It’s vacation time, but you're not looking to break the bank. Don’t worry! There are lots of tips to take a trip without missing out on the fun! Here are 8 tips for planning your next vacation on a budget
Your summer vacation might look a little different this year, as different travel restrictions due to COVID-19 have made us a little less likely to splurge by taking our once-in-a-lifetime dream vacations all over the world. Though if you're brave enough to take an airplane this year, you might be able to get some great deals on flights!
You’ve decided where you want to go on your vacation. Now you just need to figure out how to get there! If you’re flying, it’s always good practice to book as far in advance as possible, although the prices will be best about 7 weeks in advance. As a general rule, the closer you are to your flight date, the more expensive the flights will be. You should also check out a few different websites to compare prices. Kayak is a popular one, as are Skyscanner and Expedia.
When choosing a flight, watch out for those extra fees, which can quickly add up. A few airlines still don’t charge extra for baggage or for things like children’s car seats, but many do. In addition, sometimes you might notice that a flight is cheaper if you also book a hotel. Don’t worry! You can book that package deal and just not stay at the hotel.
As with flights, it pays to book your rental car as soon as you’ve fixed your destination and dates. Doing that can save you a bundle on your budget vacation. Besides, if you’ve waited too long to reserve over a big holiday, you might get some bad news. During high-travel holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might find there are no more cars available. And, if you’re traveling to an out-of-the-way place, there might not be too many cars to go around in the first place.
Another way you can save money is by having a credit card that covers insurance. There will be some restrictions in place, so be sure to read the fine print. But by using the insurance that goes along with your card you can avoid the hefty rental car insurance charges. Use a reputable car-rental service. Some agencies seem too-good-to-be-true but then will swindle you into extra fees and rates. And make sure you’re not talked into all the fancy extras when you get to the counter. Refraining from that allows you to spend a little more elsewhere on your budget vacation.
There are several ways to save big on accommodations. Again, it pays to take a look at various websites for hotels. But does it need to be a hotel? Especially for families, it can really pay off to rent a private apartment or house for your budget vacation. You can find these over websites such as Airbnb or HomeAway. These accommodations are not only often less expensive than a hotel, but they provide other benefits as well. For one, you're able to cook your own food instead of having to eat at restaurants. Also, you’ll have more room to stretch out and find a quiet corner if the kids are too loud. Airbnb is a widely-used service and you can rate sellers/users based on your experience.
If you haven’t arrived at your destination by car, you can save tons of money by using public transportation. There’s no need to take taxis or use a rental car in big cities. Public transport will often save you a lot of time too, especially in congested cities like Paris or New York City. And be sure to check for sightseeing passes before you leave. They often offer discounted admission to a variety of tourist stops. Another popular way of making sure you see all the highlights while sticking to your budget is to use a hop-on-hop-off bus. These have become widespread in bigger cities. For a fixed price, you can hop on and visit as many places as you like along the route.
There are a lot of ways to keep costs down on a budget vacation. Eat lunch on a park bench with bread, cheese, and wine when you're Paris. Who needs an expensive restaurant when the sights are free? In high-tourism areas, one of the largest expenses can be restaurants and food. If you go to Disney World, pack a lunch and maybe only splurge on buying an afternoon treat or snack. But perhaps the most important way to make sure your holiday doesn’t end up costing an arm and a leg is to set a budget and keep to it. Enjoy the occasional splurge, but make sure you save money where you can.
Have you ever tried to be a tourist in your own city? Even if you've grown up in the area, it's easy to take for granted the history and sights it may have. Are there any museums? Gardens? Historical landmarks? Check your city's website or search the web for local tourism attractions. There may be plenty of undiscovered gems just waiting to be explored. Even traveling regionally can cut airfare costs way down. International travel is a glitzy idea, but there's probably plenty of exciting sights and activities in your own country that will cost you a lot less.
Are you into the outdoors? Camping in a state or national park can be an affordable way to unplug, enjoy nature, and see all the beautiful sights! Take a hike or swim in the lake. Learn about the state park's wildlife. While you may need to invest in some camping gear, it's a purchase that will pay off, as you can use it again and again. Who knows? You may discover a new favorite family hobby! A road trip is also a fun and cheap way to get to your destination and see sights along the way.
Traveling during the offseason is a great way to get discounted rates on travel fare and hotel packages. And, there will likely be fewer crowds to deal with. The off-season may mean less favorable weather, so take that into consideration. If you're down for fewer crowds and cheaper fare, check the off-season prices. You may just find it's worth it! Also, check for flights that mid-week or Saturday. These are the cheapest days to travel by plane!
Whether it's a budget-friendly stay-cation or a frugal trip to a new city, there are plenty of ways to travel without dipping into your savings. Wherever you go, be sure to send lots of great photos to your family on FamilyApp!