Traveling can be a fantastic experience, but it often comes with a hefty price tag. Between transportation, lodging, food, activities, and more, costs can add up quickly. However, with some smart planning and budgeting, you can make the most of your money when you’re on the road.
Here’s a guide to help you spend money on traveling but wisely so you can have the trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank.
How to make a budget for a trip?
The first step in creating a budget for a trip is estimating your costs. Break down expenses into categories like transportation, lodging, food, entertainment, etc. Research prices online for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, and activities at your destination. Be sure to factor in costs for travel days as well as the duration of your trip. Don’t forget small incidentals like taxis, tips, and souvenirs. Pad each category total by 10-20% to account for unexpected expenses.
Once you’ve estimated costs for all your major expense categories, add them together to come up with a daily budget. Then multiply your daily budget by the number of days your trip will last. This will give you a rough idea of your total trip costs. At this point, you may need to re-evaluate and cut back in certain areas if your total budget is higher than you expected or can afford. Prioritize essentials over nice-to-haves.
The last step is tracking in actual how long will money last. Use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to log expenses daily. That way you can quickly adjust your future daily estimates if you’ve under or over-budgeted in certain categories.
Research Transportation Options
One of the biggest travel expenses is often transportation. However, you have more options than you might realize for getting from point A to point B.
For example, budget airlines can offer huge savings compared to major carriers. Yet they fly similar routes. Additionally, consider ground transportation like trains, buses, or rideshares. These are frequently cheaper alternatives to flying.
Likewise, don’t rule out driving yourself. While gas and parking do cost money, you avoid ticket prices. Crunch the numbers to see if it makes financial sense for your trip.
Use Accommodation Discounts and Deals
Lodging is typically one of the largest travel costs. Fortunately, there are many ways to lower accommodation expenses and make your money last.
For starters, look for discounted rates and packages on hotel websites. Joining hotel loyalty programs can unlock exclusive deals too. Similarly, travel outside peak tourist seasons for lower hotel prices.
Alternatively, stay in short-term apartments or home rentals found on sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. Splitting costs with others saves money as well. Moreover, hostels provide basic, affordable lodging for backpackers and budget travelers.
Cook Your Own Meals
Dining out three times a day gets very expensive. Stocking up on groceries and cooking your own meals can be substantial.
Many lodging rentals include kitchens. Otherwise, look for places with at least a fridge, microwave, and/or hot plate. This lets you prepare simple meals. Plus, eating in also provides opportunities to experience local supermarkets and markets.
When you do dine out, go to cheaper local spots instead of touristy restaurants. Avoid sit-down meals every single day. Opt for quick, affordable street food or fast casual instead.
Use Public Transportation
Another budget-friendly option is to use public transportation when exploring your destination. Local buses, trains, and subways typically cost a fraction of what taxis, Ubers, or guided tours charge.
Public transport allows you to experience the city alongside residents. Meanwhile, you get to avoid traffic and parking issues. Download offline maps and study routes so you can confidently navigate new transit systems.
Walking tours are another economical way to see the sights if you’re up for being on your feet. You may even spot things you’d otherwise miss from a tour bus window.
Search for Free Activities
You don’t have to spend a fortune on attractions and entertainment. Do research ahead of time to find free things to do that align with your interests.
For example, look for free admission days at top museums or galleries. Attend free festivals, concerts, and cultural events too. Explore public parks, gardens, and beaches in the city.
Also, just strolling around a new place can be an adventure in itself. Wandering down unknown streets and neighborhoods reveals hidden gems and local flavor.
Travel During Off-Peak Times
As mentioned earlier, avoiding peak tourist seasons can instantly lower costs in various categories.
Airfare, lodging rates, attraction tickets, and more are all generally cheaper during shoulder seasons. That goes for international and domestic destinations alike.
You’ll also face fewer crowds. That means you can better enjoy everything you do pay for rather than battling hordes of people crammed into lines.
The tradeoff is weather may be more unpredictable. But dressing properly and staying flexible makes off-peak travel worthwhile.
Slow Down Your Pace
It’s easy to rush around desperately trying to see and do everything on quick vacations. However, this can be tiring and stressful. Not to mention, very expensive.
Instead, slow down your pace. Allow plenty of time in one place versus jam-packed days of hopping between locations and activities.
You’ll appreciate experiences more fully when you don’t feel rushed. Plus, you can fit in some restful downtime rather than constantly being “on the go.” This helps prevent burnout so you return home refreshed rather than needing a vacation from your vacation!
Take Advantage of Travel Hacking
One last tip for saving money on travel is to take advantage of travel hacking techniques. This involves using rewards points and miles earned on credit cards to score free flights, hotel nights, and more.
Opening bonus offers on new credit cards and maximizing category spending are key ways to rack up points. It takes some strategy, but the payoff is huge.
Travel hacking works best when you’re loyal to specific hotel chains or airlines. But with flexibility, you can accrue and redeem rewards through various programs.
Also Read: Travel Tips to Become the Savviest Traveler
Putting It All Together
Traveling on a budget simply requires creativity and commitment. Follow the tips above to minimize expenses in every category of your trip.
Researching discounts, avoiding unnecessary costs, and taking advantage of deals go a long way. Yet you can still have an amazing time on a shoestring budget.
Bon voyage! By spending wisely, you can make your money go further. That way, you get to have incredible travel experiences without draining your entire bank account.