People are spending money left and right as product prices continue to rise. With everything being so expensive these days, traveling can break the bank.
A lot of families that want to take a trip have to start saving for it months in advance to be able to cover the cost for transportation, hotels, food, and related travel expenses.
But everyone needs a vacation every once and a while to break away from daily stress and monotony. You just have to make sure that you do not sacrifice too much in your quest for adventure.
When money is tight it is very important for people to figure out the best way to travel without over paying. Everyone, from families to couples to single college kids, can benefit from more frugal traveling tactics.
So try some of these tips for thrifty traveling and you can enjoy a guiltless, relaxing vacation!
- Research, research, research! One of the most daunting, but necessary, parts of cheap thrifty traveling is researching until you can research no more! Although it is a lot of work, there is definitely a huge pay off. Most of the good deals on transportation, hotels, and events are buried in obscure websites just waiting to be found by the dedicated researcher! For any vacation that you are serious about doing as cheaply as possible, you will need to start your research pretty early in order to stay updated on deals. Just remember, it will all be worth it when you are finally on that perfectly priced vacation that you worked so hard to find! It is also a good idea to make sure to travel light and only pack the things you need (Read: 12 Mistakes to Avoid When Packing for a Trip).
- Use connections. Many families have invested in time-share condos or homes—therefore, find out who you know that has done that. Maybe they will be willing to lend you their time-share for a week or so (it is definitely worth it to ask!). Another thing you could try is a bartering approach. Let’s say that you have a gift for fixing cars or you teach scuba lessons in your spare time; find someone that is in need of your skills and trade them your skills for a place to vacation! There are many ways to use connections, you just have to be willing to pick up the phone and make a couple of calls— and soon you will be off to your dream destination!
- Choose transportation wisely. Don’t just assume you have to rent a car when you fly somewhere. Check the local means of transportation. For example, if the city you are going to has a fabulous subway/train system, don’t be afraid to use it! Another little trick for cities is to find a “hop on, hop off” tour bus. It is a one-time cost that you pay upfront and you can use the bus like a taxi—and you get a tour of the city! This would frequently be cheaper than using taxis or renting a car. Another option, especially in big cities, is to walk! It is healthy and completely free! Be open to different types of transportation once you arrive at your destination—who knows, maybe it could lead to an unexpected adventure!
- Choose a destination that won’t kill your budget. Your destination can dictate how much money you will have to spend. For example, bigger cities will have better options for transportation and will have a variety of things to do. A more exotic location might be cheaper to travel to, but might require more spending once you get there. Try to avoid locations that brag about their cheap accommodations because they might be tricking you into a very touristy location. It might be a good deal getting there, but you could end up breaking the bank with your purchases on location. Try to choose places that have free activities like going to the beach, or going to a city where there are a lot of free museums. Your choice of destination can make or break your budget.
- Budget money for food. One of the biggest expenses on vacation can be food. Be sure to set a budget before you even leave and be sure to stick to it. A really good idea is to go grocery shopping as soon as you get to your destination. Since you are on vacation, it is okay to splurge on some meals, but using groceries for meals like breakfast and lunch can save a lot of money in the long run! (And maybe you could use all that extra money for a really nice dinner one night!)
- Check for Groupons. Groupons are a good trick for everyday life because there are some really good deals. However, if you are diligent, you can find some crazy deals for traveling too! A lot of times there will be offers on airplane tickets and hotels. If you are open to any destination, this is a particularly good option because you might be at the whim of Groupon as far as your location is concerned! You can also get really good deals on restaurants and even activities in the area. It is definitely worth checking it out!
- Be flexible. This is one of the hardest things to do, especially if you have a dream destination and very limited days off. However, being flexible will allow you to search for the best deals and will prevent you from spending too much money. If you are flexible in your destination, you could just buy the cheapest plane ticket for your available dates. If you are flexible about your dates, you can find the best deals for hotels at various locations. Being flexible will also make the researching stage less stressful. If you stay flexible, you will be sure to find, and fund, your perfect vacation! (Read: Take a Break – Top 10 Family Vacation Destinations in the U.S.)
- Travel during “off seasons”. This is really the best way to travel. There are off seasons for every location, you just have to find out what they are! For example, going to big theme parks like Disney or Universal Studios is way cheaper to do in the fall or early spring—you will want to avoid Christmas and the summer time completely. Most places like that will create incredible deals that you would never be able to find during busy seasons. Be willing to take a vacation at a different time so that you aren’t unnecessarily sacrificing money! There are also very specific off seasons for cruises and resorts. For example, you would want to avoid spring break! Search around for the off season of your favorite destination and wait for the deals to just fall in your lap!