Girls, I’m sooo excited about vacation next week with my hubby. We’re celebrating our first wedding anniversary! Down to California where it’ll be sunny and low-70’s (It’s currently 40 and raining where we live. Pretty much every day.), seeing the beautiful west coast and the vast Pacific Ocean, touring the local vineyards, wearing a cute dress out to dinner…. not to mention some undistracted, non-work quality time with my sweet husband! Did I mention I’m excited? 🙂

Now the kicker is, we’re on a pretty tight budget. Working in full-time ministry, there isn’t a lot of money to spend on things like vacations. I’m sure you know how that is.

So that’s why I’m here to share with you how we planned our anniversary trip on a budget — not that I’m an expert, by any means, but I can tell you my own tips and tricks and maybe something will be helpful for you. Okay? Here we go.

  • Plane tickets

We purchased our plane tickets using mileage we’ve been earning. Brett and I both have an airline credit card, which earns miles with each purchase. Of course, we use the credit card responsibly and keep it paid off, and those miles eventually add up! It cost us a total of 48,000 miles plus $47 to fly to California and back.

  • Rental Car

Did you know that if you’re a Costco member, you can get great travel deals through them?! I had checked all the travel sites like Expedia and Hotwire, and the cheapest I could find a rental car for our trip was over $200. Then someone told me about Costco Travel! We have a membership there, so I checked it out and was able to get our rental car for around $150.

  • Hotel

Okay, I’ll admit, this is where we splurged a bit. If you know me, you might know I have this obsession with staying in locally-owned, non-chain hotels. I just love it. If I’m going to travel and experience someplace different, I don’t want to stay in a Days Inn — I want the experience of a unique, local lodging.

Hence, our little splurge on our hotel.

But it still wasn’t as pricey as it could have been! Hotels on the coast are expensive, you guys. We found a nice, local-owned place, on the lower end of the price range, an easy walk from the beach, and we really like the looks of it. Also, I booked it on Expedia and was able to get a slightly discounted rate.

  • Food and Entertainment

While on our trip, we’re certainly going to be on the lookout for deals, coupons, and ways we can save a few dollars here or there. Our hotel room is equipped with a mini-refrigerator, which means we can keep some drinks and snacks in the room and avoid purchasing those at a restaurant. Someone also gifted us with a Visa gift card specifically to use on our trip, which is a huge blessing!

  • Use Travel Websites and Ebates!

Maybe you don’t have an airline credit card or a Costco membership. There are still ways to save dollars on your trip! Websites like Expedia, Hotwire, and Priceline can help you find deals on flights, cars, hotels, and even vacation packages. Groupon is another great site to join, as they will help you find extraordinary deals on vacation packages all over the country and world! Another great tip is to join Ebates, which gives you cash back for online shopping. When I booked our hotel, this was my process:

  1. Go to and log in.
  2. Search Ebates website for Expedia (or other travel site).
  3. Click on Expedia link from Ebates website.
  4. Book hotel on Expedia (or your choice of travel site).
  5. Get 6% cash back on hotel booking.

Six percent might not seem like much, but it’s a few dollars off your hotel price, and if you use Ebates for other trip expenses too, you could earn a good chunk of cash back.


Hopefully these tips give you some good ideas on ways you can save money on a vacation with your sweetie — or with your family or friends! Traveling can be so expensive, but the experience and memories are so wonderful! And if you can easily save a few dollars with tips like these? Even better!

Do you have any other great ideas for saving money on a vacation? Tell me about it! 

One thought on “How We’re Planning a “Budget” Anniversary Trip

  1. We can usually find pretty good deals on They will run 20-30% off specials at times. I don’t know if they are on ebates, but you can get swagbucks with them. Plus, for every 10 nights you stay through them, you earn a night free that can be used anywhere (it’s good for the average price of what you’ve been paying for those 10 nights. So, if you pay an average of $89 a night for the 10 nights you have booked, your free night is good for $89.)
    We have also used a couple of times. You can buy discounted gift cards. So, for instance, we’ve bought a $20 Subway card for $18.40 (or something like that. It varies). It’s not a ton of savings, but it’s like having a coupon, and every little bit counts! 🙂 Most discounts are 1%-7%. There are all kinds of cards for sale on there.

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