Traveling can be tough on the wallet. When you factor in your time away from work, plus the cost of food, lodging and transportation, a budget can be an overwhelming concept. Thankfully, we have the expertise you need to actually hit the road. Are you ready for an adventure?
Prepare Wisely for Your Trip
In anticipation of paying for your food, accommodation and transportation while traveling, you’d be wise to start saving money in advance of your trip. Here are some things you can do to ensure you won’t run out of funds on the trip of a lifetime:
- Don’t eat out for a month or two before leaving. Imagine all of the new foods you’ll try while traveling! Save up for those experiences by preparing cheaper meals at home.
- Start a piggy bank – or a savings account – specifically for traveling. And don’t touch it until your trip!
- Compare prices on rental properties in your destination through Tripping.com! It’s an easy way to save money and find a property off the beaten path with all of the amenities you need.
- If you have a birthday coming up, ask for cash instead of physical gifts. Crowdfunding sites are a great way to gain fundraising momentum, but they also take a cut out of your total. Instead, share a video on social media explaining why you want to travel and give your friends and family a reason to give to your cause.
- If you’re headed abroad, alert your phone and credit card carriers in advance to avoid foreign transaction fees. You can also download a texting app like WhatsApp or Pinger and simply use a wireless connection to contact friends and family back home, rather than paying for cell service.
- Pack airport-friendly snacks (no liquids!) and any painkillers, antacids or gum for the plane. It may seem like an obvious solution given the high prices of airline food, but travelers tend to get caught up in the last-minute rush of packing and trip planning to take this money saving step.
Find Alternative Travel Methods
- Book a flight in the middle of the week (Tuesday or Wednesday), when airfare is cheapest. Sign up for price alerts from sites like CheapAir, Secret Flying and The Flight Deal about six months ahead of your journey to see if prices are dropping or falling.
- But don’t get backed into a long stay in one city if you’re not sure you’ll love it. Many experienced travelers prefer the risk of last-minute bookings to getting stuck in one location for a week because travel costs were cheap.
- Travel in the “off season,” usually when schools are on break in the U.S., or during major holiday periods abroad. Keep an eye out on social media and email campaigns for deals from airlines that travel to your destination.
- Mix and match carriers both ways to see if you can get a cheaper flight instead of flying through one carrier alone (CheapAir does this automatically!).
- Try adding a rental car onto the price of your flight, if you book through the airline directly. This works especially well on holidays for international flights. Oddly enough, your total might only increase by a few dollars… and in some situations, the total is reduced.
- Use public transit as often as possible in your destination. It’s the best way to see a new place, and even if you arrived by car, the cost of parking and the burden of traffic can be more of a pain than hopping on a bus or subway. Use the transit tool on Google Maps, or try Rome2Rio (http://www.rome2rio.com/) for worldwide transit tips.
- Overnight trains can kill two birds with one stone: You won’t have to pay for lodging for a night, and you can save on train fare. Take safety precautions when traveling alone.
Explore on a Budget
- Abide by the “six block rule” – avoid restaurants within six blocks of major tourist attractions where prices can be higher in anticipation of out-of-towners. Branch out into the neighborhoods of the town for other (cheaper and tastier) options.
- Find a free walking tour on your first or second day in town to get a lay of the land. You’ll get to move your legs while taking in the sights with a knowledgeable guide. Be sure to ask your guide for museum, shopping and dining recommendations. Often, walking tours can be free or very low-cost.
- Eating in at least once per day during your vacation can save lots of money in the long run. Many rentals are already stocked with coffee and tea; grab a few breakfast essentials at a local market or grocery store and enjoy your first meal of the day in the comfort of your home away from home.
- If you’re looking to barter on goods, don’t wear name-brand clothing. Sellers will think you have the money to buy full price and ignore any other offers.
- If you have the skill set to do so, freelance while you travel. Take photos or pick up copywriting stints. Some travelers have even offered to proofread English translations of restaurant menus in exchange for a meal.
- Don’t make impulsive purchases, and verify your total with a salesperson before handing over your credit card. (And keep your card, cash and passport in a money belt at all times!)
Budget Travel Resources
Save Money on Rentals
Popular Snowbird Destinations with the Cheapest Rentals
The 12 European Cities with the Cheapest Rentals
Save Money Traveling
Cheapest cities in Europe to fly to from NYC
Cheapest cities in Europe to fly to from Chicago
This article was written by Caitlin Klask.