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With summer swiftly approaching, many of us are beginning to plan vacations for the warmer months and beyond. Many of us, however, postpone traveling or limit our vacations to just a few days, believing that lengthy vacations to exotic destinations fall outside of our budgets. These beliefs, however, are generally based on false assumptions and misconceptions. With the right planning and a willingness to be flexible and creative, anyone can travel affordably!
Are you looking to travel more this year? By considering the following factors, you can travel more extensively while saving money, allowing you to enjoy fantastic vacations without breaking the bank.
Plan Flights Carefully
If you do choose to fly to your destination, it’s important to do it right! Consider when you book your flight. Booking flights, for instance, is almost always cheapest on Sundays. Business people often book flights on Thursdays and Fridays, making these the most expensive days to book tickets. Weekend departure dates are generally fairly expensive. Mid-week departures, generally Tuesdays and Wednesdays, tend to result in the most affordable rates.
Be sure to do your flight research in the right way, too! Use sites and apps like Skyscanner to find good prices. Be sure to use the incognito function on your browser while searching, as failing to do so may result in airlines altering prices as a result of your repeated search queries.
Booking flights far in advance is the best way to score affordable prices. Last-minute flights are rarely cheaper! Buy tickets roughly two months before you fly, and book round-trip or multi-city tickets rather than multiple one-way tickets, which tend to cost more. If your home is located within the proximity of multiple airports, consider all of your options. Smaller, less mainstream airports sometimes offer the best ticket prices.
Keep Accommodations Cheap - or Free!
Whether you’re simply feeling bold or are looking for a way to make long-term travel more affordable, staying in unconventional places can be a great way to see the world on a budget. Go camping! If you’re feeling open and are willing to stay with locals, look into couchsurfing. If you don’t mind watching pets or taking care of someone’s home, look into services like MindMyHouse or HouseCarers, which may offer free or cheap accommodation to visitors who tend to their household needs. If you have a friend living in a particular destination, consider reaching out to them, too. You just might be able to stay with them for free!
If you’re looking to stay somewhere long-term, consider “earning your keep” by working on a farm or for a family in a destination of your choosing! If you love nature and have a green thumb, look into World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). If you’re interested in helping out families, homes, farms, and hotels, research the work opportunities on sites like WorkAway and HelpX. If you’re looking for a job opportunity that’s less physically draining, consider teaching your native language in a foreign country! With the right certification, for instance, English speakers can teach students in countries like South Korea, earning good money while discovering new cultures.
Staying long-term in a foreign destination has the power to radically transform your life. If you’re healthy, courageous, and feeling up for an adventure, consider staying in offbeat accommodations or working while visiting a foreign country!
Eating out at restaurants can quickly add up while traveling! Consider what you’ll eat and where before starting out on your journey. If your accommodations include free continental breakfasts, take advantage of them. Pack a few simple and healthy snacks, like apples and granola bars, in case hunger strikes while you’re on the go, and bring and refill your own water bottle. To enjoy the best in local cuisine, eat at local markets! If you’re interested in getting a taste of a particular region, street food can also be a great way to eat “like a local,” often for just a few bucks. If you’re a fan of bread and pastries, visit local bakeries at the end of the day to see if you can get a few items for reduced prices.
Instead of eating every meal at a restaurant, consider picking up a few items at local grocery stores. If you have a kitchen or kitchenette in your room, consider eating in for a meal or two. To save big money on alcoholic beverages, consider buying a bottle of a local wine or liquor and enjoying a bit before heading out for the evening. The cost of an entire bottle will likely be cheaper than two or three glasses enjoyed at a restaurant or bar!
When eating out, seek out local fare at restaurants that are outside of the main tourist hotspots in town. Read up on tipping customs, too! Tipping rates often vary from country to country. Make sure that you are leaving proper tips while avoiding overpaying serving staff that are already receiving good wages.
Avoid Scams and Unnecessary Fees
During the trip-planning process, as well as when you’re on vacation, it’s important to remain aware of the many ways that you might unintentionally lose money. Read up on local scams and con-artist tricks before traveling, and keep your money in a secure pouch, ideally close to your body. Check your credit cards and cell phone, too. Turn off data roaming on your phone and check to ensure that you won’t be charged extra for using your card. If you’ll need to exchange currency or withdraw money during your trip, do your research in advance to find out the most affordable and reliable means of accessing additional funds. Some foreign ATMs and money exchange bureaus, for instance, are notorious for their misleading practices and currency conversion fees.
While booking transit tickets and rooms, be careful, too! Sometimes, extremely affordable deals really are too good to be true. Be sure to read the fine print, and look into any additional fees that may be charged on top of the base prices you’ve seen. By avoiding unwanted charges and scammy businesses, you can ultimately save yourself money and stress during your travels.
Use Convenient & Affordable Modes of Transportation
How you get from place to place is crucially important while traveling. The modes of transportation you choose, and the types of transit options you settle on, have the potential to make or break your travel budget. While in your destination, do your best to avoid taxis and hop-on buses, which are often the most expensive modes of local transportation. Instead, opt for walking and biking whenever possible. When using public transportation, consider all options and purchase tickets that are most affordable based upon your frequency of travel.
While booking transportation to your destination, try booking things far in advance, or, alternatively, at the last minute, to score the best prices. Plan your vacation for during the off-season, and select destinations where the exchange rate is favorable. When staying within your home country, also consider alternative forms of transportation, such as carpooling with others via companies like BlaBlaCar, or driving somewhere for a “one-gas-tank-getaway” within your local area. When traveling further distances, research your options. Within Europe, for instance, bus travel with companies like Flixbus and Megabus are often far more affordable than traveling by train. If you’re not in a rush, longer rides may be more affordable. Consider traveling overnight and resting on the bus to save yourself money on accommodations, too!
If you’re not pressed for time, consider planning a more leisurely travel itinerary. By lingering in a destination instead of jetting from one place to the next, you can relax and savor your vacation experience while saving money and reducing the fatigue caused by being constantly on the go.
Take Advantage of All Things Free & Discounted
Perhaps the easiest way to save money while traveling is by simply sticking to a budget and seeking out free and affordable things to do. Set a firm daily budget and keep your receipts, tallying up your daily expenditures each night. Negotiate and haggle to score good deals. Don’t be afraid to ask for upgrades at hotels. Look into discounts for seniors, and ask for them wherever you go. Consider negotiating for better prices at outdoor markets. By being friendly and charming, you can often score discounts and deals!
Instead of purchasing expensive tickets, look for free things to do in your travel destination. Walk through parks. Attend free concerts and events, and opt to visit museums on free days or during times when admission is cheaper. Go window-shopping and take part in free (tip-based) walking tours in urban destinations. Look into odd, budget-friendly things to see and do by researching peculiar places and sights on the Atlas Obscura website. By taking advantage of free and affordable things to do, you can drastically reduce the amount you’re spending on travel.
There are other ways you can save money on vacation, too. Instead of always using data on your phone, use Wi-Fi in cafés and in your hotel room. Purchase one or two meaningful souvenirs rather than filling your suitcase with snowglobes and magnets. By being smart about your purchases, you can save your money for the experiences that matter most to you.
Budgeting your travels is a great way to reduce the financial stresses that vacationing often brings. Though saving money may allow you to travel for longer periods of time or more frequently throughout the year, it is important to remember that vacations should be fun, too! Don’t scrimp and save to the extent that it makes your vacationing unpleasant. If you’re a lover of fine cuisine, consider saving money on transportation and accommodations to free up extra money for spending on fine dinners and scrumptious snacks. If, on the other hand, you can’t stand a dingy motel room, consider staying in a well-furnished apartment, ideally with a kitchenette, allowing you to reduce your dining costs while offering you a spacious and comfortable place to relax.
With the right amount of foresight and planning, anyone can reduce the costs of traveling, both at home and abroad. Set a reasonable budget and make your next vacation your most affordable and enjoyable one yet!
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