What is something fun that’s on everyone’s mind this time of year? Summer travel! Below, we have shared some great ideas, tips, and suggestions on how to get the biggest bang for your buck while traveling. We are not suggesting that every vacation should be on the cheap. Sometimes, we all enjoy splurging! However, where you can save, that’s more money in your pocket that you can spend on other things.
TIP #1: Create A Budget
This is probably the most important tip. Creating a budget determines how much you can spend without jeopardizing your financial future. Once you have your budget for your vacation, divide it by how many days you will be gone. This will give you a daily budget breakdown. Out of a $300 daily budget, say you’ll spend $50 for food; $50 for entertainment; and $200 for lodging. If you go over budget one day, you’ll have to compensate for it the next day and vice versa.
TIP #2: Use A Travel Rewards Card
A travel rewards credit card isn’t for everyone. You must stay disciplined in paying it off monthly and know what services you get for free as a cardholder. If you get access to hospitality suites or airport travel clubs, take advantage of them! If your card earns you air miles, make sure you choose a destination to where your specific airline travels. Use points whenever possible to book your travel. If you are a part of a loyalty program, take advantage of their specials and frequent their properties.
TIP #3: Be Flexible And Plan Ahead
If you aren’t dead set on a specific day, time, or airport, then flexibility is a great way to save money. Compare flights at nearby airports and travel during off season. Also, last minute cruise deals are a perfect way to travel on a budget. When it comes to finding deals, plan ahead and don’t take the first deal that you happen upon. Many cities have free museum days or discounted tickets after a certain time, and look for senior discounts if you qualify. Also, a lot of places have self-guided walking tours that you can follow on your phone. This is a great way to see and educate yourself on an area without having to spend money.
TIP #4: Transportation
Almost every big city has a form of public transportation. Using the bus, train, or subway system will connect you to places among the city quickly and cheaply. Don’t just purchase tickets on the fly. Look for ticket books which give you some savings when using a specific public transportation for a few days or a week. Be aware of your surroundings and always keep safety in mind. Most public transportation is very safe, but it is important to be aware. In smaller cities, renting a bike or scooter for the day is another option for getting around and seeing the sights.
TIP #5: Avoid Eating Out
We’re not saying to avoid eating out at all, but try to avoid it for every meal. Book a condo or Airbnb with a kitchen, and shop at local grocery stores. Purchasing groceries at a local market not only allows you to save money on meals, but you’ll also have snacks for during the day if you are going on tours or excursions. Stay at a hotel or BnB with breakfast included, and load up on a hearty breakfast. This allows you to only need a small meal or snack in between meals until you can have an early dinner. Try to avoid super touristy areas for your meals. This will only lead to inflated prices. Instead, ask the locals their favorite places to dine. Take a reusable water bottle with you so that you always have a drink available.
TIP #6: Packing
Baggage fees are constantly increasing and changing on airlines, causing your ticket price to increase $40-50 both ways. That’s $100! To avoid fees, try to choose an airline that doesn’t charge for bags or pack a carry on. However, airlines are even starting to charge for carry ons that are overhead luggage. You can purchase suitcases and bags that are specifically made to fit underneath your seat. These are great for weekend trips or if you plan on doing laundry at your destination. Use packing cubes or manual “vacuum seal” bags to save room. Also, do your research on the weather and read blogs about what other travelers recommend to pack for a certain time of year at a specific destination. Shoes always end up taking a lot of space in a bag. Try to find shoes that are both comfortable and can go from “day to night” easily.
TIP #7: Consider A Staycation
With the COVID pandemic, many of us have had to settle for a staycation or checking out local sites that are a short drive from our homes. Your city probably has a lot of unique history and places that you haven’t visited yet. Visit your local sport’s team for a game. Do all of the “touristy” things that you wouldn’t normally do. You never know what you are missing out on!
TIP #8: Go Camping
Camping is a great way to bond as a family, relax, and recharge in nature. Campgrounds usually run $20 for a site with water and electricity. If you don’t already have all of the gear, it is almost guaranteed that someone you know has camping gear that you can borrow. Renting an RV through websites like “RV Share” is another option for those that want a little more comfort and don’t want to worry about setting up an entire campsite. Purchase a state parks pass. It will pay for itself in no time and often offers discounts for camping. Choose a location with lots of activities like swimming, hiking, rope swings, and/or paddle boarding. Many larger state parks offer several family activities in their parks and campgrounds.
No matter what you choose to do or where you choose to go, the main thing is that you are making memories, especially for those with kids still in the home. They will remember the long car ride games, hikes in the rain, and the technology free time. So the next time you are ready to start planning your summer vacation, keep the above tips in mind. You never know what could happen tomorrow, so do some traveling while you are physically able to enjoy it.