Between airfare, accommodation, dining out and transportation costs, traveling can be extremely expensive, but if you know how to do it right, you can save a significant amount and still enjoy a great time.
If at all possible, plan your trip during the offseason. If you’re going to Europe for example, avoid the summer months and consider spring or fall which often bring better weather, fewer crowds, and discounts off airfare and accommodation. Tourism is based on supply and demand, by planning ahead and choosing to visit certain places a few weeks earlier or later than everyone else, you could save quite a bit.
Score Cheap Airfare
The typical American vacationing family spends nearly half of their travel funds getting to, from and around various destinations, spending an average of over $2,100 a year on holiday transportation costs, according to ValuePenguin.
If you have to fly to your destination, those flights will probably take the biggest chunk out of your travel budget, but if you can be flexible with your dates, it might be possible to score cheap airfare, especially if you’re traveling outside of the peak season. The day of the week can make a big difference too. Typically Friday, Sunday, and Monday are the busiest air travel days – if you can fly in or out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, your airfare will probably be cheaper. Avoid holidays and booking your flights at the last minute.
Book Accommodation That Includes a Kitchen
Owning your own vacation home means being able to cook your own meals which can save you a ton of money dining out. If you visit beautiful Banff frequently, it might be worth purchasing one of the Banff homes for sale which will save you the cost of accommodation and dining out in the long run. Of course, if that’s not possible, try to book accommodations that include a kitchen, such as an Airbnb apartment or home rental. While you’ll probably want to dine at the local eateries occasionally to sample the offerings in your destination, cooking even some of your own meals can help you save big.
You might even consider free accommodation options depending on your situation. Couchsurfing, for example, provides an opportunity to meet the locals, enjoying a cultural exchange while getting more of an insider’s look at your destination. Instead of paying a nightly rate, you might bring dinner or a bottle of wine to your host. Many offer more than a couch, with plenty of private rooms available in which about any given locale around the world.
For longer-term travel, another option is volunteering in exchange for your stay, through sites like WWOOF. Typically, you’ll work around four hours a day, five days a week in exchange for accommodation and meals. The work can range from picking grapes at a vineyard, to farm chores and reception at a hostel.
Find Hotels with Complimentary Breakfasts
If a vacation rental, Couchsurfing, or the other options aren’t doable, you can still save on dining out by booking hotels that offer complimentary breakfasts. Saving money on at least one meal a day can add up to a big chunk of change at the end of a trip. If the breakfast is generous enough, you might be able to get by with eating out for just one meal a day, perhaps filling in with snacks from the grocery store.
Sightseeing and Attractions
No matter where you are, you’re bound to find some free or low-cost activities and attractions. In fact, just wandering through a new town can be a fun way to spend an afternoon. In most cities around the world, free guided walking tours are available too, although you should tip your guide for a job well done. Enjoy parks, beaches, and other outdoor attractions that don’t cost a thing. You might find museums with free admission too. By doing some online research before you go, searching terms like “free things to do in XXX” you’re likely to turn up all sorts of options.