When it comes to budgeting for a vacation, I’ve become a master at stretching every dollar. One summer I took my son to the Caribbean for six weeks using creativity and lots of planning. In fact, I came out ahead as I was able to rent my house for the time we were away.
Here are my favourite hacks to help save you money while travelling. Figure out what is important to you and where you are willing to compromise.
- Plan really ahead and take advantage of early booking bonuses. Set a daily rate and allow for some splurge money – after all this is your vacation.
- Travel off-season. Avoid hot trendy destinations. The weather not be perfect but there will be less tourists and more deals. You can always ask for upgrades and usually get them.
- Travel mid-week and off-peak times avoiding the higher rates charged for business travellers. Choose economy seats and consider flights with a stopover. It’s fun to amuse yourself in an airport like Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport during a layover! Travel light with carry-on luggage and avoid the extra baggage fees.
- Trains are a great budget-friendly alternative to travel, especially in Europe, and, of course, it is actually quite an enjoyable way to see the countryside.
- Think about renting a bicycle to get around or take local transportation. Passes can be used for longer stays or multi-destination trips. Many destinations have Hop On & Off passes which are a great way to explore at your leisure. And don’t forget you can always walk. Pick up a self-guided map and explore the local neighbourhoods. You never know what you will discover!
- When it comes to accommodation, think outside the hotel – such as a B&B, dormitory or perhaps a monastery – very quiet and you get a good night’s sleep. Some include breakfast, too. More hostels are popping up and are no longer your preconceived notion of wild frat parties. Some hostels are now geared to families and the over 55+ traveller. Try renting a cottage, apartment or condo and negotiate a longer stay agreement. Some hotels have studios with kitchenettes where you can save money by cooking the occasional meal and heating up leftovers from a restaurant. Visit markets and shop local!
- When dining out, eat where the locals eat and you will save money and perhaps have some engaging conversations!
- There are lots of free activities in every city, town or village. Local festivals, free museums, galleries and shows. Look for student, senior and slow day discount rates. A little research pays off!
- Not feeling quite so adventurous, then consider a guided group tour which matches the way you like to travel. Sharing costs can make an out of reach vacation more affordable.