It’s a common misconception that it costs a lot to travel. The truth is, you don’t have to break the bank to go somewhere fun. You can vacation with a small budget; you just have to make intelligent decisions with your money. From comparing flight prices to being flexible with your destination, here are a few ways to cut down on costs:
1. Create a Budget
Before you start saving for your vacation, determine how much money you should set aside. To do that, research some of your expected costs. For instance, you’ll want to know what you plan to spend on airfare, hotel, and car rental. Estimating how much it will cost for each part of your trip is the first step to setting a realistic budget.
Begin by breaking your budget into categories. This way, you’ll have a cap for how much you can spend on airfare, food, your daily hotel stay, dining, and more. This might sound rigorous and time-consuming, but having a detailed budget makes it easier to save money and keep you from overspending.
2. Save Money
While this should go without saying, it’s a good idea to save money before traveling. Unfortunately, some people don’t do that. They travel without saving because they believe they can easily afford the expenses during their trip. Even if that’s true, saving money beforehand helps you stay in control of your spending while on vacation and keeps you from potentially overspending.
Saving money isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be burdensome either. You can implement small changes to make saving money a bit easier. First, create a dedicated vacation savings account. If you’re opening a new account, choose a high-yield savings account so your money can make money.
Another banking option? Choose an online bank that rounds up every transaction to the nearest dollar. The difference is then deposited automatically into your savings account. You could also set up your direct deposit so a portion automatically transfers to your savings. The more prepared you are to start saving, the easier it’ll be.
3. Choose the Right Location
People often make the mistake of choosing their destination first and then looking for inexpensive flights and hotels. The problem is, the location you choose dictates how much everything else will cost. Even with a great deal, a five-star hotel in New York City will always be more expensive than a five-star hotel in Kansas City.
Instead of making your budget work for your destination, choose your destination based on your budget. Figure out how much you can allot for your trip, and then research what destinations you can afford to travel to.
4. Travel During the Off-Season
Be mindful when choosing your travel dates. You might not realize it, but travel costs vary depending on the time of year and location. For example, flights will most likely be more expensive on the weekend than during the week. There’s also a good chance your hotel room will cost more during peak tourism season, which varies depending on the location.
Once you know where you want to travel, determine that destination’s off-season and do your best to travel during that time. Who knows? By selecting an off-peak season to travel, you might have an experience few others do.
5. Find a Good Flight
Do you have to fly to your destination? Finding affordable airfare is one of the most stressful parts of planning a trip because prices constantly fluctuate. Furthermore, airfare can cost more depending on where you look and when. If you want to save money, avoid buying directly from an airline’s website if possible. Airlines typically charge more than third-party websites like Google Flights, Kayak, or Expedia, so be sure to compare deals.
It’s important to note that flights in the U.S. typically cost less when purchased on a Tuesday. That’s because some airlines release sales on Tuesdays, which causes other airlines to match those sales and lower their prices. That said, your ticket price is also determined by the days you choose to travel. Weekend flights are more expensive than flights during the week.
6. Find Cheap Lodging
Besides airfare, accommodations can be one of the most costly parts of a trip. Thankfully, there are several lodging options from which to choose. For instance, you can stay at a hotel, a hostel, or an apartment, or you can rent a room in someone’s home.
When shopping for accommodations, make sure to do your research. Similar to the process when seeking inexpensive airfare, you’ll likely want to avoid buying directly from a hotel’s website. Instead, use Expedia, Hotels.com, or another third-party site to find more affordable hotel deals.
If you’re opting for a hotel alternative, consider that different platforms offer cheaper rates. You might find a home for $150 a night on Airbnb and another for $100 a night on VRBO, or vice versa. What’s nice about these platforms is you can read reviews from people who stayed at the property before spending your hard-earned (and saved) money.
If travel is one of your priorities, don’t let your current financial situation stop you from traveling. The above tips are a great way to save money, cut your vacation costs, and enjoy seeing the sights.