Smart Travel on a Budget

Make a Budget Before You Travel

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway close to home or traveling around the world, a vacation doesn’t have to put you in debt. With a few travel tips, anyone can enjoy a trip away from home without breaking the bank. Careful planning, knowing when to buy and how to find the best travel deals, hotel or hostel prices, and getting the best price on activities can help travelers save hundreds to thousands on their journey. It doesn’t matter if you are traveling solo or with friends and family; spending money wisely is not only prudent but helps ensure that you enjoy your vacation better. Traveling should be a fun, enjoyable time. By staying within a budget, you can prevent unnecessary financial strain when you return home.

Planning and Research

Planning and research are key to staying within your budget when vacationing. Once you have an idea where you would like to go, it’s time to get to work. Begin by researching your destination; determine how many people will travel with you and have an idea where you would like to stay, your preferred mode of travel, and a general idea of your budget. Be flexible, as these may change. Once you have a general idea, subscribe to various travel-related websites, social media networking groups, and email lists. Subscribe to airlines, hotels/hostels, activity destinations and other point-of-interest websites, and the welcome center for the destinations you want to visit. By subscribing, you’ll receive a heads up when there are discounts, sales, or special travel packages available. You’ll find that a great portion of your research is easily accomplished simply by subscribing to various travel-related industry sites and allowing them to contact you with their best deals and sales. Once you’ve determined a budget range, begin saving for your trip.

Follow the Savings

Staying up-to-date on the latest sales can help ensure that you stay within your budget, but you want to make sure you aren’t scammed. Many frauds target vacationers with ads that sound too good to be true. Look out for offers that appear in hotels, such as saving on pizza menus. One popular fraud is for scam artists to slip flyers under a hotel door with a number to order pizza or other food. When the patron calls the number and orders, they unwittingly hand over their credit or debit card number to a fraudulent company. If you want to order in, get a recommendation from the hotel rather than calling the number on those flyers. Using coupons and other savings offers is an invaluable way to save when traveling, but make sure the deal is legitimate. When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau and look for reviews regarding a service.

Know When to Buy

Be flexible with times and dates regarding your trip and you may find additional savings. You can save a great deal on your vacation by purchasing off-season as well. Have an ideal time when you would like to plan your trip and begin checking airline fares. Adjust the dates of your trip to see how much you can save. Being flexible can help ensure that you get the best deals.

Allow More Money Than You Need

When setting a budget, overestimate how much you will need. It’s always better to come home with more money in your pocket than to dip into savings due to overspending on your trip. Those using credit cards overseas need to check whether the company charges international fees. There are things you can do that will help cut the cost of your trip. For example, you can save by preparing your own food rather than dining out. Consider using various budget calculators and apps to ensure that you have dedicated enough money for your trip, and then allow yourself a bit more to ensure that you’re financially covered.

Choose Your Mode of Travel

Travel expenses are a primary cost during any vacation. Not only should you factor in the cost of arriving at your destination and returning home, but you’ll need to determine the cost of transportation during your vacation. This is an area that should not be neglected; plenty of attention should be carefully given. Sometimes a mode of travel may seem cheaper, but will it be safer? When traveling in a foreign country or unknown destination, put safety first. This is one area where it pays to put more money into transportation than to find yourself in a dangerous situation because you’ve tried to navigate unfamiliar roads or a local train and bus system. Do your research, read reviews from other travelers, or ask friends and family members who visited the area how they traveled. Sometimes taking trains instead of renting a car makes sense; other times, it could pose a safety hazard and cost you time that could have been spent enjoying points of interest during your trip.

Look for Hotel/Hostel Deals

Everyone wants a deal on a hotel, hostel, or other lodging, but this is one area where scams thrive. Whenever you come across a deal, always check with business reviews and rip-off-report sites to ensure that you are getting a legitimate offer. When choosing hotels, hostels, or other lodging, make sure that you select one in a prime location. While some might think it is budget-friendly to choose a place with lower rates but further away from your points of interest, the added travel time and expense often counteracts any savings. This is one area where diligent research does pay off, but don’t sacrifice your time and comfort in order to save a few bucks. Remember that time is limited during a vacation and you want to maximize the time you have.

Try Not to Overpay

Avoid overpaying when possible. This includes your transportation costs, gas, car rentals, going out to eat, overspending on trinkets, souvenirs, and more. Researching your vacation, finding inexpensive and affordable restaurants, and determining the best mode of transportation can help prevent overspending during the duration of the vacation. By setting daily spending limits, you can prevent overspending and ensure that you stay within your travel budget.