That glamorous five-resort vacation in the Bahamas sounds like the perfect winter getaway – but the price of it will definitely ruin your season. If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, it’s hard to stop pinning dream trips to your Pinterest boards even if you know you don’t have the budget for your dream destinations. Of course, there are plenty of ways to get where you want to go if you’re willing to travel on a budget. Don’t know where to start? Check out our favorite budget travel tips below.
Know where to compromise
Before you plan a trip, sit down and take note of what aspects of your vacation you consider non-negotiable. Do you need to have a sit down meal every day? Will you only take nonstop flights? Are you okay with changing your travel dates depending on airfare? Once you’ve decided what to prioritize, you will have also earmarked all of the things you’re willing to compromise on. For example, if where you’re staying doesn’t matter as much as your flight, you can book a bed in a hostel for significantly less and use what the money you would have spent for something else.
Avoiding chain restaurants (yes, even the local ones) not only saves you money, but it also makes you a better traveler. Certain restaurants, especially ones with “We Speak English” signs, are geared towards tourists and prices are significantly higher than independently-owned establishments. By sticking to local fare – think street food carts, family-run businesses, etc. – you’ll have a more authentic experience, and you’ll open yourself up to cuisines that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Ditch your ride
It’s easy to assume that once you’re in your destination of choice, you’ll need a rental vehicle so you’re not limited by transportation. Not only does this cost a lot of money, but depending on your location (and your age), it may not be necessary. Call your destination’s tourism office and ask them about transportation. If they say you don’t need a car to get around – trust them. You’ll save hundreds of dollars in fees if you choose to walk, rent a bike, or use public transportation.
Don’t be afraid to haggle
In most places, price points actually are negotiable. Whether you’re scouring a flea market for the perfect souvenir or booking a place to stay, it never hurts to ask about a potential discount. You’ll be surprised at how many people will be willing to hear you out if you’re respectful and complimentary of the item you’re trying to purchase. Keep in mind that negotiating works best over the phone or in person – not online or through emails.
Wait until the last minute
Really! While there are certain parts of travel you should plan in advance, like acquiring the right paperwork and updating your passport, you’ll be surprised at how many last minute deals you can find. Many websites offer last-minute discounts on hotels and flights, and local attractions sometimes offer “day of” specials. Yes, at first it might feel strange to travel a la the seat of your pants, but what’s travel without a little adventure?
Travel With Others
Solo travel can be more expensive than traveling with other people. If possible, travel with friends, family or groups. This way you can split the costs of hotels, transportation, meals etc. Solo travel is fun, but traveling with others is even more fun! Plus, it’s kinder on your bank account.
Do Your Own Planning
Instead of hiring a tour guide or tourist agency to book your trips, do it yourself. Yes, it’s more time consuming and can be a bit mind boggling, but you’ll save yourself a significant amount of money by doing all your own organizing and planning. Thankfully, the internet provides plenty of information for researching and planning your own trips, so don’t be afraid to be your own tour guide. Between deal websites like Hotels.com and Cheapflights.com downloadable offline maps, you really can seamlessly create a fantastic vacation at a fraction of the cost.