The pandemic put a halt on travel plans for more than a year. Instead of flying across the country, most of us were stuck at home keeping a safe distance from our loved ones. Now that more and more people have access to the vaccine, though, the world has started to open up again. While COVID-19 is by no means over, people feel less hesitant about packing their bags and going on an adventure.
Chances are, you’ve been going a little stir crazy for the last 18 months or so. We get it, but that doesn’t mean you should spontaneously book a flight overseas. While traveling is great, it can be expensive if you’re not careful. In this article, we highlight six tips for traveling without breaking the bank:
1. Have a Plan
To make sure you stay on budget, have a plan beforehand. Figure out where you’d like to go and what you want to do while you’re there. You don’t need to have everything figured out. But the more thoroughly you plan, the easier it’ll be to budget.
For instance, if you’re traveling to a walkable city, you probably won’t have to spend too much money getting around once there. On the other hand, if you’re traveling to Phoenix, going from one place to another will cost you.
Having a plan in place can also save you money on transportation to your destination, especially if you’re flying. Your ticket will be cheaper if you don’t buy it at the last minute. Not only should you try to purchase ahead of time, but you should opt to travel during the middle of the week. That’s because travel prices are usually lower during the week than on the weekend. Plus, you’ll spend less time standing in line at security because there are fewer travelers on weekdays than on weekends.
2. Be Mindful With Your Credit Card
Are you trying to stay on budget during your vacation? Then consider limiting the credit cards you bring with you. According to research, people have a habit of spending more money when they use their credit cards than when they use cash. In fact, a study conducted by Dun & Bradstreet discovered that people spend 12% to 18% more when using credit cards. If you have a tendency to swipe mindlessly, your credit card could get you into financial trouble.
When you use a debit card instead, you’ll have to limit yourself to spending money you already have. There’s no risk of running up debt as you explore your destination.
3. Travel During the Off-Season
Speaking of cost-effectiveness, it’s usually cheaper to travel during the off-season. Sure, your kids might be out of school during the summer, but you’ll spend more money traveling in July than you would at other times. So consider taking that trip to Italy in early October, when the weather is still mild and the crowds have dissipated. Chances are, you’ll be able to sell your child’s principal on your trip’s educational value.
Of course, the off-season varies by destination, and with it, your overall costs. For instance, traveling to Hawaii is usually more expensive between December and April. That’s when the weather is at its best, and tourists flock to the island’s sunny shores. Consider a midwinter trip to Chicago instead. You can enjoy its many cultural attractions in the warm indoors and save a mint besides.
4. Replace Hotels With Hostels
Hotels are often the first lodging choice travelers consider, and why not? They’re abundant, convenient, and full of endless amenities for customers to enjoy. But while having 24-hour access to a gym is great, is it worth paying such a high fee? Maybe or maybe not — it depends on your budget.
If you’re looking for a way to save money, consider hostels instead of hotels and resorts. Hostels are a more budget-friendly option, but that doesn’t make them a lesser one. You can find a highly rated hostel in a safe place that offers different advantages from a hotel. Among these are fully equipped kitchens that allow you to prepare your own meals (more savings!) and the chance to meet fellow travelers.
5. Travel in a Group
If you can split the costs among everyone, there’s budget safety in numbers. An oceanside room for two might set you back $500 a night. But a beach house that sleeps 12 can be had for $1,500 — you do the math. Group accommodations also generally offer full kitchens, reducing the number of expensive restaurant meals you’ll have to pay for.
Of course, this tip won’t work for everyone. If you want a romantic trip with your partner or a quick getaway with your kids, traveling with a large group might not appeal. But in the event that you go somewhere with friends, consider driving together or sharing accommodations so you can cut back on expenses.
6. Find Free and Low-Cost Activities
When traveling somewhere new, you might feel inclined to visit tourist hotspots. Whether that’s a well-known restaurant or a snorkeling excursion in the Pacific, these activities might feel like absolute musts. But there are ways to revel in your new surroundings that don’t require big bucks. Replace that $100 snorkeling tour with a visit to a municipal beach. You’ll still get your ocean time, but you’ll pay for parking at most.
By avoiding tourist traps, you can save money and maybe even have a better time. Get off the beaten path and eat at local restaurants as opposed to the ones closest to your hotel. Visit free museums or walk around different parts of the city yourself instead of paying for a guided tour. Regardless of where you’re going, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something fun that costs little to nothing.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it shouldn’t be. By planning ahead, shopping for cheap tickets, and being mindful of your budget, you can avoid overspending. With these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your vacation without breaking the bank.