Going on vacation is always something to look forward to no matter the size of your budget. Taking the time to do a little planning and budgeting will help you enjoy yourself without having to be super thrifty when you get back home. Here are 10 travel hacks that will help you make the most of your vacation budget.
1. Find Local Deals
Wherever your travels take you, always look for a local deal. Taking advantage of coupons you find in the grocery store or at the newsstand can make a difference in your budget. You can talk to residents or drivers to find out where some of the best deals in town are.
2. Choose More Affordable Dining
Instead of going to Michelin star restaurants, you might want to try more local favorites, diners, pubs and mom and pop restaurants. When it comes to dining, a big name chef with a high priced menu isn’t always the best eats in town. You’re sure to get a fine dining experience, but you’ll get a great experience at a diner, too. You can eat, drink and be merry on a budget, and not feel as though you’re missing out on a thing.
3. Take Advantage of Free and Inexpensive Activities
Just about anywhere you travel, there are going to be activities that you can enjoy that are either free or not far from it. Taking advantage of national parks and museums are just two options that can be very easy on your vacation budget. If you’re interested in popular museums like The Louvre or The Van Gogh you may need to budget more time and money, but visiting the Newseum or The Shoe Museum, you can get your educational fix without spending too much, and you’ll be avoiding the crowds.
4. Fly Early, Fly Late
If you want to save on your airfare it’s a good idea to fly when most people don’t want to. Early morning and late night flights are usually the cheapest. You can even try booking flights during the middle of the week, instead of the weekend. Here’s how you can find more info.
5. Avoid Peak Season
Avoiding peak season doesn’t mean missing out on sights and activities. It means missing out on the crowds in most instances. There are some destinations where peak season really is the best time to visit, like Alaska. Because of its proximity to the north pole, spring and summer last a few short months and snow, ice and darkness take over. Peak season will vary by destination, but, but keep in mind that traveling during holiday seasons are a sure way to pay inflated prices for everything from airfare to hotels. And lots of travelers travel during the warmer months because children are out of school.
6. Hotel Alternatives
Who said you have to stay in a 5-star hotel? There are many options when it comes to lodging. There are vacation homes, home exchange programs and home sharing programs like Airbnb. Hostels have a big economical advantage. They are better suited to solo travelers and small groups, but as long as you don’t mind sharing a bathroom (maybe even a room sometimes) you should find significant savings with this option. If you have friends that live near your destination, you may want to consider asking if you can stay with them. Vacation rentals are better suited for families or larger groups. Not only do you get a lot of great amenities, like a yard, kitchen, and laundry, but you can also usually come across deep savings.
7. Go on a Volunteer Trip
A volunteer trip is a true money saver. Part of your vacation time will be spent doing whatever the volunteer mission is, but these types of trips usually give the volunteers free time to explore the country. Turning your vacation into an opportunity to share yourself or your talents with other people is greatly rewarding. Of course, you probably won’t have as much time for seeing the sights and going on excursions as you would if you went on plain old vacation, but helping, but the satisfaction of giving may make up for it. Depending on the organization, you may only have to pay your airfare, meals and lodging are usually taken care of. International Volunteer HQ, Love Volunteers, local churches and social clubs are just a few organizations that facilitate these types of trips.
8. Watch for Deals
Once you’ve made the decision to go on vacation and have settled on a date, it’s time to watch for deals. If you’re an avid traveler, you’ve probably been watching deals all along and you’re planning to vacation around the time of a specific deal you want to take advantage of. Deals save you money that you can either save or put toward another part of your vacation. And remember to continue watching for deals even after you’ve made plans. Reservations can always be cancelled and rebooked at a better price.
9. Take a Shorter Trip
Instead of taking a 7-day trip, try taking a 5-day trip or 7 days instead of 10. When your trip is shorter, you won’t have as many opportunities to spend money. Taking a shorter trip means that you have to plan a little better and prioritize the things you want to see and do. Planning activities ahead means that you will be more likely to seek out the best price and time frame for that particular activity. Being organized allows you to make the most of your time and your vacation budget.
10. Book a Bundle
When you can, it is a good idea to book your hotel, flight and car altogether. These bundled deals can save you quite a bit of money, because the site or company you are purchasing with is able to give you a bigger discount. The more business you give them, the more savings they pass on to you. Not only does this save you a ton of time, because you don’t have to go searching multiple sites, but it also keeps a few more dollars in your wallet.
Whether you have a limited budget or not, saving money is always a good thing. When you play your budget right, you might be surprised at just how soon you’ll be able to take another vacation. Or you might be able to afford an awesome souvenir that will capture the essence of your journey.