Contrary to popular belief, millionaires aren’t the only people that can enjoy traveling the world. If you’ve been putting off your wanderlust for fear of breaking the bank, look no further. Even families with tight budgets can make their vacation dreams come true with a little bit of planning and these helpful vacation tips for traveling on the cheap!
1. SAVING MONEY
The first step (before you even decide on a destination,) is to get your finances in order. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it may seem next to impossible to take a vacation. But, if you follow the steps listed below, you’ll soon be well on your way to a relaxing getaway.
A.) Budget: Take an hour or so out of your week and plan a budget. Review all of your income and your actual expenses, and then see where you can cut back. Do you really need to grab a donut before work every day? Can you cut the $100 cable bill or that restaurant meal twice a week? Once you’ve figured out all of your finances and what you’re willing to sacrifice for your trip, set some budgeting goals and stick to them.
B.) Side Hustle: If you have very limited wiggle room with your money once you’ve set up your budget, consider making extra dough on the side that can be earmarked for travel. Do you have a couple hundred dollars that you can throw into the stock market? Do you have anything around your house that you can sell or a skill that you can turn into dollars? The opportunities are limitless, and every dollar you earn will get you closer to soaking up some sun in paradise!
C.) Savings Challenge: If you need an extra boost, try joining a savings challenge so you have the support of other people going through the same struggles. Or you can always try the “out of sight, out of mind” trick and set up a bank account just for travel. Then, have a predetermined amount automatically deposited from your paycheck weekly or monthly so the money doesn’t even have a chance to cross your wallet.
2. TRAVEL SAVINGS
Once you’re ready to book your trip, there are a myriad of ways to be frugal with your plans in order to make travel affordable.
A.) Travel Points: One of the greatest ways to save money on vacations is through rewards systems. Many credit cards offer airline miles or even discounts on hotels and rental cars just for signing up! Quite a few hotel chains also have their own reward program where you can earn free nights just for being a loyal guest.
B.) Be Flexible: If you know where you’d like to go, try to be flexible with the dates. Flights are historically lower on Tuesdays than any other day, so taking a vacation in the middle of the week will garner the most savings. Almost every destination has slower “seasons” when accommodations and excursions will be less expensive (and less crowded.)
C.) There’s an app for that!: There is a plethora of vacation websites, blogs and apps available for the frugal traveler. Some of our faves are: “Secret Flying” and “Skiplagged” for the cheapest airfare; “Kayak” for the cheapest hotels, cars and airfare and “Meal Ticket” to save money on restaurants once you arrive.
D.) Budget/package vacations: You can get some pretty deep discounts by traveling in a group with others, or bundling all of your travel expenses into one package. Talk to your local travel agent to see if there are any group tours available, or check out Groupon or Living Social for some great deals that often include airfare and amazing itineraries!
E.) Cut back on the luxury aspects of traveling: Consider renting a place with a kitchen so that you can splurge and eat out a few times, but save money by preparing your own food the rest of the trip. Instead of renting a car, use public transportation or even walk to see the sights. Try to eat where the locals eat and stay away from tourist traps. Plan out whatever you can ahead of time so you aren’t stuck shelling out money for something unexpected at the last second.
F.) Get creative: A great vacation can still be had without the five star hotel and the nightly expensive dinners. Get creative with how you travel and where you stay. Place an ad for house sitting in your destination city to score free housing, or try renting a residence from Airbnb for much less than the cost of a hotel. Check out Blablacar to share rides if you need to get around, or try bartering your services for meals at restaurants or for room and board.