Traverse City Vacation on a Budget

Traverse City is a favorite year round family vacation destination. From wine tours to golf, skiing, hiking and stunning beaches this Northern Michigan destination has something everyone. A little planning can help you enjoy the best that Traverse City has to offer even on a tight budget and a large group. Follow some of these tips to do more for less on your vacation this year.

Major Vacation Expenses

No matter where you vacation, if you dont plan in advance its easy to overspend in these areas:

  • Transportation 
  • Lodging 
  • Food
  • Entertainment

Expense Slashing Tips


When you start planning a vacation, the first thing you may think of is to book a Traverse City area hotel. Its a common practice to stay at a hotel during your vacation, but it can also be cramped, limited and expensive.  You may be surprised to discover that if you are staying for a week or would require multiple hotel rooms even for a short duration a Traverse City vacation rental home may provide a significant savings.

In addition to being budget friendly, vacation rental homes allow you to enjoy a home away from home. Here are a few of the non-monetary benefits.

  •         Private entrances offer privacy 
  •      Multiple bedrooms make it easier for parents to keep kids close and still have their own room.  
  •      Shared living space allows groups to relax, play games and eat comfortably together.  
  •      Full kitchen lets you prepare some meals at your vacation rental if you choose and makes it easy to keep snacks and leftovers available.  
  •      You can select a vacation rental with the ambiance you want.  For example rustic, Victorian or modern.  
  •      You can choose a vacation rental home with unique amenities not typically provided by a hotel.  For example, located on a quiet fishing lake, with a large yard, access to a private pool, on a wooded lot or with a private fire pit.


Tips for Saving on Traverse City Vacation Rentals:

1.     Book Early: If you book well in advance, you will get better rates and have more options to choose from.

2.     Weekly Rates: Plan your trip so that you will be in the same Traverse City vacation rental for a week or two. Vacation rentals usually offer special weekly rates that will save you money.

3.     Location of Rental: Try to book a Traverse City vacation rental that is near your entertainment. If you are planning on participating in a festival and shopping downtown pick a location in downtown Traverse City.  If you want to spend the week communing with nature, then select a location in the woods.  This will reduce your transportation costs and may allow you to go without a rental car.  


The cost of travel to North Michigan and during your vacation can be made manageable.

Tips on Saving on Travel:

1.     Book in Advance: The cost for airline tickets and car rental for local travel is usually higher the later you book i.e. if you book a few months prior to your vacation, it will probably be cheaper than if you book a few weeks prior to your vacation.

2.     Use the Internet: Search online for discounts and special travel packages from the comfort of your home.

3.     Booking Date: If you book your tickets on a weekday instead of a weekend, reserve more days and plan your vacation so that it isnt during peak season you can save.

4.     Transportation: Just like air travel and lodging it can pay to reserve your rental car in advance.  Consider renting from a location off the airport property for better rates.  Consider a hybrid if you want to save on fuel costs while exploring northern Michigan. If you are staying in downtown Traverse City you may be able to go without a rental car altogether. 


Enjoying local food can be a big part of your vacation experience but you dont want it to break your budget. 

Tips on Saving:

1.     Cook Yourself: If you have a Traverse City vacation rental with a fully furnished kitchen, you will be able to cook wholesome, healthy, and tasty meals. Buying food at the local Traverse City or Leelanau farmers market and preparing them at home can allow you to explore local favors on a budget.

2.     Eat Lunch Out: Exploring restaurants on a vacation is fun, and it need not be expensive. Dine at a gourmet restaurant for lunch, instead of dinner. This will save you money since good restaurants usually charge lower rates for lunch.

3.     Pack Lunch: When you leave your house to head to the ski slopes, water park or festival pack snacks and a lunch. This will keep you from being forced to eat at tourist traps where there may be limited options and inflated prices.


Entertainment Expenses

The cost for skiing, shows, hot air balloon rides and wine tours can add up. The best way to save on big-ticket items is to book in advance online. You will probably receive a better rate for booking in advance and may be able to locate a special online coupon.  You can also look for discount coupons at the Traverse City or Leelanau visitors center.


Following the tips provided will help you enjoy your Traverse City vacation without breaking your budget.