Vote of the week: What's your first choice to save money on a vacation?

May 27, 2011, 2:21 PM · Memorial Day weekend is here, the unofficial start of the summer vacation travel season. The obsessive among us have been planning our trip for months. But some many of us might also be thinking about how to make a vacation happen this yet on an ever-tightening budget.

Obviously, all of us look for value on a vacation. And if we can find the same value for less, we choose that. But what happens when you've found the best deals, but still can't afford the vacation you want? What do you cut next to make the vacation happen?

That's our vote of the week. I've given you five popular, though unloved, options. Please pick your first choice of what to cut when you need to make your vacation fit your budget.

Budget-stretching travel tips welcomed in the comments. Thanks for reading Theme Park Insider, and have a great holiday weekend!

Replies (10)

May 27, 2011 at 3:01 PM · We have several other value-adding tips on Theme Park Insider at How to get the best deals on theme park tickets.

Personally, I voted for the cheaper hotel rooms. I'll also stay with family and friends, too. I choose to cut corners on the part of the trip when I'm not awake. But I know others who would rather have the security and comfort of a great room above all, and will cut food, days or change destinations to get that.

What did you pick?

May 27, 2011 at 3:43 PM · I'll travel in the off-season to save money and avoid crowds, but I'll also cut corners for my hotel rental. I don't necessarily get a cheap hotel, but I exhaust every discount resource available to find a good rate. One thing I don't skimp on is food. I love dining, which sometimes means making my own breakfast and lunch so I can splurge on dinner.
May 27, 2011 at 3:59 PM · On a theme park vacation I always go for the cheaper room. I'll be getting up early to head to the parks and won't get back to the room until after my evening meal, so it's really not worth going for anything too expensive for such a short period.
May 27, 2011 at 4:57 PM · My partner works for a hotel chain. So we get free hotel rooms when we travel. Saves us a bundle.
May 28, 2011 at 7:37 AM · I will go to the major destinations in the off season (when it doesn't affect the experience -- go to some destinations in the off season, and everything's closed).

The way prices are escalating, however, I think I'm just going to have to cut back to a major trip every two or three years instead of every year.

May 28, 2011 at 7:37 AM · I too went for the cheaper rooms, but I was torn by picking traveling at less expensive times.

Personally, I usually try to save on plane travel (southwest,airtran, etc) and hotel room. Still, there are some very good deals for parks. I went to coasters after dark last night and I saw INSANE deals at SFGA.

May 28, 2011 at 12:39 PM · I actually use a combination. . . a couple of shorter vacations closer to home, but if I had to pick one, I would say "Stay Closer to Home," because that allows me to shorten vacations up while also lowering transportation costs (depending on where I was going).

The way I do things, the financial hit at any one time is lower (rather than getting hit when I paid for a larger vacation and then again when I actually went), because I have small payments over months with the way I schedule things (for example, pay for park tickets a month before, the actual vacation the month of, and the hotel the month after because they don't charge the card until after the date of use). If need be, I just don't go on one of the of the trips (or even schedule them) if money is tight.

In 2008 and 2009 (coming off a Disney trip in 2007), I went to Cedar Point and Six Flags Great America exclusively, both just a morning or afternoon drive from where I was living. Then, last year, we hit Virginia for a couple of days right before I moved to Texas, and I made it up to Six Flags Over Texas, which also a morning or afternoon drive away. This year, same thing. Made it to Six Flags Over Texas and heading to Virginia in a couple of weeks for a couple of days.

This method has worked out well the past couple of years, and the shorter trips has allowed me to save my paid vacation days for other things and spread them out (for example, right now, I won't work a full 5-day week in the next month), because I can do most of it on a weekend.

All of the choices are excellent ways of saving, especially if you don't plan on being at the hotel as much. I have worked that in, when need be, and that has really served me well.

May 28, 2011 at 2:12 PM · For me, it's a combination of things. This particular year, I cut down to a shorter vacation, so that's how I voted. My wallet and my body will not allow me to do the 6-8 park, two week-or-so marathons I've done the last several years. I know my limits. Just today, I booked my Motel 6 rooms in NH and Rochester, NY. I can't find a room in Lake George, NY to fit my budget, so I'll probably play it by ear there. This trip will be less than one week to three parks.
May 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM · Travelling from the UK means our trips to Orlando are hugely expensive. We cut back on just about everything! Cheaper hotel rooms, cut back on food (staying offsite means you can find cheap places to eat very easily) using public transport instead of hiring name it we have probably tried it! But the last 4 years have seen flight prices double (which is the bulk of our cost) and so we really dont know when, or if, we will get back to Orlando :(
May 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM · We utilize Hotwire or Priceline for our hotel reservations. For example, we book the Orlando Renaissance Sea World in Orlando on Priceline for $72/night. The room is usually on "sale" for $225/night. Also, Hotwire shows you amenity icons that tell you if a hotel has a free breakfast...that can be a huge savings if you are traveling with the kids. OK, Chef Mickey it is not, but at $72/night for a four star resort with a free continental could you go wrong???

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