How to Save Some Money on Vacation

Greetings! Happy Hump Day! I'm so excited that this week is flying by :) Today I thought it would be fun to talk about a few ways that I saved some coin on our trip to Madrid and Zurich. Neither city is particularly inexpensive (especially Zurich), but I found these tips to really help us have a fantastic time without breaking the bank!

Be strategic with pre-trip purchases.
Prior to the trip, I really wanted a perfect travel bag. I found a gorgeous (and expensive) Kelly Moore bag but realized that it just wasn’t right for my needs. When I went back to the drawing board, I found a $55 PacSafe bag, was pure perfection for my trip at 1/3 of the cost. It perfectly housed my DSLR (safely) and more. Plus it's cute, lightweight and made for travelers. It's a win-win-win. See how happy I am?

In the clothing department, I picked pieces that would complete my ‘look’ for the trip as well as ones that would then transition to my summer wardrobe. I purchased 2 pairs of shorts from the Rack (thanks for picking them out Kim!) which will get lots of wear on the weekends, at barbecues or at the beach; some new tops and flowy cardigans which can be worn with pencil skirts at work; a romper and black dress from American Apparel which can both be worn out to dinner, at summer parties or for a random bar night (though those are pretty infrequent these days).

Pack some snacks.
We brought some Kashi granola bars, trail mix and goldfish for late night snacks at the hotel, or to throw in my bag for while we were out sightseeing. No mini-bars! Of course, we did make the occasional stop for goodies while out sightseeing...

but having these as a back up definitely mitigated some late night hunger.

Limit toiletry spending.
Find out what you actually need before hitting up Target’s travel section (my go-to spot), where I could easily spend $50+ without even realizing it, since each item is under $2. Instead, I packed up my Lush shampoo and conditioner bars in plastic wrap...

pulled band-aids and cotton swabs from our bulk collection, made space for my moisturizers, without having to buy new, smaller ones.

Hotel with free breakfast.
This will eliminate one meal per day and they can seriously add up over a week. We were a bit jet lagged, so we ended up sleeping right through breakfast on most mornings, but it was great to have the option! And since breakfast isn't really a huge deal in either place, I was happy to not break the bank on a so-so meal...and save it for bigger things, like lunch.

Hotel with free Internet.
Our hotel in Madrid had free Internet, but Zurich did not. This definitely added up over 3 days! Next time, I'd be sure to find a hotel that did have free Internet. I do recommend bringing an Ethernet cable, since our Madrid hotel required it to be plugged into the wall for the free cyberspace...Wifi was an extra charge.

Limit souvenir shopping.
Of course, I got my chocolate on in Switzerland, but Madrid left a bit to be desired in the souvenir department. Instead of spending money on junky, cheesy items, I felt content with my camera full of photos that can be blown up and framed for a constant (and gorgeous) reminder of our trip.

These can also be great gifts for family and friends!

Find free options  on your trip.
We found lots of free (or very cheap) options on our trip. We did a lot of wandering and exploring, just following maps from our travel books. We also visited the Reina Sofia museum on Saturday evening, which was free at that time. Perfect for seeing Guernica and a few others before moving on to something else without having to pay 8+ Euro a piece.

We also found great parks and gardens, like the Parque del Retiro (the Central Park of Madrid), which was 100% free...aside from a pair of cervezas that we enjoyed near the lake.

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Create you own walking tour.
This was especially helpful in Zurich since this city was extremely expensive. In fact, Zurich made Manhattan look cheap. Go figure. On one of the days that Shaun was working, I pulled out my Frommer’s and Eyewitness Travel books and did their suggested walking tours, making pit stops along the way to photo ops, tasty eats to sample and to do a little window shopping. It was a great, free way to see the city!

So there you have it. The easiest ways to save some money on any vacation! What are your tips for saving some coin while traveling?