Car Free Vacations

July and August are peak vacation times in the US. Most Americans do some sort of traveling over the Summer, and those who don’t usually wish they could- and would if they had a little extra money. There’s no doubt about it, vacations are expensive. But one simple way to cut your travel bills significantly is to take a vacation from driving.

Typically, the more tourist-friendly a destination is, the easier it is to get around without a car. Whether you’re visiting a bustling urban center like New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans or Chicago, a beach town in a place like Florida or South Carolina, or something even more ‘vacationy’ like indulging in an inclusive resort or going on a cruise, any time you’re spending behind the wheel is time you’re not relaxing and enjoying time off with friends and family. So why not reduce time behind the wheel to zero and save some money into the bargain?

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that cars can affect the typical vacation budget. Supposing we want to go to Disney World for a week and have a car handy at all times. Long term parking at BWI is $8 a day. We fly to MCO and book a car at Enterprise, a quick websearch of which quotes us around $165 for a week’s rental of an intermediate 4-door. We’re also probably going to spend about $50 filling the tank at the end of the week with Orlando Gas prices currently around $3.28/gal. Orlando being what it is, your hotel may offer free parking, but most hotels in America don’t. Some hotels get as much as $30 a day in parking fees, and if your hotel doesn’t offer free parking, you’re pretty much stuck paying it because you’re not likely to be able to walk easily to free street parking, especially without local knowledge. the Hotel we looked at as an example for this trip was the Hilton Lake Buena Vista which charges $13 a day for parking. According to our calculations, a week of driving at Disney will cost you, at a minimum, $362. This doesn’t include incidentals like parking anywhere besides your hotel.

$362 isn’t exactly a fortune, but it is a significant sum considering you could probably get around Orlando just as easily without a car. Disney has a wide range of free transportation options including buses, boats and the monorail, and many hotels offer free courtesy shuttle service to get you where you need to go. It’s unlikely that in a week in Disney you’d ever need to use Orlando’s public transit system but that’s an option as well. And of course the concierge can get you a cab at any time of the day or night.

The bottom line is that no matter where you go a little planning can result in a lot of savings. Finding the perfect hotel that’s right downtown or on the beach means you won’t have to go far to get where you want to be, and even if it costs a few extra bucks a night you can still save money and hassle in the long run.