Travel broadens your horizons; creates memories for a lifetime; introduces you to new cultures, history, and religions; and is downright fun. Many of us have a bucket list of places we would like to visit, but not all of us have the budget to make our travel dreams come true. If you have inherited a fortune, sold a successful start-up, or won the lottery by playing the US Powerball, expense is not an issue, but for the rest of us, we need to consider our budget when we make our travel plans.
The following tips will get you on your way without breaking the bank.
Travel off season. While many of us prefer to take our holidays during the summer months, and certainly this is the only time of year when travel is possible for families with school children, summertime prices are higher than those during other seasons. Whenever you choose to travel, be on the lookout for deals, especially those offered at the very last minute.
Avoid expensive accommodations. While staying in a luxury suite would be the ultimate vacation, it certainly isn’t practical if you’re watching your budget. Instead of making reservations at hotels, consider staying instead at hostels or booking with Airbnb or Couchsurfing. Rental vacation homes are sometimes available. If you have friends, possibly you could stay with them. In any case, try to negotiate the best price possible for your accommodations.
Stay away from touristy restaurants. The most expensive restaurants tend to be located near the major tourist sites. If you eat where the locals eat, you will end up eating cheaper.
Cook for yourself. Avoid hotel breakfasts not included in your room rate as they can be very expensive. Instead of dining in restaurants, go to the nearest grocery store or local market to purchase items for a picnic lunch in a park. Fresh produce and fresh air will do wonders for you.
Enjoy free stuff. Hiring a personal tour guide will give you maximum information about your destination as well as ensure that you will never get lost, but this is a luxury that most of us can’t afford. Surprisingly many cities offer free walking tours and many museums have free entry one day of the week.
Use public transport. Renting a car may provide you with comfortable travel, but it can be an expensive way to get around. Don’t forget that paying for parking is part of the expense and that it’s not always easy to navigate through city centres. Avoid taking taxis. Use public transportation when you can and compare bus and train ticket prices. If you travel on night trains, you will also save on accommodation expenses.
Bring water. Drinking water is essential on your daily trips, but the expense of paying for bottled, mineral water adds up. Carry a water bottle with you and refill it every time you come across a potable water source.
Plan your day in advance. As you plan your activities, also plan your budget. Allocate a certain budget for meals and snacks and avoid the main tourist traps. Check in advance to see when sites are open so that you don’t waste your time as well as your money.
Take out travel and medical insurance. It is better be safe than sorry as local medical care can be quite expensive. When you order insurance policies check the fine print to make sure they cover lost luggage as well.
Share expenses. Many of us love to travel on our own, but when you travel with friends and family members you can cut your expenses drastically. Reserve hotel rooms and rental cars together. Even taking a taxi together will lower the expense.
Do your research. It’s great to go with the flow but you may end up paying for spontaneity. Before you travel, it’s worthwhile to check the web, read guidebooks, compare travel and accommodation options, read travel sites’ forums, and ask questions. Word of mouth from previous travellers will help guide your journey.
Pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and have a safe trip!