If your wanderlust is larger than your bank account, you’re in good company. Many of us would travel the world many times over if we could only afford to. But when you start sticking to a budget, saving money becomes something of an addiction. After all, every penny saved is a penny you can use towards your next vacation.
Here are some tips for traveling on a budget.
Whether you’re planning on taking a plane, train or automobile, it’s a good idea to travel light. If nothing else, you’ll save your sanity. But if you’re traveling by plane, extra baggage can cost you big time.
If you can get away with nothing more than a carryon, that makes the best financial sense. And on many flights, they’ll even offer to check your carryon plane-side for free, which is an excellent option if you don’t want to lug it around.
Save money on food and snacks
If you’re on a budget, never buy food at the airport or train station. The same goes for in-flight or onboard. When you’re part of a captive audience, you know you’re going to pay a premium for food and drinks. Always bring some travel-friendly food and snacks – even if you think you’re not going to be hungry. You never know when there will be delays and it’s best to be prepared.
Without beeing used to it you can’t exactly take your water on a flight, but you can get a portable water bottle with a built-in filter. You should be able to find a water fountain almost anywhere you go. It may sound like a small thing, but $2 waters can add up over the course of a vacation.
And while you’re on vacation, save money on food by attending events that include food as part of the experience. You may even get to attend an event like a gallery opening, convention or grand opening event for free.
Stay without paying
Lodging is one of the biggest travel expenses, so this is a great place to save money. If you’re willing to put in a little elbow grease, there are even places you can stay for free. Look for volunteer opportunities in an area where you want to vacation. You can work with children, animals, agriculture or constructing buildings. There are volunteer vacations to correspond with virtually any interest, and lodging costs may be free or discounted.
Consider traveling to your flight
When your budget is tight, you may want to swap convenience for dollars. Sometimes, the cheapest flights may be in the next city over. And if that city is within a reasonable drive, you can save some cash by traveling to your flight. For example, you may get a cheaper flight out of Newark than John F. Kennedy airport in New York.
And sometimes, you can save even more by flying out of one airport and flying back into a different one. Remain flexible and look for flights on a comparison site like Kayak or Expedia to view all your options.
Prepare your vehicle
Whether you’re driving to the airport or on a cross-country trek, you’ll want to ensure you get there. Making sure your car is okay to handle the trip is an important step. Make sure to get your vehicle serviced on time and take care of any repairs it may need. It’ll be a lot cheaper to perform the maintenance upfront than to handle repair costs later. Fixing a problem is always more expensive than preventing one.
Take alternate methods of transportation
Planes, trains and automobiles can all be expensive. But if you’re really looking to save money, consider taking alternate method of transportation. Walking, hiking and hitchhiking are all great ways to get around. But if you hitchhike, be sure to take safety precautions. If something feels off, don’t get into the car.
Get a room with a kitchen
Forget about the view. If you want to save money, get a room with a kitchen and a refrigerator. You can save a great deal of money by cooking your own meals every night instead of eating at restaurants. You may pay a bit extra for the room, but the saving should be substantial enough that it makes sense. In a pinch, you can get by for a short time with just a microwave, but a full kitchen is better for more extended stays.
Stay outside the city
If you’re going to be visiting a large city, consider staying in a nearby suburb. You’ll pay a premium for hotel rooms in popular locations, but if you travel twenty minutes outside of the city, you can save a lot of money. Investigate your options before you make a decision, but you may want to broaden your search to save the most money.
Consider renting an apartment
If you’re traveling with teenagers or other adults, you may be able to save money by renting an apartment instead of getting multiple rooms in a hotel. Start by checking out rentals on Airbnb to see what the prices are like.
Every destination has a popular season, even those that have mild temperatures year-round. Research the ideal times to visit your desired destination and consider going in an offseason. Just keep in mind that this isn’t always a good idea. For example, you’ll probably want to avoid monsoon season in Thailand (or even Arizona). Hurricane seasons are also a risk, but they are one that many people take. If you’re planning to travel during a potentially dangerous season, consider booking your trip at the last minute, so you can evaluate the weather before you book.
Traveling on a budget is always a good idea. It’s too easy to splurge and spend way more than you anticipated, but if you follow some simple rules, you can ensure the well won’t run dry before your trip ends.