I used to spend hours laboring over my budget for my next trip. Unfortunately, my planning often resulted in me never going on the trip, or I ended up postponing it for a year or two.
That’s what you do when you’re traveling on a budget and you need to save up enough cash first.
But I haven’t done that in years. Yes, I still spend hours planning. But my focus has changed and it increased the number of trips I can go on. I thought it would take decades to tick off everything on my bucket list. But I’ve seen more exotic places than I ever thought possible.
And you can do it too. It’s not about saving up enough money. It’s about using the money you have differently. And I’m going to show you how it works.
Get ready to pack your bags. You’re going.
Bring down the flight costs
The flight prices we see on travel websites are only half the truth. Instead of spending hours allocating my budget for a trip, I spend a few extra minutes searching for the right flights. Here’s what I look for:
-Many travel agencies and airways offer free flights to children if they fly with their parents. You can cut family travel costs by 50% with this tip.
-What you pay today won’t be what they ask tomorrow. Source flight prices for different times of the year. Also compare weekdays and weekend fees. If you don’t mind being flexible (see below as well), you can reach your destination for much less than you thought.
-Inclusive packages, that offers accommodation and transport as part of the deal, may be cheaper than booking everything separately.
And if you can save here, you’ll have more to spend on the rest of your trip.
Do what the locals do
I appreciate travel agents, but they’re not as informed as I thought.
More accurate information you’ll find once you arrive at your destination. Who would know the local scene better than staff at your hotel?
They won’t settle for paying high prices if there’s a better option in town. So follow—or simply ask—them to find the best options for:
-Stores to purchase food
-Views of the surrounds
-Places to hang out at night
Make friends with them and they may even take you along for the ultimate local adventure.
Thanks to technology, apps also provide similar information these days.
Get out of the tourist rut
What do you type into the Google search bar when you research your trip? Please stop looking at the usual tourist attractions. You’re missing the best parts of town and paying for it dearly.
Vendors in popular tourist areas know they can ask exorbitant prices. Tourists travel to discover things and they’re willing to pay for it. Be a different type of traveler.
Save money by looking for similar experiences, presents and photo opportunities in the lesser known parts of the city.
The uniqueness of your experience may be more satisfying than following the crowd where everyone takes the same type of pictures. That’s value for—little—money.
When it’s time to purchase gifts, souvenirs or necessities, think twice where and what you buy. I’ve purchased striking items at a local European market, only to notice a ‘Made in America’ sign when I got back home.
Make sure you purchase local items so you don’t pay the vendor’s import tax.
If you’re buying access or transport tickets, first try online options, where you’ll usually find more discounts.
See, it’s all about that research you do before you go.
Will age bring discounts ?
Don’t ever let an opportunity for saving pass you by. Vendors constantly aim to increase their sales to certain target markets. If you fall into one of them, you may save some money:
-Patrons over 60 are often offered special rates
-A student card can do wonders in getting discounts
-Children don’t always have to pay full price
If you don’t ask, employees may assume you don’t qualify for any specials. It’s up to you to take initiative. Not sure if they offer anything? There’s no shame in asking.
Buying food is where I used to spend way too much money. It doesn’t help that I have a sweet tooth that wants every pastry I see on a menu. And when you’re tired after waiting at an airport or in museum queues you tend to buy impulsively.
Now I pack a small snack pack wherever I go. They’re made up from reasonably priced items that I purchase before I leave for my trip, such as cereal bars. It prevents getting frustrated when the hunger pains come and I can spend my money on worthwhile items.
Local traveling is another item that can ruin your budget. Walking is a wise alternative, but cities are catching on to people’s needs. They may offer suitable options that don’t involve pricey taxi fees, such as hiring out bikes to the public.
Do it Yourself
Yes, a holiday is the time you want to relax and let others do things for you. But why join that expensive tour if you can go by yourself? Do enough research beforehand and your day will be just as fascinating.
Prepare to Compromise
Here’s the best tip in my opinion: You have to compromise if you want to enjoy your trip. Yes, you must have an expectation, but don’t be too specific. If you’re not willing to let go of some naïve ideas, you won’t enjoy your holiday as much:
-Swap your hotel meals for store bought items.
-Be willing to share transport with other travellers.
-Book less popular flights—usually at odd hours—that are offered at lower rates.
-Don’t travel in peak season.
-Book self-catering units instead of the best hotel rooms, so you can make your own meals.
I learnt that eventually I get tired of hotel food, so my own cooking is actually comforting.
Research, Research, Research
And here’s the second best tip. Invest in research time. Hours on the internet will turn into saving a lot of money.
Did you know an indirect flight may end up costing less than the flight you originally searched for? You won’t know unless you put in the time to compare options.
Can you adjust your mindset about traveling and incorporate these tips from now on? Then what is your next destination? Stop saying ‘one day’ and simply start your research today. You’ll be going sooner than you think. I’ll see you there!