Traveling is great, but it certainly can put a dent in the wallet. Expenses can quickly add up once transportation, lodging, meals, and activities are factored into the cost. This is why it is extremely important to keep a budget in mind. If planned carefully with some allowed flexibility it is entirely possible to travel often and travel far, and still be mindful of a budget.
To help save money on transportation, consider the destination. If there is no way to avoid flying, make sure to be flexible and patient when reserving a flight. Departure dates can greatly affect the price of an airline ticket, so it may make sense to shift travel dates earlier or later depending on when cheaper fares are offered. Also, check airline prices often because rates are always changing based on availability. Many websites, like kayak.com, give an indicator of how certain analysts are that the price of a flight will increase or decrease based on historic data for the flight in question. If the end destination is within driving distance, this could be the cheapest option, especially if a group is traveling and fuel costs can be divided evenly between group members. Also, don’t forget to check public transportation options such as trains and buses; these can usually get travelers to their end destination much cheaper. Once at the destination, consider the different available transportation methods. In busy cities taxis or trains might be cheaper options and allow the traveler to avoid the headache of looking and paying for parking.
The name of the game in lodging is to find off-peak pricing. Try traveling the weeks just before and just after peak season. Hotels will often set their prices by season, but by shouldering the end of one season or the beginning of another, travelers can enjoy the same beautiful weather but not pay the high prices. If travel plans involve a group, try to look for multi-bedroom suites at hotels. While the rate might be more per night, when divided evenly between all of the people in the room, it usually turns out to be cheaper per person. Remember too that hotels are not the only lodging option. In most cities there are vacation rental homes, either rented through a rental company or by the owner, that are available. While the price may seem high for the week, once the cost is split between everyone in the group, the traveler comes out ahead.
So, the traveler has arrived at the destination, and checked into the lodging arrangements. Now it is time to worry about meals. Eating at a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner can become very expensive very quickly. This is where renting a house, or even a hotel suite with a kitchen, is a big cost saver. By purchasing groceries and cooking the meals at the house, travelers can save a ton of money. This is even better if a group is involved and meals can be prepared in bulk. If a kitchen isn’t available, try to find a hotel that at least has a mini-fridge in the room. Deli meats, veggies, or salads can make wonderful lunches or snacks. Also, try to find a hotel that includes breakfast with the room rate. Another option to save on meals is to bundle the room rental with an all inclusive package
There was a reason to go on this trip, so now it’s time to find something to do! Many destinations have free attractions such as national or state parks. There are also several landmarks and museums that are free to the public like the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. If traveling with a group, many attractions offer group discounts if the minimum amount of people is met. These discounts can be quite substantial in many cases.
Traveling can be stressful, but remember this is your time to relax and enjoy yourself! So make sure to do so and try to have some fun!