Taking a vacation and making memories with family and friends that last a lifetime… priceless. Well, no not really, but we have rounded up some of the most budget-friendly travel destinations you can consider if you’re looking to go somewhere memorable AND affordable, along with some other strategies to get the most bang for your buck.
Before we dive into the where, what and how’s of your vacation planning, remember that your vacation, including your budget, is all relative. What may be affordable to one person may be splurging to another. Or, what may sound like an unforgettable experience to one person, may be someone else’s worst nightmare. Traveling is something unique to each person, so be sure to always stay true to yourself and your values, and realistic on how you approach your experience.
Even the most affordable trip still requires planning and a budget. Once you determine where you want to go, you’ll need to create a budget for it. From travel to lodging to spending money, the more upfront planning you do, the better you can budget for it. Whether you have an ongoing travel fund you continuously contribute to, or you need to pick up a side hustle to cover your trip’s expenses, it’s important to avoid going into debt to pay for it. Instead, determine how you’ll save to cover the trip BEFORE you leave so you can truly relax and enjoy every minute of your time, without the worry of how you’ll pay it back once you get back home, and back to reality.
Here are some travel destinations and strategies to consider for your next vacation, to help your dollar go farther;
The Where – referencing Buzzfeed’s “21 Incredible Places Around the World That are Relatively Cheap to Visit,” here are some destinations you may consider: (1)
Or, you can get creative and choose a destination closer to home. For example:
- Get outdoors: book a camping trip in your local mountains, find a cabin in a nearby town or for the ultimate budget-saver, camp out in your own backyard.
- Enjoy a staycation: be a tourist in your hometown by booking a tour, checking out a local art gallery, trying a new restaurant, you name it! The key is to avoid doing any chores around the house and treat it like a real vacation.
- Visit family: have you lost touch with your cousin or can’t remember the last time you visited your in-laws? Use your vacation time to visit family. You’ll likely have a place to stay and will be able to spend some quality time together.
- Explore nearby areas: instead of spending money (and time) on travel, look to nearby towns to either stay at a Bed and Breakfast or go explore for a day. Driving just an hour away can feel like you’re truly getting out of town and can make for some fun memories
- Check out Groupon (or similar) Sites: whether you’re trying to find a vacation spot or a unique local experience, check these sites for some new and affordable ideas.
The When: if you can be flexible on travel dates, it can save you a great deal of money. The tricky part is determining when the off-season is for your travel destination. As a general rule of thumb, traveling during summer months, winter break and holidays will be the priciest.
Another strategy is to consider flying or staying on weekdays, instead of weekends. Hotels, rental cars and flights typically have higher prices on Friday-to-Sundays than on weekdays.
There are even strategies to take when you book a flight. (2) According to FareCompare, the best time to book flights is on Tuesdays, ideally early in the morning. Additionally, booking 47 days in advance showed to get the best price. Furthermore, tools such as www.airfarewatchdog.com or Kayak’s Hacker Tool can help ensure you’re getting the best deal. At the end of the day, every dollar counts. So the better price you can get on airfare, the more of your budget you’ll have available for your vacation.
The How: depending on where and when you’re planning to go, there are different strategies you can take to help stretch your money. Here are some ideas to start:
- Consider booking travel packages through retailers, such as Costco.
- Have portion control, in other words, cut down on your time spent away. Even just a weekend trip can provide the rest and relaxation you’re looking for, without needing to go far away.
- Find the best accommodations for your price point. Hostels or airbnbs may have better prices than a hotel, for example.
- Do your research before you go. Travel blogs and books will provide you with insider tips on how to most efficiently go about your trip. This is especially true for places like Disneyland or cruises where it can quickly add up if you don’t have a plan.
- Stick to your budget. Apps such as Trail Wallet or Spent! help you track your one-time trip budget and avoid overspending while you’re away.
Whether you’re a sucker for adventure or would rather be lying on the beach with a good romance novel, finding the best deal for your next vacation can make a big difference on your budget. Simple strategies for your destination of choice can be the difference maker. “To travel is to live” and you can do it without breaking the bank.
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