Travel can be expensive whether you are going abroad or sticking close to home. But there are simple ways to save money when you travel. Being a savvy consumer can put that dream vacation within reach without running up a huge credit card debt. And saving money on these basics means that you can travel more and do more.
Here are 8 tips for saving money when traveling:
1 Use caution when choosing a flight
The cost of a flight can vary depending on the day of the week a person is traveling, the time of day that they are traveling, and the time of the year. A person can save quite a bit of money if they choose to travel on off days like Thursdays and Mondays, instead of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Book flightsflights at least two to three months before your departure date. Off-season rates may be significantly cheaper than high season. Paris is still charming under a winter dusting of snow and the rates are a lot lower than late spring and summer.
Budget airlines, while only serving a limited number of cities, often offer ticket prices well below traditional carriers. You can also find deals if you look at smaller airports that may be a little outside of the city you’re traveling to.
2 Eat cheaply
People eat out a lot when they travel abroad, but if it is done wisely, people will spend a lot less than they think. Food at a café or food truck will be much cheaper than a fancy high-end restaurant. Picnics are also great options, because a person can visit a market and get all the food for the meal for much less than they would pay at a restaurant. Of course, everyone will want to eat at one highly rated restaurant during their trip, but a little advance planning could help with finding a more reasonably priced one.
3 Ask if a car is a necessity
Having a rental car is a great option, but only if a person is going to use it often enough during their vacation. If the car is only going to be used to travel to and from the airport, it is one expense that could be crossed off for the most savings. It would be much cheaper to use other modes of transportation or walk around the city. Remember, too, that parking can be scarce and expensive in big cities. Taxis, subways, Uber, and even car sharing are options that can save you both the expense and the headache of renting a car.
4 Keep up with the currency
It’s important to know what the currency exchange rate is if you are traveling abroad. At the very least, you want to have a ballpark idea of how much that shop owner is trying to charge you for a cute knickknack. Some hotels don’t lock in the exchange rate when you book, which means you can end up paying a different rate by the time you actually travel. Unfortunately, it never seems to be less, always more.
The currency exchange rates for countries can change at an alarming rate and people may find that the rate decreases dramatically a month or two before their trip. Everyone should take advantage of that drop before the rates begin to increase, because they are getting a lot more, well, money for their money.
5 Research accommodations
Hotels are a place to sleep and while no one should ever stay at a dingy or unsafe one, there are plenty of nice and affordable ones available. No one should ever rule out a hotel simply because they have never heard about it before either. In this day of social media and the internet, it is easy to go online and research the hotel to read the reviews of previous guests. The time that a person spends doing this could end up saving them hundreds of dollars when it comes to their accommodations for their trip. If you’re traveling as a family or a group, a vacation rental from a site like Homeaway.com or Airbnb might be a big money-saver over multiple hotel rooms.
6 Negotiate when possible
Many countries do not expect visitors to pay full price on anything and they are willing to negotiate prices on everything from souvenirs to food and drink, especially in the marketplaces. People should research the country they are visiting and see if this is common practice, because if it is, they can save quite a bit of money.
7 Utilize free entertainment
Almost every city in the world has a list of free entertainment and while it may be difficult to find this information in some cities, other cities make this information readily available to everyone. Certain cities offer free admission to museums, while others may offer free music in the park. Travelers should keep their eyes open for this information prior to their departure as well as when they land in the country and arrive at their hotel.
8 Choose activities wisely
There are many things that can only be done in certain areas of the world. For example, people can only go to the top of the real Eiffel Tower in France and they can only swim with the dolphins in the Bahamas and a few other places in the world. Although these opportunities may seem to be too good to pass up, people will want to be careful of how many things they do. The reason for this is that they all add up and those opportunities are an easy way to go way over budget.
These tips should help everyone save money for their next trip abroad or even in their own backyard. The savings that people find with these tips may even be enough to give them money to plan another trip sooner rather than later, and that’s the best possible outcome for those of us who love to travel.