Has your life succumbed to boring monotony—waking up, going to work, coming home, and going to bed? Do you wish you could take a well-deserved vacation, but fear you can’t afford it? Fear not, intrepid traveler, because there are actually quite a few ways to save money on your trip! Read over these tips and insights, and start planning your dream getaway!
Should You Stay or Should You Go Now?
Airline tickets, hotel prices, and gas prices all fluctuate depending on the times and seasons. Before you book your tickets and reservations, plan ahead and scope out the prices of different dates, to ensure that you get the best possible price. It doesn’t always have to be a game of vulture, though. There are plenty of other resources to help you with the planning process!
- The Right Times – As mentioned above, travel prices change frequently. Summer is often the most expensive time to travel, but according to USA Today, flying on the actual day of a holiday is a lot cheaper. Also, try to fly during “holiday dead zones,” such as January, February, early spring, and early November and December.
- Gas Prices – Also keep in mind that gas stations switch their type of gas used between the summer and winter seasons. Summer gas is typically more expensive than winter gas, which is important to remember if you will be driving a lot, or travelling by car instead of plane.
- Just the Bare Necessities – When making travel plans, there are a lot of extra costs that can get in the way, such as checking multiple bags, priority seating, seat assignment, snacks, and meals. Ask yourself if you absolutely need everything the airline offers, and see if it is possible to do away with the extras.
- Speaking of Luggage… – Whether you are checking bags into cargo or just taking carry-ons, overweight bags can incur hefty fees! And if you’re forced to unpack your bags to keep them below the weight limit, you may have to leave behind some precious items. Check the weight of your bags beforehand, just to be sure.
- A Packaged Deal – There are some airlines or hotels that will offer an airline ticket and a hotel reservation (with maybe some additional features) for a total cost cheaper than booking the ticket and reservation separately. Trailfinders is one website that will frequently offer these deals, but a travel agency will most likely provide you with the same information!
- The Internet is Your Best Friend – There are plenty of websites to help you get the best deals, especially if you don’t want to go through a travel agency. There is Trailfinders, explained above, Skyscanner, which compares airline prices for the date you’re travelling, and Travelocity, which collects different deals on hotels and airline tickets. Of course, these are just a few, and a simple Google search can lead you to a lot more!
On the Road Again!
So! You picked your dates, found the cheapest tickets, and picked the right hotel! Your itinerary is all set, but can you still save money, even as you’re traveling? Of course you can! Realize the inner penny-pincher within you and utilize these tips:
- Feed Yourself – Food in an airport or on an airplane can be expensive, and often doesn’t even taste good! Or, if you’re taking a road trip, stopping at fast food places all the time can also get pricey, and isn’t very healthy. Pack your own snacks and meals for the trip. It saves money, and you’re always guaranteed to like it.
- Skimp on Sleep – This tip is especially helpful for traveling by car. If you’re going long distances, try to drive through the night, or have another member of your party drive so you can catch up on some z’s. Also, sleeper trains and overnight ferries, though not common options in America, are cheap ways to travel overnight in Europe.
- Parking – If you’re taking a plane, driving to the airport and leaving your car in their parking lots can be ridiculously expensive. Call a car service and have them drive you to the airport, or ask a friend to drive you in exchange for your company during the drive!
- Chugga Chugga Choo Choo! – Train rides are also an alternative way to travel. If you’re travelling domestically in America, going long distances may require a bit more finesse, but travelling by train in Europe is quite easy, and may be cheaper than paying a lot for gas!
- Cheap Hotels – If you absolutely have to stay overnight in the middle of your travels, try to stay at cheap hotels or motels until you reach your destination. They may not be the nicest, but they’re certainly cheaper than staying at a four star hotel for just a night. Sometimes, to be a true penny-pincher, you have to make sacrifices.
Now You’re Here!
You finally made it to your location of choice! You saved on your plane ticket or your gas, and hopefully found some cheap hotel reservations! However, there are some alternative places to stay as opposed to traditional hotels, which can save you money in the long run!
- House Swap – Instead of staying at a hotel, you may find another family willing to rent out their house, or do a complete house swap. You can use the websites, Homeexchange, Homebase-Hols, Homelink, or Intervac to find available houses in your area of interest!
- Pool vs Beach – A nice hotel with a private pool can be expensive, so booking a hotel on a free beach might be a great alternative! However, a beach-side location can also be expensive, so ask yourself if swimming is really necessary. A hotel without a pool and away from a beach would be the cheapest yet.
- Camping! – Perhaps your ideal getaway is just that, getting away from the stresses of reality. Escaping into the wilderness can be really cheap, but only if you go old-school, Man vs Wild style. Bringing your own tent and supplies and living off the land wouldn’t be so expensive, but renting or buying an RV, paying for gas for the RV, and paying for a campsite can really rack up the costs.
- Wi-Fi and Extra Costs – In this great, modern age of technology, Wi-Fi is a commodity that is quickly becoming free. Check to see if your living arrangements are forcing you to pay for Wi-Fi. If they are, and you know you’ll be using it a lot, find somewhere where the Wi-Fi is free, otherwise you could be paying a lot without even realizing it!
What Do You Do Now?
You might think that paying for the living and travel arrangements is the most expensive part of the trip, but don’t forget that once you get to your location, you aren’t just going to sit in the hotel all day! Of course having fun on your vacation doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, so here’s what you can do:
- Plan Your Own Adventures – Signing up for local or organized tours can be very expensive. Take matters into your own hands and do some exploring on your own. This way, you can investigate your country of choice at your own pace, and you’ll only have to pay for transportation and food!
- Smart Shopping – Souvenirs can be really expensive, especially if you’re in a typically tourist area. Is what you’re buying absolutely necessary? Can you live without it? If bringing back a memento is absolutely essential, try to get something free, like pictures or shells from the beach!
- Transportation Passes – Are you going to Europe, or travelling around in America? Either way, there are probably different passes for trains or busses that you can buy. Paying a higher, one-time fee can be cheaper than paying lower, multiple fees.
- Sightseeing Passes – Popular cities in European countries may offer sightseeing passes, which covers transportation and discounts for museums, restaurants, theaters, concerts, and the like.
- Walking! – Especially if you’re staying in a city, walking is a great, free alternative to paying for transportation. It’s also very healthy for you, and will help you stay in shape if you’re indulging in a lot of the local cuisine!
If You Insist on Driving…
Be wary of how expensive it can get! Common fees include:
- Rental cars
- Rental car insurance
- Paying for gas
- Fines for poor driving
Also remember the gas changes between the summer and winter seasons!
One of the best things about vacation is the local cuisine! Even if you brought your own food for the actual travel, chances are you’re going to have to go to a restaurant at some point! Food is a necessity, but that doesn’t mean you have sell your soul to eat.
- Don’t Eat Like a Tourist – When traveling abroad, it’s fun to do the typical “tourist” attractions, but avoid eating in restaurants near these events. Go to a more local quarter that doesn’t normally cater to tourists. The prices will be cheaper!
- No Minibars! – This is typically a good rule of thumb to follow no matter where you’re travelling. Leave the minibar closed, and try to avoid room service at your hotel. Both can be overpriced.
- Hotel Restaurants – Does your hotel have an included restaurant? Be wary of these, as they can be very expensive, especially if you’re staying at a four or five star hotel. Be adventurous and find some local restaurants or cafes!
- Tips – It is customary in America to tip at least %15, but in Europe, the tip is usually included in the bill. Depending on where you travel to, pay attention to this. It may save you some pocket money, which adds up over time!
- Drinking – Ask for water whenever you can, as long as you aren’t in the mood for a smoothie or a cold Coke. Water is most often free, and cuts down on your calorie intake! If you want to drink, though, ask for local wines, draught beers, or opt for a bar instead of a restaurant. All of those options will save you money.
Hopefully you’re saving a lot of money on your trip now! There are still a few miscellaneous rules to follow, though!
- Roaming Charges – Does your cellphone plan cover wherever you’re going? If not, it’s probably better to leave your phone at home and just pick up a cheap pay-on-the-go phone.
- Health Issues – Travelling to the tropics or a jungle will definitely require money for shots. Consider going somewhere else if these shots are too expensive!
- Changing Money – Going to another country will most definitely mean that you have to change money. Unfortunately, the rates fluctuate every day, and there’s no surefire way to ensure that you get the best deal. Keep this in mind if you’re travelling abroad!
- Have Fun! – Vacations can be expensive, but if you don’t have a good time, all that money you spent will be for nothing. Don’t sweat the small stuff, be adaptable, and make the best out of your situation!