A 2012 Travel Leaders survey found more Americans are thinking creatively about when and how to travel, with many signing up for discounted deals outside of peak season. To save the most on your next vacation, incorporate these 5 budget travel tips.
1. Sign up for travel deal alerts to get a low ticket price
One of the best ways to save is to book a ticket (hotel, cruise, etc.) with a deep discount site. Sign up for travel alert emails from discount companies like Travelzoo, daily deals providers like Groupon or Living Social and hotel groups or airlines to stay on top of rates and find deals.
2. Pay the smart way
When traveling overseas, exchanging money to the local currency can be pricey. Do your homework ahead of time by calling your bank and credit card companies for a rundown of possible fees. Credit cards might charge a flat fee or a percent of the transaction; the former quickly gets pricey if you’re buying every meal and souvenir with your card. It could be cheaper to withdraw local currency with your ATM and take a one-time hit than to slowly accumulate big fines. Either way, find out what to expect then plan on using the least expensive payment method.
3. Embrace the shoulder season
Savvy travelers know that prices soar during the high season, or the best time to visit a given area. Fall in New England? You can bet prices are high. Ski season in the Alps? Probably not going to find a discounted offer. If you want to enjoy good weather without the sticker shock, consider traveling in the off season or the shoulder season, which falls between high and low season. The weather might be less than perfect, but prices will be lower and you won’t run into such crowds at the tourist attractions. If you’re willing to travel in the off season (e.g. Florida in summer or the Caribbean in rainy season), you can save as much as 50 percent off high-season prices.
4. Take an extra bag
If you anticipate shopping during your travels, take along an empty bag to fill with souvenirs. When flying internationally, most airlines up the baggage limit, which gives you an extra stowed bag. Even if you do have to pay a baggage fee, it will be cheaper than mailing souvenirs back home or trying to buy a bag to hold your goods from your vacation destination. Wayfair recommends luggage sets that nest for easy storage and accommodate a range of budgets and styles.
5. Stretch your budget with freebies and discounts
There are many ways to reduce your expenses once you’ve got your plane ticket and accommodations. Before you leave home, research public transit options, museum or attraction prices and local things to do. Many cultural institutions offer free or reduced price admission on certain days. Likewise, tourist cards that give discounts to multiple attractions or unlimited public transit for a set period can save you money over purchasing admission independently. Take advantage of any hotel perks like a complimentary breakfast or an evening happy hour to further stretch a budget.
And if you are looking for even more specific ways to save, you can check out these helpful posts:
Sometimes traveling isn’t an option, if that is the case, you can still enjoy a vacation at home, or a Staycation.