How to Travel on a Budget
Many people think that you need to spend months saving up thousands of dollars to take your next big trip. However, traveling doesn’t always need to be expensive—it’s possible to go on vacation and save money at the same time. With a few smart choices and a willingness to stick to your plan, it’s possible to travel on a budget that is within your financial means.
Here are a few ways that you can save money on your upcoming trip:
Avoid Unnecessary Expenditures
No surprise here! The most important thing to keep in mind when traveling on a budget is to actually stick to the plan you set out in the first place. Spending extra money on unplanned and unnecessary expenditures is the quickest way to rack up a large bill. One way to combat this is to think long and hard about every purchase and whether or not it’s worth it. Of course you can still spend money on souvenirs, excursions and tours if you would like to, but you should really give it some extra thought before spending your money aimlessly.
Another way to avoid unexpected costs is by doing your due diligence when monitoring your finances and booking your stay. One of the biggest charges tourists may incur are foreign transaction fees. Make sure to check the policy with your financial institution before leaving the country or switch to an account with no foreign transaction fees. You should also thoroughly read any agreements for lodging and car rentals before signing, so that you won't see unexpected charges on your bill.
Travel Out of Season
Booking your vacation during off-peak seasons can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on almost every aspect of your trip. Peak vs. off-peak travel can have serious price differences on airfare and lodging, but could even affect smaller expenditures like food and tour guides as well. Another added bonus of booking off-peak travel is that there can be fewer tourists in your desired location, helping you avoid longer lines and crowded spaces.
Since your largest expense will most likely be airfare, the best opportunity to save a lot of money is by traveling during less busy seasons. The first step is to understand which months are the busiest for your preferred location. Once you’ve determined that, you can save even more by booking your flight for off-peaks days, like midweek departures. And you’ll want to make sure that you’re booking your flight well in advance, typically six to twelve weeks out. Lastly, shop for your airline tickets in incognito mode as well, so that airlines don’t track your shopping habits and raise fees.
Reducing the amount of luggage you bring on a trip is one of the easiest ways to save money. The first step is to familiarize yourself with the airline and their luggage policies. Most airlines will allow you to bring a carry-on bag for free, as long as you don’t go over the weight limit. If this is the case, you should try to pack everything you need, without being excessive, into this one bag.
If you do need to use a piece of checked luggage, the most important thing to avoid is the weight limit, which is usually 40 or 50 pounds. Even going over by just one pound could make your luggage fees double. The very last thing you want to do is bring more than one piece of checked luggage—this could cause your fees to skyrocket. Because of this, try to always remember to weigh your bags before you leave home, and also leave extra room for purchases you might make at your destination.
Use Public Transportation
Hailing a taxi or ordering a rideshare anytime you need to get around will add up quickly, especially since they are one of the most expensive transportation options. A much cheaper alternative is public transportation, whether it’s a bus, subway or ferry. Even better yet, just walk or rent a bike!
In many of the best cities for public transportation, there are usually options to buy a weekend or week-long pass that can cover all of your transportation needs during the duration of your stay. Because these passes are a one-time purchase, you can easily factor them into your budget, as opposed to the unknown, and higher, costs of a taxi or Uber. All you need to do is a bit of research before your vacation to make a plan on how to get around.
Traveling on a budget can be made easy with the proper planning and some small sacrifices. All you need to do is understand the various ways that you can cut costs—and adjust your travel plans accordingly.
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