Travel doesn’t have to break your bank. You don’t have to save for a year before you are able to get away from it all. You can do it right now if you manage your money and trip effectively.
Even thinking about taking vacation can make your wallet hurt.
First the initial cost of travel, transportation to destination. Then you have to make lodging arrangements, find the perfect hotel at the perfect price. Lastly, you can’t forget about your fun money! The stuff you want to spend so you can come back with souvenirs and memories.
How can you manage all of those costs and not go over budget? If you’re here you might know the first step to each rule – research.
Find a Nearby Destination
Do a search of your state or city + “tourism” or “tourist attraction”. I guarantee you’ll find something to see!
I’m very lucky and live in a west coast state and am only a few hours from the beach. Maybe you live in a city near a river or a state park? There may be attractions in just one town over that you’ve never heard of.
Every state has a tourism office, each of which create campaigns and offer information to attract tourist to their state. Browse your state’s website, look at nearby states you can get to, there will be something that will strike your interest!
Finding a tourist city or attraction that is within a reasonable drive will greatly reduce your vacation cost. Depending on your driving, you can go at least 200 miles in roughly 4 hours with a tank of gas. Of course cost will vary as gas prices differ around the world, but the general idea is to use cheaper transportation.
Be mindful of the expense to travel. If you must fly compare flight costs of each airline. If you’re dates for vacation are flexible try all different dates you can when booking your flight(same goes for hotels). Try to book direct, but also check those third party dealers.
These rates, or cost of the tickets, will change frequently; if your desired flight dates are too expensive move those days around. You should definitely book your flight before the hotel!
Try to book early, this tip works most of the time. In thanks to the changing rates sometimes the last minute booking can be the best priced. I wouldn’t recommend waiting until the last minute in the hopes of a lower rate though.
Do new things! There are exciting attractions just around the corner.
Know Your Hotel/Lodging
Booking your hotel can and will be a long process of researching. Use all of your resource power! Research your decided attractions and their locations. Use maps to find hotels that are in the right area and near your activities.
Once you find the right hotel you can start looking into booking the right price. You may want to pick at least three ideal hotels and do a full price comparison of each in order to find the best price and value.
Be wary of the lowest price and watch for words like “non-refundable” and “advanced payment”. These terms make changes and cancellations difficult.
Almost complete the process to get your actual bill total after taxes. Always look for fine print in the side of the screen or under your total- secret fees hide here! After completing this full comparison of price you are ready to book!
Be sure to join the loyalty program if you haven’t already, either for the hotel brand(Hilton Honors, IHG) or for the booking party brand(hotels.com) make sure you’re enrolled to earn credit for points or free stays!
Beware the incidental hold – the fine print on your confirmation will probably say something about a deposit. Most lodging businesses will want to confirm you method of payment and put a hold amount on the card in case there are any charges made to the room.
Be brave and ask questions; if you’re not sure about the rates or what you’re booking contact the property or company!
Manage Your Spending Money
Always know your budget before leaving the house – or hotel.
Even if you’re paying for your hotel with your debit, use your credit card for when you check in. Pay with cash or debit card when you check out to avoid adding credit card debt. The hold that is put on when you check in will return faster to a credit card rather than the debit.
Use cash for your spending money, always. If you visually see an d feel your money shrink you will be able to stop yourself from spending too much.
In each shop you visit, each item you pick up you will consciously think about the money in your wallet.
Consider your purchases, don’t just buy little things that you will lose or forget about. Buy things that pop out to you, things that you can’t buy at home. Stop yourself from buying things you already have or don’t need. Gifts are good as long as they are meaningful to the people they are meant for.
The always forgotten food budget is separate from your spending money. When you’re planning your budget remember to set aside an extra $50-$100 a day for food(depending on the size of your party).
When spending your money in a different place you should always try for something new.
Go into stores you wouldn’t think to go into – it’s okay not to buy something.
It is a wonderful feeling to come back home with money to spend next trip!
Find a nearby location you’d like to visit, research hotel prices and know what you’re booking, and manage your money! You can have a great vacation on a small budget!