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Money-Saving Tips for an Affordable Cape Cod & Islands Vacation

Need a vacation, but think you can’t afford one? With a little creativity and some advance planning, you may be able to take that much-needed vacation after all. Here are 10 ways to stretch your dollars without sacrificing fun on your summer vacation on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, or Nantucket:

Cape Cod Vacation Rental  - Cape Cod - Property ID 8917
Great Pond Vacation Rental - ID 8917

1. Stay at a vacation rental.

A vacation rental home is often cheaper than a hotel. Here’s the math: rent a 3-bedroom home for $2000/week. This is $286 per night for six people. Can you find two hotel rooms for that price per night? And imagine how much you can save by being able to cook at least some of your meals in the fully-equipped kitchen that comes with rental homes and condos. And think of the added space and privacy a home affords over a hotel room. Use the Power Search to find a home that meets your budget.

2. Share the cost with another family.

It’s very common for two or even three families to stay together in one rental home and divide costs and responsibilities. It can be lots of fun for kids and adults alike!

3. Watch for Owner Specials and Availability Alerts on

Our homeowners often offer deals or discounts to attract vacationers. You’ll find more of these specials closer to summer, when homeowners are trying to fill last-minute vacancies. Look for the rose-colored Owner Special or the purple Last Minute Availability Alert icon Last-Minute Availability Alert on listings. Learn more about using our Power Search or visit our Last-minute Availability Alerts and Deals page.

4. Vacation in the shoulder season.

Most vacation rentals are significantly less expensive during the shoulder season months of June and September. The rates are generally lower, and many homeowners offer shorter stays than a week. The weather can be just as warm and beautiful as in the summer, and, of course, there are much fewer crowds. Avoiding the high summer season will save you money on all sorts of things, including a beach sticker, for example, because most beaches require stickers only from the last week in June until Labor Day.

Cape Cod Springtime Daffodils

5. Consider a property on a lake or pond.

Want to vacation in a waterfront property but lack the wallet to pay top dollar for one? Consider a waterfront property on one of the many beautiful fresh and salt water lakes or ponds! Some even include small, sandy beaches or docks. The water is always calm and usually warm and clear. Plus, these homes are often a greater value compared to a seaside, waterfront property. And remember, there’s always a saltwater beach nearby, too, when you’re on the Cape or Islands!

6. Prepare your own meals.

With your own kitchen, you can make your own meals 24/7, saving lots of money over eating out. Many vacation rentals provide an outdoor grill, making it easy to BBQ right outside your door. Think about the daily savings just for a family of four. Imagine how much you could save for a larger group! With the money you save, we hope you will treat yourself at least once to the many wonderful Cape and Islands restaurants.

Prepare your own meals

7. Use coupons.

You’ll find plenty of food, activities, and shopping coupons in most Cape and Islands Chambers of Commerce and anywhere else that has local tourist information, including the Vacation Planner.

8. Find free fun.

There are plenty of fun things for you to do on the Cape and Islands without spending lots of money. Check out the Vacation Planner for activities, and be sure to scroll to the Events section – where you can even search by events that are free! And here are some articles on our site that may be helpful:

Stroll the local art galleries.

Bike, ride, hike, walk, run or roller blade on the many paved and unpaved trails in the area.

Attend one of the many outdoor band concerts that are held throughout the Cape all summer.

Take in a Cape Cod Baseball League game. This is the premiere collegiate summer league in the country, and many of today's Major League stars once played for one of the 10 Cape League teams.

Window shop and people watch in the many charming town centers.

Enjoy the beach during non-peak hours to fly a kite, collect seashells, take a leisurely walk, or just read a book.

Hit the local library to peruse the books and magazines and check your email.

There are so many ways to have a great time on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard while staying on a budget – Here are 18 activities that cost less than $25!

9. Provide entertainment the old-fashioned way.

Board games will provide hours of vacation fun for all ages. Bring family favorites such as Clue, Monopoly, Candy Land, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, or Scrabble. Many rental homes include a nice selection of board games, too. And, when was the last time you played a rousing game of charades? Are you a movie buff? Many vacation rentals also provide a DVD player as well as games and books. So, ask the homeowner about their collection, and bring movies from home or borrow them from your local library.

10. Bring your bikes.

In addition to leisurely bike rides, you can also use your bike as a main mode of transportation, saving you gas money – especially if you are vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. Lots of vacation rentals are close enough to the beach and other activities to ride your bike. And, if you bike to the beach, you won’t need to buy a beach sticker! There are numerous trails throughout the Cape and Islands, made for biking.

These are just a few tips to help you spend less and enjoy more during your Cape or Islands vacation. Follow these suggestions, and you’ll not only save money—you’ll also have a great vacation!

About Susan Hutchins

About Susan Hutchins: I joined the WeNeedaVacation team in 2012 and write website and blog content as well as promote through social media. Having grown up spending summers on Nantucket, I have a strong connection to Cape Cod and the Islands. I now live in New Hampshire with my husband, two children, and golden retriever, and we are frequent visitors to the Cape. I love running local road races, the Brewster in Bloom 5K being a favorite. My family enjoys biking on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, hiking in Nickerson State Park, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches (usually a dog friendly one!).