How To Travel on a Budget, 9 Tips from a Travel Professional
The term Budget Travel is a welcoming subject for many travelers. Are you finally taking some time off to go on that much-needed vacation? Have you decided where you’re going to go? If you’re anything like me, the toughest part is how to budget your trip. Most people don’t have a bucketload of money, so it’s wise to stick to a daily stipend so that you’re not crying when you receive next month’s credit card bill!
Here are some pointers to help you keep your expenses as low as possible when taking your next trip.
Shop wisely. Start to price your airline tickets and hotel accommodation as soon as you know where you’re going.
Pointer #1: Transportation
For airfare, always try to book your flights on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and preferably for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Airlines often hold their sales earlier in the week, so these are the best times to book your flight.
- Check their fares every day, if you can.
When you see the prices drop, spring on it! Sign up for e-mail alerts that will tell you when prices drop.
Use the power of different flight search websites such as Jetradar.com, which checks and compares fares from different worldwide booking engines. Also, check airlines’ own websites. Sometimes you find the cheapest deals there.
- Clear your cookies prior to every repeat search for fares!
Most airlines and booking engines use what is called dynamic pricing to quote you a price. Computer cookies are information which stores the details of your web visits. The IP address of your device used to shop is stored as a cookie.
When you delete the cookies it also deletes any trace of your previous flight search.
The system calculates an airfare specific to a computer prediction to what you are willing to pay. The calculations are based on a lot of different factors. Criteria include your history as a customer: frequent flier, business traveler, new traveler, and much more.
Bluntly spoken, when you repeatedly search for specific flights they use that information against you! Initially, they present you the best and cheapest fare. Then, when you come back to their site they know you're still interested. Then they raise the price.
- If time is not a concern for you, do some number crunching to find out if perhaps renting a car or taking a train is the less expensive option if you're not flying overseas.
Pointer #2: Accommodation
There are so many great deals out there on hotels. Another option is B&B’s and vacation homes. Ever heard of travel hacking? Sign up for the hotel chain credit card of your choice and take advantage of points. If you don’t mind communal-like living, try staying at a hostel. I myself am a big fan of Airbnb. It’s usually much cheaper than a hotel, with the added bonus of chatting with your host about what to do in their area!
If you don’t mind ‘roughing it’, camping is a great way to save money, be one with nature, and converse with fellow campers! Many campsites even have small cabins, so you don’t exactly have to rough it!
Pointer #3: Car Rental
Car rental can be expensive when traveling in a big city. Take public transportation whenever possible. Walking is free and a great way to exercise!
Looking into a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle rental can be a cheap alternative to renting a car if that appeals to you.
Pointer #4: Travel During the Low or Shoulder Season of your Destination
Wherever you are going, research where their high season falls. And then do NOT go at that time! Prices will be more expensive, and the crowds will be thicker. You will save money and not deal with so many other tourists during the shoulder and low seasons.
Pointer #5: Have a Rough Idea of What You Will Be Doing
Draw up a loose outline of all the places you want to visit. Research admission fees at the planning stages to get a rough idea of what you’ll be spending when visiting national parks, museums and the like. Many larger cities around the globe have city passes you can purchase. These will give you deeply discounted or free admission to many sightseeing spots, which will save you money.
Pointer #6: Food
Set a daily budget on food. Do you like street food? Excellent! Where available, street food is inexpensive and a delicious way to sample the local cuisine. If you don't mind preparing your own meals, stay somewhere that has a kitchenette. This will save money on having to go out to eat two or three times a day, which really adds up! If you do want that special, expensive meal, the budget for one or two of those. It's all about what your priorities are while on vacation.
Pointer #7: Save money on sightseeing
Walk as much as you can instead of taking a taxi or Uber. Make use of public transportation where available! Set a daily budget for souvenirs and stick to it! It’s easy to break your own rule and buy that spontaneous object that you feel you cannot live without. But trust me you can!
Pointer #8: Shopping: stay away from tourist areas
Do your shopping away from the areas where a lot of tourists shop. Prices are much higher there. Instead, ask the hotel personnel or your trusted local host for recommendations to safe non-touristy places which offer good selections and reasonable pricing.
Pointer #9: Common sense planning
- Whatever your daily budget works out to be, give yourself a buffer and tack on a few extra dollars for any unexpected emergencies. And most of all – be safe! Have fun, but always be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to be susceptible to pickpockets and scammers. Stay vigilant.
- Never carry all of your documents, credit cards, and cash when you leave your hotel! Place your important stuff in the hotel safe, carry only one form of ID, one credit card, and some cash when you go out.
- Put a copy of your passport in your suitcase and one in your carry-on luggage. In addition, make sure you scan a copy of your passport to your computer and send it as an attachment to your email box.
- Always bring two credit cards, in case one card is lost or stolen.
- Notify your credit company before the trip. Let them know where you'll be going and when you will be at that destination. Otherwise, you run a risk of not being approved for your credit card transactions. Credit card companies are continuously monitoring for suspicious activity to protect your card. Transactions outside of your home area trigger an alert, which could result in a transaction declined.
No matter if your budget is high or low, it’s important to set a daily stipend for yourself and stick to it. Little Things Throughout the Day can Add Up your Expenses!
It’s very easy to get excited and fork out extra dollars for that must-have expensive meal, or that leather jacket in Milan you simply MUST have.
Have fun on vacation but keep a cool head and do not overspend.