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Great Ways to Save Money on Travel and Entertainment

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Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article, and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.

You work hard for your paycheck, and sometimes, after the monthly bills are paid, there isn’t a ton of money left for you, the adult, to do what you want to do.

We’ve shared ways to save on kids’ activities. But why should kids have all the fun?

There are ways to save on the things you love to do, like pursue your hobbies, travel or take a day trip. Here are some tips to get you started.

Annual Passes

Are you an avid skier? A fan of fishing? An entertainment park enthusiast? Consider an annual pass or membership. While the upfront, out-of-pocket cost may sound steep, some quick math can show you the cost savings:

For example, at Heavenly Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, a one-day lift ticket bought at the window costs $140. But the early-bird cost of a Tahoe Local Pass is $589 for unlimited skiing throughout the ski season and can also be used at eight other resorts in California, Colorado and Utah.

Ski trips to realize the cost savings of the Pass: 5

At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, daily admission rate is $34.95; a one-year membership costs $89, and comes with benefits like express entry, discounted tickets for guests and half-off parking.

Aquarium visits to realize the cost savings of a one-year membership: 3

And at Six Flags Great Adventure and Safari in Jackson, New Jersey, a 2019 Gold Season Pass costs $102 for unlimited admission, while a single-day ticket bought online starts at $57.99. Season pass holders get free tickets for friends on certain days, admission at any Six Flags nationwide and free admission to special holiday events.

Great Adventure Trips to realize the cost savings of the Gold Season Pass: 2

The best news is that there are deals like this from coast to coast, and you’re sure to find a pass for your passion in your neighborhood. 

Travel Discounts

Start your hunt for travel discounts by following major airlines, hotels and visitors’ bureaus in destinations that interest you on social media, where unique deals often are posted. Or, subscribe to newsletters from popular sites such as TravelZoo, Travelocity or DealBase for notification of travel bargains.

For flights, if you sign up for no-fee price-tracker services like Scott’s Cheap Flights, Skyscanner or Airfarewatchdog, you’ll get notifications when fares drop at your airport or on a route that interests you. When considering flights, expand your radius and be willing to drive a few hours to a cheaper airport. If your home airport is Albany, New York, for instance, and the prices are too sky-high for you and your significant other, you’re within about 3 1/2 hours of airports in Boston, Montreal and the New York City area, where you may find a fare that’s more budget-friendly.

There are also alternatives to full-price hotel rooms:

If you’re booking a room last-minute, remember that hotels don’t like to see their rooms go unsold, so they’ll often drop the price as check-in time closes in. Call the hotel to ask if there’s a special rate for late arrivals. Services like Hotel Tonight or can also help you find discounted, last-minute accommodations.

Hotel resale websites and Cancelon allow you to purchase hotel rooms at oftentimes heavily discounted prices from travelers who have prepaid, nonrefundable reservations they can no longer use. After a room is sold, the sites will coordinate with the hotel directly to be sure that the booking name is changed. Users have had varied experiences using the services, so be sure to do your homework and read online reviews. An extra piece of advice is to contact the hotel right after your confirm your reservation to be sure there are no glitches in the name, or the price.

If you’ve already booked your hotel reservation, price-tracker app Pruvo may still be able to help you save money on a reservation. Forward your reservation (that has a free cancellation policy) to Pruvo by email, and they will notify you if there is a better price available, allowing you to cancel your original reservation and book the new one at a lower price.

Vacation rental listing sites like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway have also grown in popularity in recent years, and allow travelers to book houses, apartments, or rooms from individual owners: bookers can often get more space for less money than the cost of a hotel room, and may also see substantial savings by buying and cooking their own food. Be aware of potential drawbacks from booking a homestay such as not having access to hotel amenities and room/maid service, (room service, maid service, etc.).

For more travel strategies, read “Five Strategies to Make Traveling by Air Efficient and Cost Effective.” 

Bundle Your Excursions

If you’re taking a trip to a big city, there’s so much to see and do, and your wallet might not accommodate them all. Fortunately, in many locales, you can bundle the attractions for considerable savings.

In New York City, it’s the CityPASS. Priced at $132, the pass grants admission to a number of places, such as the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History, and represents a 41% savings off single admissions.

The Seattle CityPASS, which costs $99, gets you in to five of the top attractions in the city, including the Space Needle, at a 49% discount.

Or, if you’re traveling to a place that has two or three awesome adventures that interest you, they just might offer a combo rate that gets you into all of them. If you’re headed to northeastern Ohio, for instance, you can bundle your trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center, or to Cedar Point Amusement Park and the Pro Football Hall of Fame at a discounted rate. 

Stay Local

While you might not have an itch to see the world, don’t forget to explore what your community has to offer for fun and leisure.

Think about the free summer concert series in the park. Check out the day hikes and bike rides. Take in a high school football game for just a few dollars. Cheer on your neighbors and build your community spirit.

And then, there are services such as Groupon and LivingSocial that offer access to dozens of activities at a discount: tickets to plays or comedy clubs, a getaway night in a local hotel, a relaxing spa day or lessons for something you’ve always wanted to do, such as boxing or golf.

While it might seem that some of your dreams are out of reach, with the help of a few friendly apps and a little bit of planning, they don’t have to be.

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CUNA 2023 diamond award trophy icon

CUNA 2023 Diamond Award Winner

Financial Education

Quorum derives no benefit from businesses in return for placement in this blog.

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