Topic Tuesday: Budget Friendly Vacations!

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It’s Topic Tuesday and if you’re not sure what that is, check out the details here….

Our topic today is going to be on “Budget Vacationing”! I am excited to get others peoples advice and tips on the best ways to save money while planning a vacation as well as how to save money WHILE on vacation!

Here are my tips:

I haven’t been on a ton of vacations but I did plan my Hawaii trip and Disneyland trip and the number one piece of advice I have is to put the package together yourself instead of at a travel agency! I tried with both of these trips to use a place that plans trips for you and both times I came out a lot less expensive in the end…..actually MUCH cheaper!

UPDATE: Another AWESOME idea is to get gift certificates from for the area you are traveling to. Also, there is an 80% off promotional code valid through 4/14! Go here for more details.

For the Hawaii trip, I used

*I search for Flight, hotel, and rental car packages all in one. Between the different companies (Expedia, Bookit, Orbitz, etc) Cheaptickets was by far the best in price.

*ALSO, I bet you may not have known this, but you can go through ShopAtHome to get up to 4.2% cash back! That can be a lot for a trip!

*When you are in Hawaii (or wherever you may be going) make sure and get a small fridge in the room. Then, stop by the grocery store there and pick up cold cuts, bread, drinks, snacks, etc! MUCH cheaper than eating out every time you get hungry. Hey, you can even bring your coupons and use them!! ;-) That would be a true “coupon pro”.

For the Disneyland trip….I planned this all myself.

*I actually got my tickets on Ebay. You can also check and search “Disneyland tickets” under your city or under Anaheim (where Disneyland is). You pick up the tickets from a place nearby.

*As for the Hotel, we stayed at Park Vue Inn (pictured below). I really liked this hotel because although it is not super fancy, it was clean, they have a nice continental breakfast, it is a great price for hotels in that area and guess what….it is literally DIRECTLY ACROSS the street from the entrance to Disneyland! There is also a Denny’s next door (obviously all within walking distance).

*Last little piece of advice is to get the “light swords” (that the kids just LOVE to have at night) right in front the hotel (or in front of the entrance to Disneyland). They are SO much cheaper and you can get 3 times the lights for the price.

So….I hope that helps some and trust me, as a girl who LOVES to save money, I researched the heck out of these trips to get the best deals and those were my experiences.

Now, it’s your turn…what are YOUR tips for saving money planning a vacation?!

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  1. Angie Cottey says

    WOW. . Thank you so much. . I loved this. . . I have some tips I will dig out and put on later tonight. . . This was soooo cool. . . You Rock!!!!

  2. Gina says

    Love this……Thanks so much for doing this!…..We always go to Myrtle Beach in June and our hotel offers a 30% discount for booking early……I always book in Dec/Jan and get the huge discount….I also buy gift cards to places that I know we will be eating at throughout the year, that way I don’t have to carry as much cash and spend as much at one time. I also save gift cards that we may get for Christmas to buy groceries for the hotel room.

    • Raining Hot Coupons says

      You’re welcome! =) I LOVE the gift card idea and restaurant idea. It would be a good idea to check out for places you know you’re going. Thank you Gina!

  3. says

    Another piece of advice if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii aside from requesting a fridge is to buy as much food like canned items, oil, spices, pastas and snacks and pack those things in your suite case. It’s much cheaper to buy them in your local city than Hawaii. We’ve done this the last two times we’ve planned our Hawaii vacations and voila, we’ve saved a ton!!

    • Raining Hot Coupons says

      That is true because the stores there are still expensive (just not as much as restaurants). Thank you!

  4. MJames says

    I have learned that booking flights on weekdays can save you a lot of money. Also, go to and look for discounted giftcards for restaurants. Most people eat out when on vacation, so why not eat a nice sit down dinner for the same if not less than what you would pay for fast food.

  5. Lisa says

    A small fridge is always a must for us like you said you can always get snack foods when you get there and or consider a styrofoam cooler if the fridge isn’t available. This way you can either take it with you or leave it and you not out much money.
    Too consider sharing food with the children instead of buying them their own meals out. Most children won’t eat much.

    We went to New Orleans this past summer by car. We found out it was cheaper to park the car at the Train Station and take a taxi to our Hotel than it was to park at the hotel. We figured there was a risk at each so we took the cheaper risk lol. We knew we were going to get around by walking and the trains anyways so we didn’t need the car.
    If you have ever been to New Orleans and stay on Bourbon Street you have to be parked by a certain time due to the roads being closed off. This way we didn’t have to worry about being back at a certain time.

  6. says

    I have yet to use this site but will be soon. The best advise I could give for a Disneyland vaca is plan your trip durring the week day and anything 3 days or more is MUCH cheaper. Some hotels are offering either the 3rd or 4th nite free!!! And like many of you have mentioned before, requesting a room with a fridge or even a full kitchen is an awesome way to keep a lil change in your pocket.

  7. Stephanie says

    What I found in addition to using ebay for my Disneyland tickets (go thru shop at home for money back), you can purchase gift certificates for restaurants in the area to eat at to save yourself loads of money. Whenever has those huge saving sales on gift certificates you can buy them for House of Blues which is in downtown Disney! (search 92802 for restaurants in the area as well) To save on souvenirs DO NOT buy them at the park. You can wait and buy them when you get home from the Disney store (the have official Disneyland items) and you can sometimes buy them on clearance. These can be shipped to your home and you can save yourself some money by searching for free shipping codes or discounts off! To save yourself money on hotels, flights and rental cars look into earning and using points for stays/flights (ie. southwest airlines frequent flyer program, hilton honors, avis rental car). Using these points I was able to get free flights for my bosses family vacation, free hotel stay and a HUGE discount on his rental car! Make sure to sign up for these programs and use them! If you are a AAA insurance member or an AARP member there are also discounts for restaurants, hotels etc. Just do some research before hand you can save yourself money! On flights if you leave/come back during the week instead of weekends your flight is usually cheaper (usually Tuseday-Thursdays)! Also if you get a hotel within walking distance you don’t need to pay for parking since you can park at your hotel and walk over…this makes it convinent if you are bringing little ones that get tired easily you can always walk back and take a nap at your hotel.

  8. Tosha Corona says

    Also the Walmart located in the vicinity of Disneyworld in Florida has tons and I means tons of Disney souvenirs for super cheap!! Tons of great deals!

  9. Stephanie says

    Oh and I forgot use the lockers on the outside of Disneyland and store water bottles, picnic lunches (you can make them at your hotel before you leave if you run to the grocery store before hand-don’t forget your coupons!. The do not allow outside food into the park itself but your can store it there and come out and have a nice picnic lunch/snack…just don’t forget to get your hand stamped to get back in. Lastly, park hopper tickets are a must! If you get tired of one park you can go over to the other one!

  10. Gina says

    Thought of something else….I shouldn’t have submitted so soon….haha!!…..We usually choose to eat out for lunch because it’s cheaper than a dinner meal……I have 2 boys and we will usually just let them share a meal because the portions are so huge anymore!….We eat breakfast at the hotel, eat out for lunch around 2 and then a light supper in the room.

    We also chose a hotel that has a waterpark and lots of activites for the kiddos so we don’t have to pay extra to keep the boys busy!

  11. Pam W. says

    With two small kids, I’ve learned any vacay goes better when I can keep control of their snacks rather than rely on what’s available. So, we always pack a few snacks in a backpack and bring our own small water bottles. We use the small ones because they aren’t as heavy and with a twist off lid, we can fill them back up at the water fountains! We’ve also been know to pack a small cooler to leave in the car so at the end of the day, we have drinks and snacks to help everyone rehydrate and refuel.

    Don’t forget about checking out and Living for great deals on attractions, spa services and such for the city you will be visiting.

  12. Lisa says

    We always try to find a hotel that offers the free continental breakfast with the yogurts and cereals, so after we have the free hot part of the breakfast we always get a yogurt and a box of the cereal to munch on later in the day for a snack and sometimes a muffin!

  13. Kim F. says

    Look up restaurants coupons for the area you are traveling to on For ex. House of Blues is a choice and it’s right in Downtown Disney!!! It’s a very expensive place to eat as are most places in and around DL.

    If you do book with a travel agent, book your character dining with your package. We paid $75 for our Disney Princess dinner and when the bill came, it was $125.00. We showed them our tickets to the dinner and they thanked us and said that we were paid in full!! It pays to plan. Also, remember that any child under 3 is free, even at Charater Dining.

    We love staying at the Embassy Suites South, they have a full hot breakfast buffet with the works. It’s free to all patrons. You can eat in your room which is great because you can stock up on yogurts and fresh fruit and save them for park snacks later on. There is also a minifridge and microwave which is great for quick, familiar meals like EasyMac when the kids are too tired for lunch. The Embassy Suites also offers a free happy hour with beer, wine, sodas and snacks. They also have a restaurant called Bisto 21 that is on the list so you can save there too!

  14. Kim F. says

    Also, for Disneyland, PLEASE remember to check the Annual Pass holders calendar on their website to check the blackout dates and more importantly, the dates that they open the park up to certain pass holders. One year we went and it was a madhouse! There was barely room to walk through New Orleans Square. One of the guest said that it was the first day in 3 months that they opened the park up to ALL passholders. That was something I never considered and now, I will never go that week.

  15. Stephanie says

    Going on vacation during offtimes of the season also can get you great discounts. You can always call a travel agent and ask when those times are. Calling hotels directly and making reservations during those offtimes they will sometimes negotiate on the prices because they are looking to fill rooms. Those are the best times to get upgrades on flights, rooms & rental cars for FREE! I also ask family/friends/co-workers if they have any free flights/points to use for my vacations they wouldn’t mind me using. My mom has a time share in mexico so if I go there I can use her hotel room for one week FREE! They also have exchanges for time shares so you don’t have to go to that certain place (you just pay a fee to exchange it). If you go to those time share presentations you can also get money off trips like atv rentals, horse back riding, etc. they are usually the booths of people on the street that almost attack you when you walk…I have saved $50/person + going to those presentations. They do tend to be an all day thing so if you are in say Hawaii or Mexico for the week and don’t mind killing a day on your trip to save money it is a good way to do that. Do keep in mind they are VERY pushy on those presentations so if you have a tendency to not be able to say no to the purchase of the time share I would stay clear of them!

  16. Annie says

    We just got back from Disney a few days ago! The biggest tip I have is eat as little in the park as possible! Not only is the food OVERPRICED but it is not very good. (Besides Blue Bayou!) We ate the continental breakfast but brought fruit to add to it and then we made sandwiches with items we brought from home and put them in the hotel fridge. We put them in a cooler bag under our stroller and then had those for lunch. We also bring waters and snacks. We do indulge with a character meal though. You are really paying for the characters to interact with your kids and take pictures and sign books ect. That way you don’t have to wait in line and waist your precious time, so really it is a money saver so you are getting the most out of your tickets! Our favorite Character meal is Goofy’s Kitchen and we usually do it on a different day than a day we are in the park so we can take our time and not feel rushed. Etsy is great for T-Shirts and autograph books! You can always find them cheaper than the park and plus they are personalized! =)

    • Raining Hot Coupons says

      Thanks Annie! It’s good to know about the Character meals….we’ve never done that! We will have to try it next time for the kiddos. =)

  17. Dawn C says

    We can’t afford to go on many vacations but we did just go to TN last month (for the Nascar race). I took my coupon binder with me since we were staying in a cabin and had to buy groceries. I went online to find out what grocery stores were there and then signed up for their rewards cards in advance so I had them when I got there. Although a hotel rate is cheaper per night, you have to eat out and with a cabin we were able to grill out while viewing the mountains.

  18. Stephanie says

    Thought of another tip..if you are taking a flight for your vacation see if there is off site airport parking. They normally are MUCH cheaper and take you to the airport in a shuttle. My onsite parking in Phoenix runs about $25/day which can add up fast. I get coupons mailed to me for offsite airport parking for $6.95/day (check those blue envelopes that come in the mail that are loaded with coupons). They have security guards there 24/7 so it is just as safe as parking at the airport for a fraction of the cost.

  19. Sandi says

    We use all of our recyclables to take small family trips. Last summer we meaning my family of 4 and my sisters family of 3 went to Omaha for the weekend and we used all the money from our recyclables to pay for it we took a small grill and grilled for dinner every night. We are planning on going to St.Louis for the weekend this summer and same thing!

  20. Annie says

    Before we went on our trip to disneyland i bought our son a bunch of the little toys they have at the disney store by our house. I think its like 3 for $15 or something like that and mickey mouse ears. Then we just hid them in my purse and whenever my son saw something he wanted we would just distract him and my husband would take him to the bathroom. When he came back i would have a bag with a toy for him and he would forget about what he wanted and be excited to see what i got him. This saved us from buying the overprice stuff at disneyland and he had no clue we didnt buy the items there.

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