What if you could stretch your $5,000 budget into a $10,000 vacation? Or fit in a vacation for under $1000. Imagine how much more traveling you could do and enjoy. With some research and planning, taking a nicer vacation than you think you can afford is well within your reach.

Try these ideas to turn your vacation funds into more fun:

  1. Airline Tickets. You can save a lot of money on airline tickets if you're flexible with your travel dates. A day or two earlier or later can make a huge difference in the cost. Tuesdays – Thursdays are usually the cheapest days to travel by air.
    • Consider alternate airports, too. Sometimes, flying into a different airport can save hundreds of dollars if you have to purchase several airline tickets. Larger cities typically have multiple airports.
  2. Ditch the Hotel. If you're going to a popular destination, you're likely to find an apartment or house that offer you the comfort of home for less.
    • Search online using services like Air BNB. We use Air BnB all the time and have enjoyed being able to travel more while spending less.
    • You can save a lot of money on food by getting accommodations with kitchen facilities. Food is usually a major expense when traveling. A kitchenette can save a ton of money, especially if you have kids and are staying for a week or more.
  3. Consider a Cruise. Cruises offer spectacular food and a lot of entertainment for a relatively small amount of money. There’s always the option to sign up for off-ship excursions, which aren't free, but usually aren't too expensive either.
    • You'll need to include the cost to get to the ship from your house and back again, but cruises can offer a tremendous value for the money.
    • Book last minute to save even more money
    • The Caribbean and Bahamas are usually affordable. We have taken our family of 4 on a 5-day cruise for $1000 CDN
  4. Go in the Off-Season. Most travel locations have a peak and off-season. This is usually dependent on weather and when travelers are most available to travel there. By going in the off-season, there is much less demand and prices will be lower. This is true for air-travel, car rental, lodging, and most entertainment.
    • You also have the benefit of fewer crowds to deal with.
  5. Group Travel. Traveling with a group can really cut down on expenses. Larger groups can get better rates on everything, from transportation to lodging, food, and entertainment.
  6. Pack carry-on luggage only. With nearly every airline charging for bags now, if you can limit yourself to carry on items, it's an easy way to save a lot of money.
  7. All-inclusive. All-inclusive resorts can be a great way to cut your expenses. As long as you stay at the location, all your food and entertainment are already paid for.
    • Though they might seem expensive on the surface, if you really add up all the costs you're likely to incur with other types of vacations, all-inclusive resorts can make a lot of sense.

Stretching your vacation dollars is easy if you do your homework. Consider that your major expenses are likely to be transportation, food, and lodging. If you can do something to minimize each of those, you'll be well on your way to dramatically reducing your vacation expenses.