Spring is in full bloom and we are pulling out our travel calendars in preparation for summer getaways and the soon-approaching “wedding season.” While we all wish we could have unlimited travel funds and jet-set around the globe, most of us are tethered by other financial obligations that encourage us to be budget-minded when we book our fabulous trips.
In celebration of the upcoming travel season, we wanted to share some of our favorite budget-friendly travel tips.
- Book Early: The most simple tip, and yet the most challenging to execute, is to make all your reservations as early as possible. Without a doubt, you will get the best pricing and the most variety in everything from flights to hotels, activities to car rentals. For an added convenience, most booking sites allow a certain amount of flexibility in modifying or cancelling your reservation, without penalty. As a result, booking early will allow you to “lock in” a special price, but the flexibility to cancel, if something better comes along (or your plans change).
- Pre-Plan Activities and Eateries: Consider doing some research prior to your trip on some of the activities that you want to participate in, and even some key restaurants to visit. While it’s fun to leave part of your trip up in the air, pre-planning a portion can allow you to search for a good deal for tickets to a Broadway show, or point you in the direction of that amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant that people rave about on Yelp.
- Alternate Accommodations: With the rise of AirBNB and VRBO, there are lots of options for accommodations, beyond a traditional hotel stay. These privately-owned apartments and homes often times offer just what you’re looking for at a cheaper or comparable price. Plus, those that offer kitchens allow you to eat breakfast or lunch at home, which can cut down on food expenses (not to mention Vacation Weight Gain!).
- Travel Promo Codes: Make sure to check out the latest promo codes prior to booking anything for your trip. Most hotels, car rentals and activity companies have promotional discounts on sites like RetailMeNot, and many work with online rebate companies like eBates. While 10% may not seem like a lot in the moment, the savings can add up when you’re utilizing multiple codes.
- Voucher-Based Promotions: Have some flexibility in planning the exact days and activities of your trip? Consider popular voucher-based programs like LivingSocial, Groupon or Travelzoo. These companies provide fantastic discounts for a variety of destination activities. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a great deal on a river rafting adventure or a budding chef interest in taking a cooking class, vouchers can offer significant discounts on otherwise costly activities. While you always want to read the fine print for limitations (i.e. periods of time you can redeem your voucher), utilizing vouchers are a great way to increase the amount of activities you can participate in, without breaking your budget.
- Travel on Off-Hours: I love to try to book flights at “off hours.” I’m a morning person, so I often select the first flight option of the day. While you have to get up early, you often can maximize your activities in your destination by having time on your travel day to explore. Plus it reduces an extra evening at a hotel that you may incur when booking a later afternoon/evening flight.
- Stay Off the Beaten Path: If you’re visiting a city with a good public transportation system or even a destination with surrounding suburbs, consider booking accommodations just outside your main destination. Hotel prices can be significantly less—this way, you can avoid downtown prices but still have access to the travel attractions.
Do you have a favorite budget travel tip? If so, we’d love for you to share!