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Your summer vacation plans are set, and you’re anxious for your getaway to get underway. But you’re also a little anxious about fitting all the fun into your budget. Not to worry. These tips can help you cut costs without cutting back on the good times, whether you’ll be traveling far from home or enjoying a staycation. Plus, you can apply many of these ideas to save on activities and outings all year long.

General Tips

  • Leverage rewards. For instance, when you have a checking account enrolled with KeyBank Relationship Rewards®1, you can earn points and redeem them for travel-related discounts, as well as cash back, and gift cards.
  • Keep an eye on prices even after you’ve booked. Some travel booking sites, lodgings, and airlines will give you a refund between the new, lower price and what you paid.
  • Talk to locals for tips on off-the-beaten-path restaurants, shops, and attractions to avoid the tourist markup.
  • Hit up the hotel concierge. They usually have deep knowledge about the area and may know about discounts for restaurants, entertainment spots, and activities.
  • Go with a group. Sometimes larger numbers will net you discounts. If you’re traveling solo, see if a tour group offers more affordable packages than doing it yourself.
  • Always read the fine print when making large travel-related purchases to look for hidden fees, special requirements, and restrictions.

Lodging and Food

  • Buy a canceled room reservation. You might be able to scoop up lodging for as much as 25 percent below the going rate if someone can’t make their date.
  • Join hotel loyalty programs. You might score a rate discount right off the bat, and you’ll earn your way toward future perks.
  • Investigate hotel alternatives, like vacation rentals, in-home stays, bed-and-breakfasts, and campgrounds.
    • Resources:,,, (campgrounds)
    • Look for lodging that includes free meals — and a kitchenette, so you can prepare some meals on your own. Even with just a refrigerator and microwave, you can save by hitting the local grocery store for simple meal items (cereal, milk, fruit, sandwich fixings), snack foods, and drinks.
    • When you do eat out, watch for daily deals and special offers.


    • Find cheap airport parking. Long-term rates can add up big, so don’t just take the first lot you come across.
    • If you’ll be renting a car, check with your own insurance company to see if you need to purchase the rental agency’s coverage. If not, you could save $30 or more per day.
    • Save on fuel. Look for the cheapest gas stations. Then improve your gas mileage by using cruise control on highways, keeping tires properly inflated, and (if using your own car), getting a tune-up before you head out.
      • Resources: GasBuddy and Gas Guru mobile apps
    • Decide whether you really need to rent a car at all or whether you can get by with ridesharing services, public transportation, walking, or renting bikes.


    • Buy in advance. Tickets to many sporting and theatric events cost more when purchased at the gate or box office on the day of the event.
    • Investigate season passes, punch cards, and city discount cards for places like community pools and recreation centers, local amusement and water parks, and area attractions.
    • Dig for discounts. For instance, sign up with online group discount clubs to receive alerts on special offers at your vacation destination. Check for savings through association or warehouse club memberships, from your employer, or based on things like your age or military service.
    • Find freebies. Many communities sponsor free (or low-cost) concerts, festivals, and other events, as well as free or discount days at area museums, zoos, and other cultural attractions. These are often highlighted in neighborhood publications found at hotels, restaurants, and shops, or you can search online for “free things to do in (city).”
    • Get outdoors. Hiking trails, public beaches, parks, and playgrounds typically have no or low entry fees.
    • Think small-time. Tickets to sporting events with minor league and community league teams are typically much cheaper than the majors. The same goes for community theater troupes.
    • Go for the cheap seats. You may be able to cut ticket costs in half by sitting farther from the field of play. You can also check for lower prices with reputable online ticket sellers.

    Plan Now for Next Time

    While you could rack up significant savings with these tips, planning can help you save even more in the future. For instance, vacationing in the off-season and flying mid-week can yield big discounts.

    Most important, take a few minutes to revamp your budget so you can regularly set aside savings specifically to fund your next grand getaway!

    Read More

“11 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment,” Military OneSource, accessed May 4, 2017

“6 Ways to Enjoy Sporting Events on a Budget,”, accessed May 5, 2017

“20 Brilliant Ways to Save on Summer Travel,” Cameron Huddleston, posted May 18, 2017, accessed May 18, 2017

“101 Ways to Save Money This Summer,” Daniel Cross,, posted May 25, 2016, accessed May 5, 2017

“11 Ways to Save Money on Vacation,” Mikey Rox,, updated May 18, 2017, accessed May 19, 2017

“26 Secrets to Save on Travel,” Kiplinger, updated April 2015, accessed May 19, 2017

1 As a reminder, there may be an annual fee for KeyBank Relationship Rewards based on the type of checking account. The fee is assessed upon enrollment and annually thereafter. See the KeyBank Rewards Program Terms and Conditions and Points Guide for full details, which may be found at

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