Going on vacation can take a hefty toll on your bank account. However, many travelers don't know how to travel cheaply and get the most out of their money. Let's look at some expensive travel items and ways in which you can get the same luxury experience without the giant price tag.
Managing the Cost
We chatted with Pete the Planner, Author of Change Your Financial Life in Just 60 Days, and got very sobering advice, "If you can't afford it, don't go." He suggests saving money over time for that dream vacation. One of the highest costs associated with traveling is airfare. Plane tickets are expensive, and the prices fluctuate constantly, making it difficult to know if you're getting the best deal possible. Look at as many different airlines as you can to find the one with the best prices.
"If you can't afford it, don't go." - Pete The Planner
You can also use websites like kayak.com to help compare the costs. Compare the prices of a roundtrip ticket vs. buying a one-way ticket to get there and a one-way ticket back. Sometimes one or the other will be much cheaper. Be sure to look for hidden fees like baggage and taxes when you're buying, since most prices listed are the base amount before those fees are applied.
Another important aspect of getting discounted plane tickets is when you buy them. Buying your tickets four to six weeks before you travel may result in the cheapest cost. Prices are often less expensive in the middle of the week as well, so shop on weekdays and, if you can avoid flying on a weekend, do so.
Also, check the season of your destination. Plane tickets are often much cheaper during the shoulder season (the time between summer and fall or rainy season and dry season) when the weather is still fairly nice but tourist traffic has decreased.
Getting Around your Destination
Once you're at your destination, getting around can have a hefty price tag as well. If you're visiting Europe or somewhere with comprehensive public transportation, look into buying multi-day passes for the metro, rail system, or buses. Buying the pass can be much cheaper than paying by day since you get unlimited access for those days. Even if you decide not to buy a pass, a metro or bus will usually be less expensive than taking a taxi.
If you are in a country or city that lacks public transportation, renting a car could be your best option. Compare the prices between a one-way car rental (where the pick-up city and drop-off city are different) and a regular rental (where you return it to the same place you rented it). The one-way car rental is usually much more expensive, so consider making your vacation plans start and end in the same city.
Choosing a Hotel
Hotels can also be expensive. However, there are a few good ways to soften that blow. Look at prices in a smaller town that is near the big city. Usually these hotels will have cheaper prices, and the short drive can offer you charming sights you might have missed by staying in the city.
Consider calling a smaller hotel chain and asking if they will give you a free night.
If you made a reservation already, consider calling a smaller hotel chain and asking if they will give you a free night if you switch your reservation. It never hurts to ask, and you might end up with an unexpected deal.
If the hotel prices are just not what you want, consider looking into a home exchange. There are many websites and reputable companies that will arrange these for you, and it can be a great experience to stay in an actual house while traveling. You get accommodations that a hotel just can't offer, like a full kitchen, and it's fun to "trade lives" for a brief amount of time. Be sure to do your homework, though, and thoroughly research the person(s) who will be living in your own house.
As with most things, researching your options is going to be your best bet to finding the deal of the century. While vacationing can be expensive, it doesn't have to be if you use these tips and tricks on how to travel cheaply and have a great experience with an even better price