When you look to save money on your household budget, the small items can be the most productive. After all it’s hard to realize short term savings on big ticket items like your mortgage.
With vacations the opposite is true. You can grab major savings by planning ahead and using smart strategies. Today we’re looking at ways to save on these 5 big vacation expenses: transportation, accommodation, meals, entertainment, and communication.
Whether your transportation floats, flies, rolls on wheels or glides on rails it can be the biggest expense of the trip so savings here can be a real difference maker.
The two best rules of thumb here are plan ahead and be flexible. If you start looking early you can find some great deals, but you can also get a feel for when the best deals become available and plan accordingly.
By being flexible you can tailor your plans around your budget instead of the other way around. Instead of focusing on a single destination pick the top three from your bucket list and compare. Do the same with departure dates: pick a range and compare prices for different days and times.
Another big way to cut into your transportation costs is to eliminate side trips. Seeing 3-4 cities in a week might sound exciting but it will maximize your costs and the amount of time wasted in airports and train stations.
Most resorts and cities have more things to see and do than you can fit into a week. Pick a central location and stay there, and use local public transportation to move around between your lodgings and entertainment venues.
Always check room prices when checking airfare. Together they will determine your per day trip cost. A cheap rate on one may not connect with a cheap rate on the other, shopping for the lowest combined cost maximizes impact.
Don’t limit yourself to hotels here. Sites like Airbnb should always be in the mix: a vacation home, apartment or time-share condo for a week can be more comfortable than a hotel and competitive on price.
Always ask if you can get a weekly rate, you may find better deals. Booking week-long stays in one location saves money and it saves time spent on multiple checkouts and travel time moving from location to location.
We all expect prices to be a little higher around resort towns. Overspending on meals can really pile up over the course of a trip.
This is another place week-long stays can make an impact. With one trip to a local market you can stock a room or condo with snacks for the cost of one or two calls to room service.
Eliminating hotel food is a great way to save money and eat better in the process. And it’s the same case eliminating tourist-trap meals. As a rule of thumb, any restaurant within 5-6 blocks of a major entertainment venue or hotel will be geared toward tourists and charge you a larger amount than you might bargain for.
Walk past the tourist-traps and explore the local cuisine. The food will usually be better, the atmosphere more relaxed, and the prices far better.
We don’t take trips to sit in hotels. Seeing the sights and engaging in fun activities is usually the point of all the travel. A little research can go a long way here. Before your trip find internet forums with people who live there or have traveled there.
Sites like reddit with it’s wealth of city and country subreddits and online travel forums are a great resource for finding ideas and catching great deals to save money.
You should always check out tourist kiosks in airports and train stations, and ask around at hotels and restaurants. The local desk clerks and servers always have ideas, and hotel lobbies usually have a few brochures and discount coupons for you to check through. There’s no reason to pay full price if you don’t have to!
Most of us are carrying a dangerous hidden cost in our pocket or purse–our smart phone. Constantly roaming for signal and making calls or accessing internet on overseas networks can leave you with huge bills.
The best way to protect yourself from surprises is to know your situation. Check with your provider, make sure you know if your phone is locked or unlocked, if you have regular service where you are travelling or will be out of area.
In some cases you can buy a reasonable upgrade from your current provider, in others you can buy a prepaid card in the country you are visiting and load it on your current phone.
A third option to consider, if nothing else works, is picking up an unlocked used phone in the new country and loading it with a prepaid card. This can be pricey but sometimes it’s still the cheapest option you have.
Hopefully these points will come in handy when it comes time for your next trip and you can save money in the long run!