Vacation travel is on the rise, but so are travel costs. Increasing demand is driving up gas prices, hotel, and airline costs, making planning the perfect vacation challenging for most people. However, with some thoughtful planning using these cost-saving tips, you can stretch your travel bucks a lot further on a memorable vacation.
Set a Strict Budget
Don’t start booking travel until you determine how much you can afford to spend on your vacation. Allocate specific amounts for accommodations, transportation, food, activities, and souvenirs. It helps to get a baseline understanding of costs associated with where you’re going to see how realistic your budget is.
Travel During Off-Peak Seasons
Traveling during peak season ensures you will pay higher prices. You’ll find more affordable options when you plan your travel during off-peak seasons or less popular months, and you’ll avoid crowds. Studies show that airfares for holiday season travel averaged 41% more than those booked for non-holiday season travel. They also show an average of 25% savings when booking flights six months out as opposed to one to two months out.
Be Flexible with Dates
Flight and hotel prices can fluctuate significantly from one day to the next. So, be flexible with your travel dates and use fare comparison websites to find the lowest-priced travel days. For example, flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays is typically cheaper than flying on Mondays and Fridays, which are busy commute days.
Open a Travel-Friendly Bank Account
Whether you’re going on a big trip or a small one, it’s likely you’ve been putting money away to make the trip happen for some time. It’s often helpful to keep this money in a separate account so you can see how much you’ve accumulated in advance and track spending more easily while on the trip. It’s hard to see what you’ve blown through on a trip so far when you’re looking at your everyday bank account with bills and other reoccurring charges coming out.
Plus, you’ll want an account for traveling that allows for unlimited ATM withdrawals abroad and won’t charge you transaction fees. This is huge and can easily save you hundreds of dollars!
Consider Alternative Accommodations
Look beyond traditional hotels. You can often find great vacation rentals through Airbnb and Vrbo, which can be more cost-effective, especially if you’re traveling with a group of people. Watch out for those extra fees, though. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you sign your entire entertainment budget away in exorbitant cleaning fees!
Save While You’re There
Travel budgets tend to blow up around all the small stuff, such as dining out, transportation, activities, and souvenirs. While it’s fun to splurge once or twice at a nice restaurant, you can save a substantial amount of money by dining in, which is why it’s essential to find accommodations with a kitchenette.
You can also save by shopping for groceries and snacks so you can always have food on hand. Also, you won’t have to buy expensive bottled water at the airport or in tourist locations if you pack your own water canister.
Research Free and Low-Cost Activities
The costs of activities and attractions can often exceed other travel costs. Get the most out of your vacation bucks by looking for free or low-cost activities like free walking tours, museums with free entry days, and outdoor activities like hiking or picnics to layer on top of a couple of well-chosen attractions.
If possible, confine your packing to carry-on luggage. This will save you those annoying check-bagged fees and make it much easier to get around, especially if you’re using public transportation.
Use Public Transportation
Public transportation is often cheaper than renting a car or taking taxis. It’s also a great way to experience local culture.
Sign Up for Travel Deals and Rewards Programs
If your travel plans are far enough ahead on the calendar, consider joining a loyalty or rewards travel program offered by airlines, hotels, and credit cards to accumulate points towards free air, car rental, and hotel accommodations. Some hotel credit cards offer free hotel night certificates. Plus, some cards offer additional benefits and perks, such as upgrades to elite status.
Look for Bundled Deals
Some online booking websites offer bundled travel deals that can save you money by booking your flight, hotel, and car rental together. Shop and compare a few booking websites to see who offers the best deal.
We all love to travel, and we all love to save money. Unfortunately, the two don’t always go hand in hand. By incorporating these money-saving tips into your vacation planning, you can enjoy a memorable and budget-friendly trip without compromising the overall experience.
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