Tip of the Day Tuesday: Stretching your vacation budget

Now that summer has officially started for me, I am looking forward to our family vacation in a few weeks.  Since we’re on a budget, every dollar counts, and we look for every little way that we can find to stretch our vacation budget.

I have posted before about cash back sites such as Ebates, Shop at Home, and My Points.  I use these sites all of the time when I am shopping online, but I didn’t realize until recently that you can also book hotels, airfare, and rental cars using these sites!

We ended up finding a deal on a hotel that is part of the Marriott chain of hotels (we typically book through Marriott because we can usually find affordable prices at one of their chains, the rooms are typically clean, and they are family friendly).  I looked at the “cash back” offerings at all three sites and Shop at Home had the best incentive – 3% cash back, so I booked my reservation using their site. I am also a member of Marriott Rewards, and they have a promotion right now where you earn a free night at a Marriott hotel for every three “paid” nights from June 1st through August 31st, 2010 (you have to activate this promotion by June 30th in order to take advantage of it).  I also had a “bonus” promotion on my account where I will earn an additional free night for two “paid” nights from July 1st, 2010 through September 30, 2010.  So, we’ll earn some free nights that can be used toward another vacation!

I also cashed out for gift cards from some of the sites I belong to so that I can offset some of the meal expenses.  I got:

$25 “Darden” restaurant gift card (valid at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.) from Epoll.com
$25 Chili’s gift card from MyPoints
$20 Chili’s gift card from MySurvey
$25 Cracker Barrel gift card from my banking rewards (we earn rewards for debit card purchases through my bank!)
$10 Wendy’s gift card from my banking rewards

Here are some of the other “travel related” sites you can book services through using Ebates, My Points, and Shop at Home:

*1-800 Hotels
*Alamo Rent-a-car
*Days Inn
*Dollar car rentals
*Doubletree Hotels
*Embassy Suites
*Enterprise Rent-a-car
*Holiday Inn
*Jet Blue
*La Quinta
*Motel 6
*Quality Inn
*Southwest Vacations

How do you stretch your vacation budget?!