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Its May, which means school is almost out and vacation time is almost here!

As you might have guessed, one of my favorite things to do before going on vacation is to plan to save as much as possible! In fact, I saved big on a recent spring break trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee by using my own tried and true techniques. But before I tell you how much I saved, let me tell you how I did it!

Lodging & Travel

The first step is choosing where to stay. After you choose the hotel, motel, cabin, yurt (yes, that’s a thing) that’s right for you, start hunting for any cash back opportunities or coupons that might be floating around.

  • Check out and for coupons and cash back options.
  • Compare rates at discount hotel sites, like with the hotel’s website. Remember to compare using the coupons and cash back.
  • Check your credit card for free travel protection and discounts
  • These same techniques also work for car rental and air travel. Don’t settle for one price at one location. Shop and compare!


For dining, I like to check out my options before going on vacation. If you plan ahead, you can save the stress of finding coupons later.

  • Check your hotel, local chambers of commerce or visitor centers, and even area businesses for coupon books.
  • Check the restaurant’s website for rewards programs and coupons. Don’t forget to see if they have their own app.
  • Many providers offer local discounts. My insurance and cell phone providers both offer great discounts. My credit card also has additional cash back if you use your card at certain stores and restaurants.
  • And check out the social media sites of these locations. You can often receive discounts for social media likes and check-ins.

Shopping and Activities

  • Retail Me Not offers coupons for almost every national retailer.
  • Sign up on an individual retailer’s website or app for coupons.
  • Check for reward programs.
  • Many outlet malls have coupon books and reward programs.
  • For activities, check out Groupon and your property management service for discounted tickets.

So back to my recent trip. I put all of the above techniques into action, and as you can see, it really pays off! Keep in mind that these savings don’t even include the additional rewards I received at the retailers or from my receipt scanning apps that will come in the future. The savings just keep coming!

Here’s the breakdown:

Lodging: $70

Dining: $43

Shopping: $374

Activities: $90.92

Total Saved: $577.92

And remember, it’s only truly savings if you take that money and put it somewhere separate where it can grow, like a Southern Bancorp savings account. Otherwise, you’re just paying less for these things…which is still great, but that’s not contributing to your future! So what are you waiting for? Start planning that summer vacation today and start planning to save while you’re doing it!