It’s that time of year again! It’s summer vacation when the weather is warm and school is out; that means it’s the perfect time for a little vacation.
Planning a vacation can feel like a daunting task for a number of reason. Not only do you have to figure out accommodations and schedule activities, you also have to plan your expenses and budget wisely, which if done incorrectly, can make a vacation feel like a not-so-vacation after all.
There are a few fail-proof tips and tricks that will help you get more bang for your buck and reduce the stress of an expensive vacation:
Evaluate your transportation options
Flying might be the fastest option, but it’s not always the cheapest. Within the US, there are bus services like the classic Greyhound or the touristic Green Tortoise Adventure Bus that offer a cheaper and more scenic alternative to flying. A second alternative is traveling by train through companies like Amtrak that cover many portions of the nation and offer reasonable prices. For traveling in big groups, however, it’s typically wiser to pack your car up and drive rather than fly or take a train/bus. You can use GasBuddy to calculate exactly how much money you will be spending on any given road trip with your exact car and compare your options based on your number of travelers from there!
Plan in advance
In 2013, CheapAir evaluated the airfare of 4,191,533 trips from 320 days before takeoff to 1 day before takeoff. For domestic flights they found that it was best to book your flight 54 days before takeoff or more generally, between 29 days to 104 days in advance. Essentially, you don’t want to book your flight when the tickets are first released, because airlines will have to lower prices to compete with competition, but the demand to fly is so high, and people are often desperate or willing to pay the price for a last minute flight that airlines won’t lower the prices just days before the flight either.
Take off early and during the week
The cheapest flights available are the ones bright and early in the morning before the sun even rises during the week on days such as Tuesday and Wednesday. The worst days to travel on are Friday and Saturday, because they’re the busiest and the most expensive, so take a few extra days off of work, and avoid the crowd for a cheaper vacation!
Be a discount hunter
Groupon Getaways offers amazing vacation bundles and discounts. Consider checking out the options before setting your mind on one location. Otherwise, the website has a helpful search bar for dates and locations if you’ve already made the big decision of where and when to travel. They offer a wide selection of both national and international trip options. Some of my favorites on the current list are Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica and Nicaragua!
Although Groupon Getaways is my favorite site for discount getaways, there are many other websites looking to save you money traveling. Get Away Today is another highly rated website that offers deals to Disney, cruises, etc.
Live like the locals
There are two different options to live like the locals and save money on food. 1. go to a local market or grocery story to prep your own snacks and meals or 2. avoid touristy restaurants and look for the local restaurants. Restaurants close to popular monuments, museums, etc. often hike up their prices, knowing there will be a flood of people that won’t want leave the attractions to grab lunch. Finding a Mom and Pop shop around the corner can save you money, and you get to experience real life and culture in a new and exciting place!
I’m sure I missed something. How do you save money traveling? Where is your summer vacation taking you?