The urge to get away hits most people at some point, but the costs involved with doing so can add up quickly — from airfare and hotels to food and souvenirs, prices might make traveling seem impossible. With a little research, you can lower the cost of your vacation. Here are a few money-saving tactics you can try to budget a trip.
1. Ask for Discounts
American culture is not a bargaining culture, but that doesn’t mean that businesses are unwilling to give discounts when asked. Hotels and tour companies, for example, can offer discounted rates, especially during times when they are having trouble booking to full capacity. You can try a few different tactics when asking for a discount. If you’re a student, ask if the business will extend a student discount. Many businesses offer discounts to frequent customers, but even if businesses don’t, you can still ask for a discount as a reward for being loyal. You can also try old-fashioned bargaining. Explain to managers that you’d love to use their services, and then state the price you are willing to pay. Even if they don’t accept your proposed price, many will at least try to meet you halfway. And if you encounter a business that is unwilling to extend any form of discount, you haven’t lost anything by asking.
2. Travel in the Offseason
One of the easiest ways to save money while traveling is to travel when everyone else isn’t. Many popular tourist destinations rely on tourism dollars to stimulate their local economies, so when the offseason hits, they usually extend discounts to encourage visitors. The tradeoffs you’ll experience by traveling during the offseason, such as colder or wetter weather, will be offset by the money you’ll save and the lack of crowds. You may also find it easier to receive time off work, since you won’t be trying to take off when everyone else is leaving too.
3. Purchase Discount Passes
If you’ll be traveling to a large city with many attractions, such as museums, aquariums, water parks, and more, look for discount passes for travelers. These passes generally grant entrance to multiple attractions for less than it would cost to purchase admission to each separately. The city of Chicago, for example, offers the CityPASS, which grants travelers admission to five popular attractions at a 49 percent discount. London travelers can take advantage of the London Pass, which not only offers travelers discount admission to many of the city’s most popular sights, such as the Tower of London, but also includes a guidebook and discounts at various shops. When choosing a pass, make sure that you have enough time to take advantage of all that it offers so you get your money’s worth.
4. Take Advantage of Free Admission
If a travel pass is out of your price range, you can take advantage of attractions with free admission. Because most cities encourage tourism, you’ll usually find a list of free attractions on cities’ tourism websites. For instance, the Kansas City, Missouri, tourism website offers a section devoted to free things to do, from museums to markets to gardens. Even cities that are typically thought of as expensive destinations, such as Paris, France, contain plenty of places to visit with no admission charge. To cut costs even further, plan to walk or bicycle between sites — you’ll save money on cab or bus fare.
5. Live Like a Local
Vacations are a time to get away from everyday routines, so they’re often a time for pampering and lavish meals. You can get just as much enjoyment and relaxation, as from living the way locals live by avoiding high-priced luxury accommodations, restaurants, and shopping centers. If you’re willing to exchange a moderate amount of work for room and board, you don’t have to pay for accommodation at all. Organizations such as Help Exchange and WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) allow travelers to find farms or small businesses who will trade work for a place to stay and meals. If you’d rather not work, look for budget accommodations away from expensive tourist centers, eat in small local restaurants and shop at local markets.
Remember, the quality of your vacation isn’t dependent on the amount of money you spend, but rather how much you enjoy your time. By taking advantage of free offers and asking for discounts when you can, you’ll be sure to not only enjoy your vacation, but also save money for the next time you get the urge to wander.
Do you have any strategies you use to budget a trip that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!