First of all, I will be the first to admit that its not always easy to save money while on family or solo trip Its said that today’s travelers are deciding to spend their money on experiences instead of trinkets and toys, as they believe this is better way to have long-term happiness. Therefore they are skipping the small (and large) and not shopping around or doing the small (or large ) things that can make a big difference on how much money you spend on a vacation .
With this in mind, I have found that if you take the time to do some pre planning and work around a few obstacles, you will find that you can make your vacation or experience dollars go a lot further then you thought.
Over the many years that I have been traveling I have come up here with short list of things you can easily do that will save you money on your next trip Some may take little planning and while others can be done on the fly. So without much further ado, here are some of my favorite ideas on ways to save money on your next trip without having to sacrifice the quality of your vacation.
Go with Budget Airlines!
Instead of traveling on the bigger and often more expensive carriers try to check with airlines such as Spirit or Air Norwegian. The way these airlines work is they give you a cheap base fare and then basically charge you for everything else. What does this mean? You need to travel light! If you are someone that travels with a lot of stuff then this might be for you as you as once you add everything up, you will probably spend just as much as one of the largest carriers. Therefore, travel light and save! Oh and 1 last point about this, be flexible with your dates and time as the more flexible you are the more money you can save.
This is what I like to look at when I am deciding on where I want to go next. If I don’t have a “must see” country than I will do a google search on countries where the US Dollar is the strongest and then narrow down my choices from there.
Travel the Shoulder Season!
Now a lot of people may suggest that you should go in the low season to get the best prices, which, basically is true however I would recommend that instead of traveling in the low season, instead go in the shoulder season. Shoulder season is the short window between low and high season’s. The reason I suggest that you go at this time is because you will still get low prices but you will have much better weather and places that may have been closed during the low season will now have just opened or if you are going at the end of a high season, have not yet closed. I always liked going at this time as you seem to get the best of both worlds.. good weather and still plenty to do but without the crowds or high prices.
Don’t Try and See Everything!
There are some people who like to travel to as many places as they can in the shortest amount of time. For example, 5 countries in 5 days that sort of thing. Oh, how this is a dreaded way of traveling. You never really see anything nor get to experience what a place or people are really like. The only thing you get out of this, I think, is you get to tell everyone all the countries (or cities) you went to. Instead, just go to fewer places and spend some time in each one. This will save you a ton in travel expenses and you will get to experience more fully the places you are visiting.
Instead of a Hotel – Rent a House with AirBnB!
You can really save a lot of money here, especially you are a family or a group of friends traveling together. The cost of the place you rent generally will be less expensive then the same amount of time in a hotel. Plus you can eat some meals at “home”. You also kind of force yourself to go to different places that you might not have if you stayed at hotel such as markets and grocery stores. However, if you decide to go with a hotel, try to find a hotel that has at least a microwave and/or refrigerator or even better a small kitchen. Also just get the most basic room, as really, how much time are you really going to spend in it? Also when checking on hotel prices, check the usual search engines such as bookings.com and then call the hotel direct. When you call or check with them ask them about AAA rates and any other discounts or specials or see if they will match the online price.
What is that you might be asking? This is where you live in a person or families house and look after it while they are away. It can work a couple of ways where you stay for free in exchange for taking care of the house and sometimes there pet. Depending on what is asked of you, it could even be a paid position. It can be difficult to get started doing this most people who are looking for house sitter with some kind of past reviews so you may want to start looking well in advance of your departure. There are some website you there you should check out if you think this might work for you such as:
- Trusted Housesitters
- House Carers
- Mind My House
- Match Stay
Staying at the Town Next Door!
Instead of staying in the center of a famous city, stay in town that close by subway or train. For example, instead of staying in the center of Paris, instead get a hotel or Airbnb at the town of Senlis! Its about a 1/2 hour on a direct train from downtown Paris but about a 1/3 of the price. Also you will find these “outer” town much less touristy and therefore less expensive for everything from food to drinks. This comes with a small bit of inconvenience as you will spend some additional time going back and forth but the saving are huge!
Avoid the Chain Places!
When you do decide to eat out, try to find more local family run businesses. These are generally much less expensive then chain restaurants or stores and more interesting to experience. Of course, you give up that consistency that you get with the chains but hey isn’t that what travel is all about to go outside your normal routine and experience something new? Also by meeting the locals you can hear about different places to see that you might not have known about or about a local event that may be happening.
I talk more in depth about this in another blog post, but basically use WI FI hot spots whenever possible and get an unlocked phone (if yours isn’t already) as well as a SIM card to the place you are traveling to either before you go or once you get there. The added benefit of this is you can use apps such as Yelp, google maps and road trippers to find highly rated or traveler recommended spots to eat at or visit without paying a fortune in roaming charges.
Use the Free Museum Days!
If you decide to visit a museum, usually you can get in free on a certain day of the month. Check online to see if your trip falls on those days, and plan accordingly. Also if you are already a member of a science or children’s museum, you may be able to get free admission to similar museums. Check out the Passport Program page at the website of the Association of Science and Technology Centers to see if any museums on your itinerary are members.
Check out the City Bureau of Tourism!
Once you get to a city or even better before you go, contact the city or cities tourism office and see what discounts they are offering for visitors. Usually these offices reach out to local business and ask for discount offering that they can pass along to visitors. This helps promote their city and also offers some good and free advertising for the local business. Also remember if you travel in low or shoulder season, the discounts are often more generous. Also check out Groupon and Living Social before you go and see if you can save on any of the “must do” activities or sites you want to see.
Get A Credit Card with Rewards!
Often there are offers out there that just by signing up will give you enough points to get a free ticket! You have to look but they are out there! Of course you have usually spend a certain amount by a certain time but its usually not a very high number. . Also, the deals are similar try to sign up for a card that is not airline specific so you are not tied to that one airline. Cards such as Chase Ultimate Rewards will allow you to transfer to an airline that you usually travel with.
Knowing how to save money on vacation doesn’t have to be brain surgery and you don’t have to give up on many of the things that are important to you. Contrary to what many people think you don’t have to sleep in basic places or look for places where your friends live so you can stay with them. I have only listed a few but as hopefully you can see there are many ways to save money on vacation. With a little planning and so careful research you can have a fantastic vacation and spend the money you are saving on the things that matter to you without selling house and home.