Have you taken that one perfect trip, the one that was just so epic you can’t stop talking about it? Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on comfortable accommodations and decent flight times. In fact, savvy travelers already know how to maximize their travel budget and take advantage of low prices on travel packages, airline tickets and other travel-related expenses. Planning ahead will usually give you the upper hand when it comes to playing the vacation-booking game, and there are several tricks and tactics you can use to slash those costs even further.
Vacations are well-deserved treats and money shouldn’t be a cloud over these precious times away.
Follow the following tips for staying within your budget on vacation so money concerns don’t interfere with your good times:
1) Start planning early with a Budget in Mind
The key to optimal vacation spending is you guessed it – planning and budgeting. About 8 percent of your total yearly budget can go toward “fun” spending like travel. If you love to travel, you can increase this portion of your budget by cutting other areas. When trip planning, balance your total costs based on 1) where you’re going; 2) how you plan to get there; and 3) what you’ll do once there.
– Book sharing apartments or budget resorts instead of star categories hotels.
Suggested site: https://www.airbnb.com/
Airbnb is a website for people to rent out lodging.It has over 1,000,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Founded in August 2008 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, the company is privately owned and operated by Airbnb, Inc. Users of the site must register and create a personal online profile before using the site. Every property is associated with a host whose profile includes recommendations by other users, reviews by previous guests, as well as a response rating and private messaging system.
– Negotiate hotel rates: If you can’t find a great deal on a hotel and flight package through a third-party travel site, call the hotel or resort directly and inquire about the best available deals. Sometimes the rates extended by the hotel are lower than those published online. Hotels may need to fill rooms at the last minute, and some will be open to negotiating a rate or package deal.
– Create a daily cash allowance: After the initial investments of transportation and hotel, set a daily budget for expected food, drink, activities and souvenirs/shopping. Inflate the number by 10 to 15 percent as a cushion for small emergencies or unforeseen expenses. Vacations are a great time to practice the “cash diet.” Once you arrive at your daily allowance, set aside that amount in separate envelopes for each day and stash the envelopes in the hotel safe. Each day, use only what’s in one envelope. Your credit card can be saved for emergencies.
– Subscribe to deal sites: Groupon Getaways, Travelzoo and Living Social Escapes are three major travel deal sites that will keep you in the know about the latest deals and discounts. You can also sign up for free, membership-only sites like Jet Setter to get exclusive, negotiated rates for many luxury hotels and travel packages throughout the country.
2) Fly to alternate airports.
When you are heading to a major city or other hub with multiple airports, consider all your options. Flights to alternate airports can be slightly less expensive than flying into a larger, international airport in the same city. In some cases, you might also be closer to your final destination and can skirt traffic. Just make sure to calculate taxi fares from all airports before making your decision.
3) Book and fly on the right day of the week.
Shop for airfare on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, advises Gabe Saglie, Travelzoo’s senior editor. Most airlines publish their sale fares on Tuesday, and this is when competition to match those fares begins each week. You’re also likely to find a better deal when you fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. This might mean you have to wait a few days to secure that vacation package, but you could end up saving significantly on airline tickets.
4) Seek out off-peak deals.
Do your homework to find out which destinations are currently in their off-peak season. You’ll discover that many destinations around the world have attractive package deals during the spring and early summer months. Traveling during the off-peak season could save you up to 50 percent or more on your entire vacation package.
5) Research ground transportation options.
Don’t wait until you arrive at the airport to figure out how you are going to get to your hotel or resort (some budget hotels do not have facility of pick up and drop, but they definitely will guide you how to reach their place). Research taxi service providers and rental car companies before you leave so you can negotiate a rate or book a great deal.
6) Look for freebies and deals at your final destination.
Search for free attractions, events and guided tours at venues throughout the town or city you’re visiting. Keeping activity costs low means you can spend more on a great meal and splurge on other travel expenses. You could also check the daily deal sites at the city you’re visiting to see what types of discounts are available for local activities, events and dining destinations. Consider buying a city pass or similar activity card that lets you visit several attractions for one low price.
7) Travel light
Over-packing can lead to extra checked baggage fees, so make sure you’re packing only what you need. If you’re planning an extended stay trip, get quotes from shipping service providers that will ship and pick up your items to your destination. In some cases, shipping your belongings instead of carrying them in a suitcase will be less expensive.
8) Be an Exchange Expert
You’ll get the best exchange rate at your destination (not at home), and usually at a bank ATM. Foreign banks will have lower exchange rates than commercial exchange counters. Exchange the total amount of money you can spend based on your budget.
9) Eat like a local
Hotel restaurants can often be much pricier than restaurants in the surrounding area. If you can’t afford to spend $30 each morning on the breakfast buffet, ask for recommendations for inexpensive cafes or sandwich shops nearby. Street food is another inexpensive option and is a great way to try authentic local cuisine. You can also save on breakfast, lunch and snacks—and experience local color—by buying fresh produce at local markets.
10) Do less traveling while you’re traveling
All of those train trips, cab rides, flights, and cruises will start to add up. Instead of seeing ten different cities on your trip, choose only a couple you really want to see and spend more time getting to know those better. This will also help you feel less travel fatigued, keeping you excited and energetic on your trip. And, when navigating the city, try to forgo public transport and walk. You’ll get to see a lot more of the city that way and will have a better chance of discovering something you likely would have missed riding on a bus.
Genie Tip: Do not completely rely on GPS maps when exploring the city/town. Do keep asking local people for the nearby attractions. Because some attractions are might not mentioned on web portals.
11) Shopping gifts
Before leaving, make a list of people to buy gifts for and how much you want to spend on each person. When you hit a nice shop where you can knock several gifts off your list, buy in bulk and negotiate a discount. Shop with your budget in mind.
12) Set aside an emergency fund
An emergency fund is important to consider, even if you (hopefully) never dip into it. This budget could include visits to an urgent care facility or the extra cost of buying over-the-counter medication in a pinch. Check with your insurance company to see if you’ll incur any out-of-network costs for a visit to the doctor, or consider purchasing travel insurance to offset any unforeseen medical expenses. Take a look at InsureMyTrip.com to compare travel insurance providers and plans and read customer reviews. For this (and all your vacation fees), make sure you diversify your funds; carry some cash, a credit card and an ATM card — but not all at once. Leave whatever you’re not carrying with you that day in your hotel safe. If a pickpocket manages to steal what’s on your person, you don’t want to be completely high and dry for the rest of your trip.
Genie Tip: Do mail (not e-mail) picture cards to your home address every time you visit new city. Once you back home and received all those postcards in your post box, it will take you back to those places. Because the joy of receiving a POSTCARD is way better than that of receiving a message 😉