Whether you’re hitting the beach or chillin’ in Amsterdam, you can enjoy your travel experience on a limited budget. Develop a budget before you take off – not a repayment plan for after. Save in advance by automatically transferring money into a vacation account the day you’re paid. Pay for expenses like airfare or hotels as they come up and cash in your loyalty points. Racking up your credit card to pay for a trip you can’t afford will only cause stress that will interrupt sightseeing.
Major travel expenses can easily be slashed in half by travelling in the off season; tour Europe in April versus July. Or travel to a hidden gem that’s largely undiscovered and not a tourist hot spot; visit Croatia instead of Italy, or stay in the suburbs.
Last-minute travel can be booked for a bargain so long as you’re flexible on date, destination, flight schedules and accommodations.
Watch out for super cheap flights, often $50 or less. They’re saddled with airport, security and service fees that can make the deal less sweet. Nit-picky charges like $25 baggage fees can be avoided if you pack carry-on only. Sign up for travel deal email alerts and compare air and hotel fares regularly for lowest costs.
When in a foreign country, use regional airlines, or take the bus or train. Renting a car, scooter or motorbike from a local agency can be fun and affordable, too (don’t forget the map and ensure you can drive stick-shift). Or consider biking, hiking or backpacking and take public transportation when you can.
Large hotel chains can offer great deals from time to time, and check to see if you can use your company’s corporate rate. Consider staying at a boutique hotel. If you’re travelling for more than a week, rent a condo, participate in a house swap (homelink.ca or homeexchange.com) or stay at a reputable hostel (hostelworld.com or hostels.com).
Food and entertainment can be more expensive than flights and hotel. Plan your days in advance, explore costs by visiting websites for sports events, museums, tours, Broadway shows or trips up the Empire State Building. Try to pack at least one meal; fresh fruit, granola bars, and nuts can satisfy your hunger.
Whatever your travel plans, don’t sacrifice safety to save money.