GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – We may be heading into the summer of inflation, but that doesn’t mean we have to blow our vacation budget. In this 7NEWS Consumer Exclusive, we looked into ways families can save on travel, lodging and just having fun.
ADOPT A SAVINGS STRATEY
Emily Hughes, in Greenville County, says she takes advantage of three main money savers when booking trips:
- sharing space
- pre-planning meals
- researching free stuff
Hughes goes in with family when booking lodging to save money.
“Instead of us each booking our own place or our own hotel rooms, we all go in together and do the VRBO rentals and find a house that’s big enough for everybody,” said Hughes.
Be sure to compare prices on both VRBO and Airbnb. And if you want to get a 20% discount, use the filters to search “new listings.”
If you’re booking last minute, try messaging the owner to see if they can offer a discount.
Finally, if the listing is under a property management company, call them directly to avoid fees.
And don’t rule out deals on hotel rooms, either. Susan Cohen, the president and CEO of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, says while online travel sites are good for research try booking through the hotels for better rates.
“If you’re calling the hotel direct, they’re able to give you their bottom price. They’re not paying a commission to someone. They’re able to pass that savings onto you,” said Cohen.
Of course, the shared rental home also allows the Hughes to save money by cooking instead of eating out. Her big tip: plan the meals ahead and shop at the beginning of the trip so you don’t overspend.
“It definitely saves a good $500 at least, you know, that’s a minimum,” said Hughes.
Hughes, who will be driving to the beach, saves money on gas through a Sam’s Club membership card. You can also take advantage of apps, like GasBuddy, to help you find the cheapest station.
If you have to fly, you can use Google Flights to figure out when that flight is cheapest to book by using the date grid or price graph.
“It will show you just how that flight has fluctuated over the past few months or so. If you’re not ready to book just then you can click ‘track prices’ so that way at the lowest possible price, you can then book,” said Justin Burr, a Tech and Trends Expert with Google.
STAYCATION FREEBIES AND DISCOUNTS
But before you fly or drive anywhere, Kristina Hernandez with Kidding Around Greenville asks, why spend so much when there is so much to do in our area?
“Especially with social media, you see these families going to, you know, maybe places your family can’t afford. Don’t feel like your kids are missing out. This time of year, there are so many free things to do versus the colder months,” said Hernandez.
There are free splash pads in Fountain Inn on Main Street, Moore’s Tyger River Park, Spartanburg’s Barnet Park, and Greenville’s Unity Park.
Plus, the site Kidsbowlfree.com shows which bowling allies offer free games, like Greenville’s Spare Time and Spartanburg’s Paradise Lanes. Shoes will cost you, though.
There are also summer movie deals from a $1.50 at Cinemark to free showings at Premier Cinemas in Easley, Greenwood, and Seneca. Kidding Around Greenville also offers a list of discounted movies around the Upstate.
And don’t forget all the gorgeous hiking spots nearby from Ceasar’s Head to Jones Gap and Devil’s Fork.
Sometimes an upfront investment can help you save in the long run, like this $99 annual state park pass. It gets you into all 47 state parks in South Carolina, including the beach.
Hughes said rented a camper through RVshare.com made a connection with owner and now doesn’t have to pay online fees.
“And that saved us quite a bit, too, for not having to go through the website,” said Hughes.