres of popular tourist destinations. There are plenty of different options -- think hostels, university dorms, bed-and-breakfasts, house swapping and apartment rentals -- that will allow you to keep more money in your pocket for sightseeing, restaurants and shopping.

2. Buy your own food
Dining out in restaurants for every meal will end up being incredibly expensive -- especially when you are travelling with a family -- and often not worth the money. If you’ve decided to stay in a hostel or rent an apartment, there is usually a fridge and stove available to you. Make use of it by buying fresh produce and cooking at least one meal a day. You can also buy ingredients to pack a picnic lunch for a day of sightseeing.

3. Pack light
If you overpack, not only will you get sick of lugging around a heavy suitcase, but it might also cost you some serious money. An overweight piece of luggage might cost you as much as $100 if you go over the airline’s weight restrictions, and many airlines now allow you only one piece -- or even no pieces -- of checked luggage without a fee. Once you finish packing, throw your suitcase on your washroom scale to see how close you are to the limit.

4. Skip the souvenirs
We’re all guilty of buying souvenir T-shirts and trinkets while on vacation that we end up never wearing or using again. Cutting down as much as possible on the memorabilia that you purchase will keep more money in your pocket, and less junk in your home. If you simply must buy something to remember your vacation, consider a fridge magnet or Christmas tree decoration. Both are inexpensive items that you are guaranteed to get good use from. Or splurge a little on one quality item that will have a real place in your home or wardrobe.

5. Check all your transportation options
While it might be convenient to fly out of the closest airport to you, it's not necessarily the cheapest option. Smaller airports will often have higher fares than major city airports, and if you live close to the border, deals can be had flying out of the U.S. as well. Just by driving 30 extra minutes out of your way, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars on your airfare.

It can be difficult to stick to a budget while travelling, since a vacation is most likely a much-needed break from your everyday life and worries. But if you aren’t thinking ahead, you’ll end up spending money on things you didn’t even really want or care about. Taking the extra time to plan and being cognizant of the spending decisions you are making will make a huge difference.

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