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Maximize Your Money While Traveling: 10 tips for a great vacation.

in Managing Money & Credit

We all love to travel. And with so many amazing sites and inspiring places to see throughout the world, we don’t blame you if you’re itching to hit the road or hop on a plane this summer.

While luxurious and high-end vacations may seem out of the realm of possibility, not every vacation has to be a budget buster. There are numerous ways to save money on travel while still getting the most out of your trip.

Ten Ways to Maximize Your Money on Vacation

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1. Travel During the Off-Season

One simple way to reduce vacation costs is to plan your trip for that destination’s “off season.” While this may not work for every situation (kind of hard to find great Colorado skiing in August, right?), you can always find deals if you’re willing to visit popular spots while other tourists are at home.

Changing your plans and visiting a location during its lull period may change your experience entirely and open up options and activities that wouldn’t be available if you traveled during the high season. After all, if you can’t ski on those Colorado mountains in August, you might as well mountain bike down them!

This strategy may not only save you a good amount of money, but it’ll also save you time and headaches because you likely won’t be battling the usual peak-season crowds. And if there’s anything better than saving money, it’s saving time!

The best way to travel to off-season destinations is to start by picking the dates you plan to travel first. Once you have the dates picked out, come up with a list of spots that you’d like to visit and research when peak season is for that destination.

For many places, there are always times when they’re more popular than others (Spring Break is never a good time to find deals in Florida, but wintertime in Yellowstone will have plenty of deals.) Avoiding destinations at their highest popularity is a surefire way to save money.

2. Pack Lightly

Packing light is an undersold strategy to make your money last. You may ask — how does this save money? Well, not having to fork over extra funds to airlines for checked bags will save you funds right out of the gate.

You’ll continue to reap the benefits of a lighter suitcase when you don’t have to worry about lugging a large, cumbersome bag all over the place. It opens up more transportation options (see tip #7). Furthermore, being able to bring your bags along with you will prevent you from paying someone else to store your luggage while you zip around the city.

Keep your packing list simple and practical. You can travel in comfort and squeeze the most out of a minimal wardrobe.

3. Visit Free Attractions

No matter where you go, there are almost always places to visit that will help you save money on your trip while you take in all your vacation destination has to offer. Even in a major city, there are often a plethora of free things to do.

The key to making the most of free attractions is to do your research ahead of time. A little planning will always help your money go further and travel more efficiently as you bounce from one place to the next.

4. Enjoy the Local Culture

In every corner of the world, the culture of your destination is sure to abound. Churches, parks, waterfront walkways, and even the architecture itself are all enough to provide enjoyment for an entire day — all without ever swiping your credit card.

For instance, when you visit San Francisco and head to Dolores Park, there’s no doubt you’ll feel vibrant and invigorated while you take in stunning views of the city skyline. If you find yourself in Savannah, Georgia, don’t waste any time before going to River Street and watching the container ships arriving at the port.

No matter where you are, simply enjoying the charm of the parks or cities you’re visiting will enrich your vacation, offer opportunities for relaxation, and — best of all — help you make the most of your travel budget.

5. Use Bank Cards That Don’t Charge ATM Fees

Nothing is more frustrating when you’re on vacation than having to pay to use your own money. Make sure you use a surcharge-free ATM or debit card tied to a worldwide network of ATMs.

At Lafayette Federal, we offer debit and ATM cards with 24/7 worldwide account access with extensive access to surcharge-free ATMs. You can even use our surcharge-free ATM locator to find an ATM near you no matter where in the world you are.

6. Avoid Souvenir Overload

It’s always tempting to purchase mementos and trinkets from the places you visit, but when it comes to saving money on your trip, buying less stuff is key. And let’s be honest…we all know that cheap souvenirs have a good chance of ending up collecting dust on a shelf, or worse, in the trash.

Also, remember that you’re packing light so you can be nimble (see tip #2!). Accumulating too many things only serves to slow you down. To save money on your trip, a small shift in perspective to value the experiences you have at your destination (over the tchotchkes you bring back) can go a long way.

7. Be Savvy with Transportation

One fast way to eat up your funds is getting from one place to another. If you want to be the best at saving money on travel, being creative about transportation is key.

Be sure to do your research on the cheapest ways to get around town. As a general rule, you can always assume the more personalized your transportation is, the more expensive it will be. A good rule of thumb — make the ride-shares, taxis, and car rentals your last resort to keep your wallet full!

Mass transit is usually cheap, simple and offers an excellent way to get around. In other places, good old fashioned walking is an awesome way to explore the city without costing you a fortune.

8. Talk to the Locals

No matter how much research you do or how many travel blogs you read, there will never be a substitute for chatting with the locals about the best deals on food, the coolest spots to visit, and the easiest ways to make your money go further while you visit someone else’s hometown.

Striking up a conversation and making a little small talk will be well worth it when you find an incredible bistro or lunch spot that’s off the beaten path. Touristy areas are notoriously pricey, but you don’t have to stick to these places if you know where to look.

9. Use Credit Card Rewards

We all spend money on everyday items like groceries, transportation, and utilities. Paying for those purchases with a good rewards credit card is a simple way to make those everyday expenses work in your favor and increase your vacation fund.

By accumulating points on purchases you would make anyway and redeeming them for travel and experiences, you can make your money go even further. And when the card you’re using offers other great perks such as no annual fees and no foreign transaction fees (like the credit card offered by Lafayette Federal), you’ll get even more bang for your bucks.

10. Get Travel Insurance

Things happen. Protect yourself and your travel purchases with travel insurance so that you don’t end up paying for situations out of your control.

Lafayette Federal credit cards from include free Travel Accident Insurance up to $1,000,00 any time you use the card to purchase tickets for travel on planes, ships, trains, and other common carriers.

Simply by using the right card, protection is automatic for things like baggage delay insurance, hotel/motel burglary, and/or lost and damaged luggage. It’s offers peace of mind, but without having to pay for it

Whether you’re thinking of traveling internationally, around the country, or nearby on a staycation, making sure your money goes further will put more miles under your belt. Remember with each fun trip comes a lifetime of memories.

Jump-Start Your Vacation Savings With Lafayette Federal Credit Union

At Lafayette Federal Credit Union, we can help you get started on your vacation fund, so that you’re in good financial shape for a fun, stress-free trip. With our savings accounts, and credit and debit card perks, we can help ensure you’ve got the funds you need — and you enjoy the peace of mind you need when you’re on your vacation as well!

Not a Lafayette Federal member yet? You can become a member by completing an online membership application.