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Ahh, vacation. Can’t you just smell the salty ocean air and feel the sand between your toes? What a relaxing proposition. All of us could use a nice trip to get away from all the stresses of everyday life. But there’s one pesky thing to tackle first – money!
Travel isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to break your budget, either. Would-be travelers can take simple steps to lessen expenses. So, let’s talk about some of the best steps to help you afford your next vacation!
Open a Travel Savings Account
When you’re getting ready to take your next vacation, it’s always a great idea to designate a specific savings account just for travel. Online bank accounts are great for this. Not only can you typically earn a higher interest rate, it also keeps your travel dollars separate so you don’t accidentally spend them on something else.
If you know the total amount your trip should cost, do some simple math to figure out how much you’ll need to put aside each month in your travel fund until the trip begins or you need to make reservations. Thinking about the amazing sights you’ll visit will make giving up certain luxuries to save for the trip totally worth the sacrifice!
Start a Side Hustle
I’m a huge fan of the side hustle – it offers the ability to make a little (or a lot) of extra money to use toward expenses, including travel! Even if you only have a few hours a week to devote to it, why not give it a try?
Perhaps you could sell a homemade product, tutor online, or drive for a ride-sharing business. Really, the possibilities are endless, and you can sock away all the extra cash you earn in your travel fund!
Use Credit Card Rewards
So many credit cards offer awesome rewards and what better way to spend those rewards than by seeing more of the world? Many travel credit cards offer points to be used toward hotel accommodations, airline tickets, and more.
There are also plenty of basic rewards cards, where you earn a set percentage of cash back on all purchases. Since you’re likely using credit cards for stuff you’d buy anyway, it’s a no-brainer to get something back. Plan to apply all of your credit card rewards to your next vacation, and watch your travel expenses melt away!
Explore Cheaper Destinations
You can shave a lot off the total cost of any trip by being flexible about where you go. If you’re traveling to pricier cities like Paris or London, there’s no way around it: you’ll probably have to spend some money.
On the other hand, choosing less expensive locales will help get more bang for your buck. Do some research to find out which locations offer similar experiences to the high-profile ones you know, but at a fraction of the cost. Who knows? You may even discover a hidden gem that you’ve never heard of!
Choose Inexpensive Lodgings
Paying for lodging on vacation can be a drag. But there are plenty of affordable options for the savvy traveler!
Do some price-comparisons on the possible places to stay for your upcoming trip, and decide whether it would be worth the money to go with a cheaper option. Maybe you’re into camping? Would an Airbnb save you money over a fancy hotel? Shop around to find what’s best for you.
Use Travel Insurance When It’s Worth It
Any time you fork over cash on a vacation, it’s a bummer if you don’t actually get to go. Sometimes stuff can come up! If a family emergency or an illness or other unforeseen event happens, you could be out a lot of cash if you don’t have travel insurance.
Medical issues or emergencies? Unexpected cancellations? They can cause a lot of headaches and a big dent in your budget. Travel insurance plans will get you covered and give you peace of mind.
Now, there are some trips where travel insurance just isn’t worth the money. If your total vacation cost is already fairly low, then unexpected cancellations won’t impact you all that much. But travel insurance is definitely something to consider in other situations. In the long run, spending a little could save you a lot!
Travel During Off-Peak Times
Here’s another step to saving major bucks on your vacation costs: traveling off-peak.
You may be able to go on the same exact trip for much less by carefully selecting the days and times you travel. If your departure or return dates aren’t set in stone, try the “flexible dates” search option on travel sites or set up a Google search.
This is especially useful over holidays. See if you can take your flight on a less popular day or time than the main part of the holiday. For example, if it’s Thanksgiving weekend, you can save money by flying early on Thanksgiving Day, rather than on the Tuesday or Wednesday before. Yes, it might not be the ideal time, but you’ll still get to enjoy the holiday trip, and for much less!
Hit the Road
Typically, for shorter journeys, your total cost will be lower if you drive rather than fly. You can even take a train.
When you’re flying, every individual needs a ticket and a seat on the plane. That means the cost of your total trip can add up fast. For example, with four people at $300 a pop, that’ll come to $1200 overall, just to get there! If you can cover the same distance for a couple hundred dollars in gas, it’s more cost-effective to drive than fly. Plus, if you take your own vehicle, you won’t have to rent a car when you get there.
Avoid Baggage Fees with a Travel Backpack
Flying is necessary for certain destinations, of course, so try to optimize your air travel by avoiding baggage fees. Since airlines often charge an arm and a leg for checked baggage, carrying on is a great alternative.
With the fantastic options for travel backpacks out there, you can pack a ton of stuff in a bag you carry on the plane with you, thus eliminating those pesky baggage fees charged by the airline. Carry everything you need, saving you both time and money!
Whether you want a family camping trip, a tour of Europe’s greatest cities, or something in between, you can make choices to keep costs down. Taking a few simple steps can make your next vacation not only fun, but affordable!
Kate Underwood is a freelance writer and staff writer for Club Thrifty, a website dedicated to helping people dream big, spend less, and travel more.
What trip are you saving for? Share your plans with us in the comments!