Today, I have another super helpful guest post from Dafina of Dollars Plus Sense. She’s going to give you 9 frugal travel tips that will make saving on your next vacation easy. Take it away, Dafina!
9 FRUGAL TRAVEL TIPS TO HELP YOU SAVE MONEY ON YOUR NEXT VACATION
Do you want to plan a vacation, but don’t want to break the bank?
I know the feeling! The weather is warming up, the kids are out of school, and now is a good time to get away.
However, according to CreditDonkey the average vacation costs $1,145 per person (or $4,580 for a family of 4)!
The good news is there are ways to make your next trip less expensive. In this POST, I’m going to give you 9 frugal travel tips to help you save money on your next vacation.
1. MAKE A BUDGET TO MANAGE YOUR SPENDING
The first step when planning for a vacation is knowing how much you can afford to spend.
Make a budget and plan your trip around that predetermined amount. Once you have an idea of what you would like to spend, start saving for it now.
Also, make a plan for how much spending money you will need while on vacation.
I like to use my cash envelopes as a way to control my spending. Once the cash is gone, it’s gone!
This helps me stick to my budget while on vacation, and prevents overspending.
You can sign up for these FREE cash envelopes to help you manage your spending while on vacation.
2. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BOOK
Make sure you do your research before you book your trip. Try to pick a destination that is currently in their low season. This is when travel to a particular place is less popular and prices are usually lower.
Once you decide where you want to go, use travel search engines like KAYAK when comparing the price of flights, hotels, and rental cars. KAYAK has some great tools like “Price Alerts” and “Price Forecast”.
The Price Alert feature lets you track prices on flights and hotels, and sends you a notification if prices drop.
The Price Forecast feature lets you know when to book or wait for a flight.
Just remember to remove the price alerts as soon as you book, so you don’t continue to get emails.
3. PLAN YOUR MEALS
The cost of food while on vacation can be a big expense.
Save money by planning your meals everyday.
Try booking a hotel that has breakfast included. This can save you money and the hassle of figuring out where to eat in the morning.
If you can’t get a good deal staying at a hotel where breakfast is included, pick up something quick and easy at a local grocery store (like pastries, yogurt, or fruit).
While at the grocery store, you can also pick up snacks to have throughout the day. Snacking is an excellent way to cut your food budget without going hungry.
Another option is to stay somewhere with a full kitchen. You can buy your own groceries and cook meals. Use this FREE weekly meal planner to help you plan your meals while on vacation (or even at home).
When you do decide to dine out, eat where the locals eat.
The food is usually much cheaper than the popular tourist locations, and tastier too.
Also, choose to dine out at lunch—not dinner. This is because lunch is almost always cheaper than dinner due to smaller portion sizes.
4. BOOK DIRECTLY WITH THE AIRLINE OR HOTEL
Most of the time booking with a third-party website isn’t cheaper than going directly to the airline or hotel.
Once you’ve done your research (through KAYAK or a similar website), use the online price quote as a starting point for negotiations when booking hotels or rental cars.
Call the hotel or rental company directly and ask for a price reduction. This tactic may not work so well with airlines, however, since they’re stricter with their pricing.
I still recommend you book directly even if the airline or hotel only matches the deal you found through the third-party website.
There are so many benefits to booking your flights or hotel directly, such as saving on cancellation fees and better customer service.
For example, if you are booking airfare in the United States, and want to cancel that booking within 24 hours, you can do so without a cancellation fee if you book directly with the airline (as long as it’s at least 7 days ahead of your flight).
Third-party websites will almost always charge you a cancellation fee.
5. DRIVE, DON’T FLY
If at all possible, consider driving rather than flying.
In most cases, you will find it to be cheaper to drive to destinations that are 12 hours or less. This is especially true if you’re traveling with several family members.
Driving will most likely be cheaper if:
- You drive your own car
- You’re traveling with a large group
- Airline ticket prices exceeds the cost of gas
- You don’t need to book a hotel room for the drive
So definitely compare the cost of driving verses flying. Use websites such as GasBuddy to calculate how much your trip will cost in gas; and then compare that to the cost of flying.
When calculating the cost of flying, don’t forget to include the price of airport parking, taxi fare to and from the airport, and/or baggage fees.
6. STAY SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN A HOTEL
Consider staying in a short-term rental instead of a hotel.
This is usually a cheaper option and you have access to a kitchen so you can prepare your own meals. Although Airbnb is the most popular website, definitely check out some of these other great alternatives in the short-term rental market. You may find you get a better deal than using Airbnb.
Other more unconventional options might be staying at a hostel, academic housing, or religious housing.
7. JOIN LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Loyalty programs are usually free and they can payoff.
When you sign up for these programs, you usually earn points towards cheaper rates, free upgrades, and other perks.
Although it may take a while to accumulate points, I have saved hundreds of dollars in the past years. So see if your favorite airline or hotel has a rewards program.
8. PACK LIGHT
Pack light to avoid checked bags.
Most airlines today charge a check bag fee that usually starts around $25 for the first bag, and more for any additional bags.
This cost can certainly add up if you’re traveling with multiple family members.
Another benefit to packing light is you reduce the chances of your bag getting lost by the airline, since you don’t have to check it.
9. DO WHAT THE LOCALS DO
When on vacation, eat where the locals eat; travel like the locals travel; and shop where the locals shop.
Use public transportation whenever possible. It will cost you less, and you gain more insight by hanging with the locals.
When shopping, look for local markets and outlet stores. You will save money on things like souvenirs, clothes, and food if you shop where the locals shop.
Finally, do what the locals do.
There are so many free activities you can do. Such as visit a museum (a lot of them have at least one free day); go to the beach; visit a local market; or go to a street fair.
These are all free local activities that can help you save money.
USE THESE FRUGAL TRAVEL TIPS
You don’t need to break the bank to take a vacation. The key is to plan in advance and shop for deals. Even if you splurge in one area, you can save and cut costs in other places.
By just using some of these tips, you can save your family hundreds of dollars. You work hard everyday and you deserve a vacation; but just make sure it’s one you can afford.
Dafina is the founder of the personal finance blog Dollars Plus Sense.
She went from being in the ICU to becoming a successful attorney and entrepreneur. Her story of how she saved $300,000 in 4 years took the Internet by storm. Read her inspiring story of how she was able to turn her six-figure debt into six-figure income HERE.