A Frugal Adventure: I’m Saving More Than 50 Percent on Spring Break

Normally, when I travel, I don’t get too into saving a bunch of money. While I like to take tax deductible trips when I can, and I try not to get completely fleeced, I don’t usually take active steps to be especially frugal when I travel. I’m an experience person, and travel is one my favorite experiences. I like it to be fun and fabulous, and I usually don’t count the cost to make it happen.

However, as spring break approaches and my son and I get ready to head to San Diego, I’ve been reflecting on the planning process, and I’m pretty happy. After running the numbers, I realized that I’m getting our six-day excursion for more than 50 percent off. Here’s how I’m doing it:

Airline Rewards

First of all, I am using airline rewards. I have enough frequent flyer miles for one round-trip ticket at Southwest. I went ahead and used those miles to buy one of the tickets. So, instead of having to buy two round-trip plane tickets, I only have to buy one. This is great, especially since traveling during Spring Break season is a little more expensive — especially when your destination is a place like San Diego.

Discounted Car Rental and Hotel

I’m also getting a discount on my car rental. First of all, I booked the hotel and the car rental through a travel aggregation site, so I’m seeing bundled savings. If you book a trip this way, you can save. However, I also had a code for a discount on the car rental, and they let me use it. Since I’m booking with a credit card that has car rental insurance as a perk, I didn’t need to spring for the extra insurance cost. Also, since I normally book my hotel through Orbitz, and there is a rewards program for hotel bookings with that site, I had some hotel rewards saved up. I was able to apply these rewards to my already-discounted hotel booking for an even lower price.

Adding Activities

My son and I are also planning on enjoying some fun activities while we are in San Diego. We were able to buy discounted tickets on many of the attractions. We had a buy one, get one entrance to LEGOLAND, which saved us some money as well. In the past, I’ve use CityPASS to get discounts on attractions (especially in New York and Chicago), but I skipped it this time, since I had discounts from other sources.


Normally, the food costs would be high, but I’ve been offered a promotional credit card from a program, so that I can write a review of it, and I will be given a $200 credit. So, I’ll be using that card to pay for most of our food during the trip. While I expect our food to cost more than $200, I know we’ll keep it to $400 or less, so that counts as a 50 percent savings as well — not to mention the trip will be partially tax-deductible since I’ll be writing about it. My accountant is helping me work that out.

After running the numbers, I realized that I am saving more than $1,000 on this trip. It makes me pretty happy. And, even though, some might not see this as a “frugal” vacation, I see it as a definite win.

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.