Satisfying your urge to explore can be tough when you don’t have a ton of extra cash. Traveling isn’t the cheapest hobby in the world – on the contrary, when you consider your transportation, your accommodations, your food, and any activities you want to enjoy, the costs can add up fast. Fortunately, if you are determined to travel on a tight budget, there are some steps you can take to curb expenses and keep things manageable. Here are ten travel hacks to help you explore on a budget:
1 – CONSIDER A ROAD TRIP.
Packing the car and heading to a nearby destination can be a great way to get out of town without spending a small fortune. Filling up the gas tank is far cheaper than purchasing airfare for the family, so see where you can go within a few hours of your home.
2 – CUT BACK ON FOOD COSTS.
Most people think vacation means eating at a full-service, sit-down restaurant for nearly every meal. This doesn’t have to be the case. Even if you aren’t staying in a vacation rental with a full kitchen, you can still cut back on your food expenses by grabbing some granola bars or ingredients for sandwiches at a local grocery store.
3 – BOOK AHEAD.
If you’re traveling on a budget, you can’t afford to pay a premium on last-minute airfare or hotel rooms. Instead, book early when availability is still high to ensure the best deal. Do some research to determine just how far out you should book – this varies based on the season and your destination.
4 – LOOK FOR FREE DAYS AT LOCAL ATTRACTIONS.
Many museums, zoos, and other public attractions will occasionally waive entry fees for guests. Be sure to read the fine print carefully here – sometimes free admission is only offered to students or seniors, and others only promise a few hours of free access – not a full day.
5 – EXPLORE OUTDOORS.
The majority of parks, beaches, hiking trails, and other outdoor attractions you’ll encounter on your travels are entirely free to the public. Spending time outside, exploring these places, can be a great way to save cash when you’re on vacation. Just make sure you pack the right clothes for the elements!
6 – CONSIDER “OFF THE BEATEN PATH” DESTINATIONS.
If you want to travel on a budget, steer clear of big-name vacation destinations. You’re going to struggle to keep a trip to New York City, London, or Rome affordable. However, there are plenty of lesser-known spots that offer an excellent experience and won’t cost a dime. Do a bit of research and see what you can find!
7 – DON’T BE AFRAID OF PUBLIC TRANSIT.
Many travelers aren’t used to public transportation at home, so the idea of taking a bus, train, or metro on vacation can seem stressful. However, if you’re eager to visit a major city, you can save quite a bit of money by booking an affordable hotel on the outskirts of town and using public transit to reach your activity of choice.
8 – VISIT FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
This is a great way to stay connected with loved ones and satisfy your itch to travel. If you don’t need the privacy of your own hotel room and have friends who don’t mind sharing their space with you and your companions for a few days, you’ll save yourself the cost of a hotel room – and likely cut back on food expenses as well. Be sure to treat your host to something nice, like a dinner out or a bottle of wine, as a way to show your thanks.
9 – LOOK FOR PACKAGE DEALS.
Many travel booking sites offer vacation packages that bundle hotels, rental cars, and occasionally airfare. While not all packages are a good deal, you can find some that are a real steal! And don’t forget about websites like Groupon. You can find international vacation packages there for surprisingly low prices.
10 – DITCH THE SOUVENIRS.
Some people love the idea of purchasing trinkets and souvenirs when they travel, but this is one area where you can easily cut back on your budget. Remember your trip through the photos you take and the memories you make – not the things you buy while you’re there.
As you can see, going on vacation doesn’t have to be too expensive. By taking some steps to cut costs and curb expenses, you’ll find you can enjoy a wonderful trip without breaking the bank.