As spring gives way to summer, the urge to exchange the mundane for the exciting begins to creep in. But as you begin to enquire about holiday packages or book your flight tickets, you realize that your dream adventure could be an expensive affair. This will be especially true if you’re considering traveling with your family.
But that long-awaited trip doesn’t have to cost as much as you fear it will. You don’t need to look hard to find handy travel tips that will help you save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Here are some time-tested hacks for the thrifty traveler:
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead can save you precious dollars in a number of ways. Make sure to use a route optimization software so you can also save yourself from time and stress if ever you get lost while traveling. If you know you will be traveling for a ski holiday at the end of the year, you can start putting cash away as early as January via a piggy bank that you add to each paycheck.
In this way, you will only have to top up a little cash when the travel date arrives. If you’re diligent enough in saving, you might not even have to go back into your pocket at all.
Having the cash at hand early will enable you to make bookings early when demand is low and enjoy discounted prices. Join discount flight clubs as soon as you can so that you can get alerts on cheap tickets to your destination when they become available.
Making your accommodation well in advance when demand is low can also save you some cash. The sooner you buy your tickets and accommodation, the cheaper the price. If you wait last minute to book everything, expect higher prices and less availability.
2. “Off” Season Traveling
Every holiday destination has a peak and off-peak season, usually based on the prevailing weather. Ski resorts will be fully booked towards the end of the year, while beachfront hotels in Miami will be packed with sun-seeking revelers in June and July.
If you plan your travel for when fewer people will be inclined to visit a destination, you stand to save a couple of bucks. Everything from the air ticket price to the accommodation cost will be lower than normal because of low demand. You may not be able to do all the activities in the travel brochure, but this could be an opportunity to discover some of the destination’s hidden attractions.
3. Separate Bank Account
Cutting on travel costs should start with preparing a budget for your dream vacation and saving up for it. If you have started with this noble goal in mind but found yourself spending the money you put in the piggy bank, you should consider opening a separate account.
Better still, make it a savings account with restrictions on withdrawals to ensure your cash stays locked away until you’re ready to travel. Your cash could even earn some modest interest depending on how long you leave it untouched.
If what you have in your savings account doesn’t cover your travel expenses, you can secure some extra cash from lenders. And you don’t have to worry about your credit history, as some lenders offer vacation loans for bad credit.
4. Cook Your Own Meals
One of the biggest drains on your travel budget is food, but thankfully, there are many ways you can reduce your expenditure on this essential need. Cooking your own meals at a holiday destination may not hold great appeal for many travelers, and understandably so. The whole point of getting away is to relax, not to wrestle with pots and pans after a grueling day of sightseeing.
But on the flip side, cooking your meals can help you save massively. And this doesn’t mean you never get a chance to sample the local cuisine. You can splurge at exotic restaurants on occasion. Or you can take up the challenge to prepare the local cuisine yourself, seizing the opportunity to explore local food markets for fresh ingredients.
5. Travel Partner
If you’re planning an epic road trip, having a travel partner will help you save on gas. Besides splitting the fuel costs, you can also share driving duties. Having a travel partner can see you save on accommodation if you share a room or a cottage. You can also “go Dutch” on your meals so that you spend less on the occasions you eat out.
A Worthy Tradeoff
Much as random travel can heighten the sense of adventure in your travel; there are many advantages to planning your trip well in advance. You stand to save substantially when you make early bookings and purchase tickets early. And if you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of luxury, you will have more cash to spend on stuff that will make your vacation memorable.