Budget Travel: 10 Things you are Forgetting to Do
There is nothing worse than taking a vacation you have been counting down the days to, and coming home to find out that dream vacay just cost you debt up to your eyeballs. You had your fun and now it’s time to pay for it, maybe even for the next five years. Or, just as bad, you want to take a vacation but can’t seem to save up the funds to do so. Your trip has been continuously pushed back for so long, that now it’s just easier to dream rather than do. You decided to start a family, and that dream floats even farther away. So, how do you hear about all these people that have four trips planned in a year? How can they afford to travel when they have five kids? With a few tips to help you budget your travel, it can turn the fantasy of drinking endless margaritas on the beach into a reality.
My number one tip for budget travel is to go during off-season. This is the low time when places tend to make the least amount of money. Everywhere you visit will be different, so do some research before you go to find out when the off-season is. Hotels, airlines, and the travel industries tend to push lower prices in order to entice consumers to book during their slow times. If you can handle cooler and hotter whether patterns, and aren’t afraid of a little stormy weather, this will be the best money saver.
Plan your vacation early, and give yourself sometime to save up. Saving money can prevent you from coming home to racked up credit cards. We like to put away 50-100 dollars every week to save for vacations. I have heard of people putting away five to ten dollars a day even. No matter what you decide, develop a budget and stick to it. You can even budget the total cost of the vacation (flights, food, living, transportation, shopping, activities, etc.) then break that down to how much you will need to put away each month.
This next one goes against everything I said in the previous paragraph, but be flexible with dates and location. If you are flexible often times you can find heavily discounted package rates. Travel agencies often work with hotels and airlines to get you discounts for certain dates. I typically use Cheap Caribbean or a more local travel agent called Timptravel. If you head to these websites they have several different packaged trips with pre-set dates to help you budget your travel. If you are available the dates they have picked you will likely get a hotel, flight, and car-rental bundled into one low price. It is the travel industries way to entice people to keep traveling even during off season.
Another tip for traveling on a budget is to travel with a group. If you can swing, it travelling with friends or family can cut the cost down substantially. You can rent a house, split the cost, and have plenty of room for everyone to eat, sleep, and move around. Just to give you an example, a home in Greece for nine nights could cost about $1500 to $2000 if you are by yourself. However say you go with three groups of people that cost is now $500-$700. Another great way to save on housing is by using Couchsurfing. This website offers up rooms in residents’ homes, all over the world, for travelers to stay in. You can also checkout Worldpackers. This website hooks you up with food and lodging in exchange for a coupe hours of work. If you are planning on staying a week or more in one location, this might be a great option for you.
Cooking your own meals is a great way to cut back on spending while on vacation. When we travel our first stop at our destination is the grocery store. We will typically pick up a few breakfast and lunch items in order to cut back on eating out costs. While I would definitely recommend experiencing local food doing it sparingly can save you a lot. Maybe only go to dinner every other night and cook dinner the rest. An added positive is you get to experience how the locals shop, and even try to cook like them. Experience what other countries have in their grocery stores.
Research different credit card companies and find the right travel card for you. I know what you are thinkng, “but Kailah you said we won’t be in credit card debt”. Hear me out though. When you use a credit card you can get extra rewards, miles, or even cashback. You just want to be sure you have the money to pay that credit card off immediately or as soon as you get back. It might be worth checking into cards that don’t charge international fees, or if you feel comfortable take cash to avoid the fees.
Research free activities. Of coarse there are going to be the iconic things you will want to see and do when traveling. However, you would be surprised at the amount of free stuff you can find to do when traveling. Go for a hike, a walk on the beach, or even climb to the top of a car park and watch the sunset. The opportunities are endless. I always recommend looking for alternatives to the expensive activities you could possibly do for free.
Be ok with walking or using public transportation. If you stay in the heart of the town it is possible to walk everywhere and save money on getting around. Car rentals can be expensive, and Ubers start to add up. Cut that cost out by finding other means of getting around.
Travel somewhere close to home and make it a staycation. Road trips can be a lot less expensive than traveling oversees or to another country. If you drive gas tends to be much cheaper than flying. You can camp somewhere to cut out hotel costs. Or, better yet cook your own foods. Instead of going out for those fancy drinks make your own and have a game night. If you do get a hotel split the cost with friends, and maybe plan for something that has a kitchen so you can make your own food and drinks or eat leftovers.
Cut out minor addictions. Listen I get it, you are thinking you need that morning latte and it only costs you a mere $2.00-$3.00. I have been in your shoes though. I was buying Starbucks almost every day for a year, and I finally realized that was money I could be saving to go on vacation. So while it doesn’t seem like much $2.00 a day turns into roughly $730 a year. That could get you a plane ticket to an all-inclusive resort with unlimited coffee. So whatever it is coffee, soda, tea, etc. switch to making it at home or cut it out all-together.
Budget travel is definitely not easy however, with a few minor changes here and there anyone can do it. I want to hear from you. Is there anything you have done, out of the norm, in order to be able to go on vacation? Drop a comment and let me know! Now that you have your trip budgeted be sure to check out what you need to pack!