Do you enjoy traveling but find yourself on a tight budget? Just because you have to think carefully about your personal finance doesn’t necessarily mean that you also have to give up your summer vacation or weekend break away. By carefully planning and organizing the bulk of your trip in advance, you can make significant savings and give yourself time to put aside some spending money each month.
Planning and research are both key to traveling inexpensively, and if you intend to travel within the next year or two, you could think about opening a savings account and making a monthly contribution to it for your vacation. If you set the goal of where you want to go and when you want to go there, it will be easier to achieve; according to Schwabb MoneyWise the best way to make your goals real is by writing them down.
Avoid traveling during peak times of the year, such as school vacations, as you will have to pay more for your accommodation and plane or bus ticket. While visiting Florida during the summer may be fun, if you’re planning an inexpensive vacation, it’s better to consider going out of season, when the weather is still warm, but the majority of tourists have left and hotels and restaurants are less crowded and less expensive.
Keep an eye out for cheap deals and discounts, as most airlines have great offers and discounts from time to time. Travelocity and Orbitz even allow you to register your favorite destinations and will alert you when there are offers available. If you already travel regularly, then make the most of your frequent flyer program by using the same airline and racking up air miles.
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Think about visiting cities that are not considered major tourist destinations. These lesser-known places have plenty to offer vacationers and the accommodation is usually cheaper than in major cities. If you’re planning to visit Louisiana, for example, skip New Orleans and try other cities in the state, such as Baton Rouge, Bossier City, Lake Charles and Shreveport. Another great thing about visiting less popular towns is that you can get to know the locals better and experience their culture in a more authentic way.
Check to see if you qualify for any discounts. If you’re a student for example, you can get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) and qualify for discounts on many things, from museum entry to hotel stays. Seniors can join organizations such as AARP and obtain senior discounts for travel, and military families, children and the disabled often qualify for special discounts when they plan vacations.
Eating out when traveling can get expensive, so you could think about staying in an apartment or apart-hotel with a kitchen that allows you to prepare your own food. Another option is to eat at places where the locals hang out as these eateries are often cheaper than the touristy restaurants and, in many cases, the food is actually better.
Usually, transportation is the major cost of vacationing and in some cases it may be cheaper to drive to your destination, rather than get there by plane. Make sure that your car is properly serviced and that you won’t run the risk of any roadside breakdowns or expensive repairs along the way.
So don’t get dishearten by your financial situation. You can travel on a budget, you just need to think smarter about your purchasing choices and learn to become a better planner.
Author: Michael Peggs is the founder of Marccx Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and Content Marketing. Before Marcxx, Peggs worked at Google in business development, forming digital media and advertising partnerships. He is also a blogger and podcaster, hosting the iTunes Top 10 New & Noteworthy podcast You University – The Personal Branding Podcast.