If you don’t have a ton of travel experience, or you have to keep a tight budget, you might think it’s impossible to have the vacation of your dreams.
Roaming through Roman ruins or relaxing on the beaches of Thailand might seem like the stuff of movies, not real life.
But it’s actually possible to make travel plans on a budget with careful planning and consideration.
It’s insane to think about this statistic: a full 41% of Americans did not take any vacation days in 2015.
The chart above demonstrates that the wealthiest Americans spend much more on vacation, while the lower 50% spend very little because they do not take vacations.
Modern culture dictates that we work to the bone and not value leisure.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Here are a few tips to help you plan a fun vacation while still on a budget.
Set Aside A Full Day for some Heavy Duty Research
The simple truth is that the more research you do, the more bang for your buck you can get.
Starting your research early puts you in a good place to make great decisions financially.
Plus, you have time to formulate a backup plan and still have a great vacation in case some problem comes up.
Don’t only research costs: you have to make sure you can get a good understanding of a place before you decide to go there, or you will end up wasting money on a stressful vacation.
Make sure you research the nuances of a place’s culture before you go to keep your expectations reasonable, avoid culture shock, and be able to behave respectfully to the people in a new culture.
The climate is another important factor.
Research the overall climate as well as the climate during the specific time you plan to go.
That way you won’t get rained out of fun activities or stuck inside during a brutal heat wave.
Sometimes, these things can be hard to plan for, though.
Try reading travel blogs for first-hand accounts of places you are considering to see if the day to day life of a visit appeals to you.
Figure out when the off-season is
If you’re on a budget, try not to be too picky, and research when the most unpopular times are to take a vacation to a place.
If you can, schedule your trip during the off-season, and you can save a ton of money.
On Lonely Planet’s website, there is a whole list of different places which are best visited in the off-season.
Flights, especially, are a huge area of savings if you book in the off-season versus the peak months.
Finding Deals online
The internet is an awesome resource; so use it!
Try sites which compare travel costs and hotels and airfare such as Kayak or Travelocity, and see if Groupon has any deals for your destination.
If you don’t have time to keep checking on constantly changing airfare, you can often get lists and notices directly to your inbox.
Many travel deals have an expiration, so make sure you don’t miss out on a great deal due to inattention.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be painful
Yes, to travel on a budget, you have to plan very carefully.
However, it doesn’t have to be excruciatingly difficult.
The best thing you can do is decide how much you will save every month or week and set it aside to a savings plan you know specifically you will be using for travel.
Over the course of a year, saving a bit each month can help you pay for even the most expensive plane tickets.
If you have trouble keeping your planned budget schedule, there are loads of apps like Mint that help you plan and budget and save over time, sending you savings reminders as well.
Don’t only budget for the major expenses.
Remember all the small costs of getting around, taxis, going out to eat, etc.
Always try to overestimate the cost of travel, because we often end up having to spend more than we thought we would have to in an unfamiliar place.Click to tweet
Last Minute Cash Saving Strategies
Even after you’ve budgeted out everything you need and booked your travel tickets, there are still some other creative ways to save money leading up to and during your trip.
Some ideas include:
- Crowdfunding: Raising money for your travels on the internet can actually work something! Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe can help you get help from family and friends for your travels. You can set time limits and specific goals for donations.
- Sell Unneeded Things: If you came up short in your budgeting or are simply looking for a way to add some more flexible cash into your travel budget, sell some of the things lying around your house you don’t use. Have a yard sale or garage sale, or use online sites like Amazon or eBay to sell things like gently used books, clothing, or furniture.
- Take advantage of your airline voucher: Often, airlines will offer passengers on overbooked flights the chance to board a later flight to help accommodate everyone. If you be patient and take them up on this offer, you can get vouchers for one or even two more free flights for the inconvenience, especially if the airline is desperate.
- Figure out the cheapest days to fly: usually the middle of the week, on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
- Unlock your phone or use T-Mobile to avoid extreme international phone charges
- Don’t just eat cheap when traveling: eat cheap at home while you are saving up, so you will have money to splurge on fun meals out on your trip
- Call your bank and ask how you can avoid extra charges to your credit card abroad.
Traveling can be a reality, even for travelers on the tightest of budgets!
All you need is some time, planning, and a willingness to pinch pennies for a few months while you save up for the trip.
It will definitely be worth it once you’re lounging on that Cancun beach.