More than half of this country’s population does not use their paid vacation time each year. While many state work-related concerns as the reason, nearly a third of folks don’t get away because they fear it is too expensive. With a few clever tricks and a little careful planning however, it’s easy to keep trip costs down. Here are 10 simple ways to save money on your next vacation.
Airline companies use major cities as transport hubs to get travelers to their destinations cheaply and efficiently. Good for you if you happen to live in one of these hubs. If not, it can be quite pricey to fly anywhere, since airlines know you have little choice. So do a quick Google search on the nearest hub to you or your destination, and check flights to/from there individually. You’ll often find it’s significantly cheaper to travel via a heavily trafficked airport (like LAX or Heathrow, for example) then to book a ticket directly to your destination.
Packaged tours are a convenient way to see all of the sights in a country without doing any of the legwork. But they are also incredibly expensive. The best way to use a tour company to your advantage is to study their website, and use that info to create your own itinerary. They’ve already done the work on highlighting a place’s must-sees for you. All you have to do is determine the best way to get around (public transportation, car rental, etc.) and you become your own tour guide at a fraction of the price.
This convenience store chain may be the budget traveler’s favorite “bar”. It can be found just about anywhere, and it stocks all the cheap booze you could ever need for your getaway. Want to have a sundowner on the beach? Swing by 7-11 (or its local equivalent) for cheap wine and some plastic cups on your way to the sand. Going on a romantic city stroll? You can’t tell whether or not it’s coffee inside those little paper cups. Just sayin’. If your night out doesn’t start at 7-11, that’s just money down the drain.
We all use Uber regularly at home, but how many of us associate this shared ride app with traveling? It’s second nature to step off the curb and hail a cab in a new city, but you should check that Uber app first. They now operate in 300 cities across six continents, so there is a good chance you can use it wherever you’re vacationing.
A Filled Fridge
Breakfast is probably the most overrated meal of the day. So why eat it out and pay big bucks for simple items that you can easily make at home? Find a room with a mini fridge, and stock it with some morning essentials. Bonus if it has a coffee pot too! These simple amenities will allow you to start each day without a dent in your budget.
When you are trying to save a buck, flexibility is your friend. Skyscanner.com has an excellent search tool for when your dates aren’t fixed. While searching fares to your next destination, select “whole month” in the date field to see a range of prices on any given day of the week. This simple tool can save you hundreds.
Lunch + Happy Hour
Who doesn’t love hitting up the hottest restaurants in whatever city they’re vacationing? Unfortunately, eating a swanky dinner out every single night adds up. Consider working in some of the places on your list for lunch or happy hour instead. Often the menus are identical in every way except the price. Food tastes better when the sun is out, and/or accompanied by a discounted beverage anyway.
Mention the word “hostel,” and most people immediately picture a crowded dorm room crawling with bed bugs. Perhaps in the past, hostels were nothing more than a cheap crash pad for young travelers. But nowadays, more and more “boutique hostels” are popping up that cater to budget travelers who appreciate a social vibe. These accommodation options offer private suites in addition to the traditional shared rooms, and often have more style than many nearby hotels. When hunting for the perfect place to lay your head, don’t rule out hostels as an option.
Nothing comes for free on budget airlines anymore. In some cases, not even water! Every savvy traveler knows to arm themselves with snacks for the airport and flight. But FAA regulations get in the way of bringing beverages. Luckily, there is no ban on carrying empty water bottles. Toss a few empty Hint bottles in your carry on and fill them up at a drinking fountain after the security checkpoint, so you don’t have to shell out big bucks for small sips. There is no cheaper way to stay hydrated.
Credit Card Points
If you don’t already have a credit card that earns you travel points or miles, you are just throwing money away. Why not earn bonuses on stuff you are going to buy anyway? If you have a favorite airline, look into their credit card program to start earning free flights right away. Many of them offer a bonus big enough to book a round trip ticket, just for signing up! And if you want a little more flexibility, cards like the Chase Preferred let you earn travel benefits on any airline. Start spending, and start saving.
Any other budget-friendly travel tips to share? Sound off in the comments.