Are you thinking about that next vacation? Planning is the best part. However, the hardest part of executing a trip is having the money to do it. Perhaps a look at your financials or savings has you putting that idea on the shelf. Travel can be expensive, but you shouldn’t have to go into debt over it. Here are The Thirsty Tourist’s methods for saving money on travel.
How to Save Money for Travel
1. Be Organized and Have a Plan – When you are planning your vacation, be specific about: where you want to go, what you want to do and how long you will be gone for. Planning a trip for one person will be very different than planning for two or more, especially if accommodations and other items are shared.
2. Do The Research – Find out all of the information for the destinations you want to travel to. Determine how much it typically costs to travel to that location and if there are any additional costs such as transportation, food, drinks and entertainment. To find out this information look at tourism pages, vendors and booking sites to give you a rough cost estimate. Once you have this “final number” allow for a padding amount on any figures, say +10%, to allow for inflations or fluctuations in prices. Review any research numbers closer to when you are actually booking your vacation so there are no surprises.
3. Make a Budget – Calculate all of your monthly expenses. Determine if there are any extras that can be eliminated from it. Cut-back areas can include daily coffees, cigarettes, alcohol, meals out, TV packages, memberships you never use, monthly spa or haircut pampering, and new wardrobe purchases. Calculate how much you can actually set aside for travel each month. Be realistic about this amount, so you won’t get discouraged and can meet your monthly goal. Personally, we have an excel spreadsheet that allows us to track all of our bills, when they are due and if they have been paid for each month.
4. Stick to Your Budget – This isn’t going to be easy. There will be moments when you really want the newest technology gadget, a night on the town or to buy a gift for yourself. Fight back those moments when you want to splurge, and be sure to put back those impulse buys at the checkout. Ask yourself: “Do I REALLY need this item?” and “What happens if I don’t have this item?” If the answers to either of these questions are “No” and “Nothing” – Don’t buy the item.
5. Make a Few Lifestyle Changes – Let’s be honest, you are going to be having a blast, and you will indulge a bit on your vacation. Try to look forward to that. Instead of eating or drinking out while you are trying to save money, head on over to the grocery store and make more meals at home. We find that grocery shopping is great for budgeting. In general we spend $10/person per day on food. In our household, Chris is such a great cook that we actually prefer to eat in than to go to a restaurant. Consider planning a movie night or board game evening at home. If you still want to go out socializing or to parties, see if you can make some drinks before-hand or be the designated driver. You will still have fun and save money too.
6. Open a Savings Account – Each month, transfer money out of your main bank account over to a dedicated account for travel. Don’t touch this money until you are actually traveling. To avoid paying an additional banking account fee, some banks offer savings accounts without a monthly fee. Talk to your financial representative about this. If this sounds like too much work, do it the old fashion way and use a glass jar or envelope to put extra money into.
7. Sign up For Travel Rewards – We are signed up for almost every travel rewards card out there. The reason for it is that they are free and why not earn travel points for everyday purchases. Eventually there will be enough points on there to redeem for something on one of our trips.
8. Save Energy on your Existing Energy Bills – Easy ways to implement this are by setting the thermostat a couple degrees from the normal target, and by unplugging appliances or turning off items that draw power even when they are plugged in. Another way to save on energy bills is to carpool to work or to take public transportation. For nearby destinations consider walking or biking to them if you can.
9. Plan Purchases In Advance – If you know what items you require for travel, you should be able to save some money by not buying them last minute. If you have plenty of time, don’t rush these purchases just for the sake of having them done. Wait until you feel you are getting the best price to purchase.
Plane Tickets: Buying them far in advance will save money. You can compare daily prices and also take advantage of any seat sales. Are you able to travel in the off-season? This will also provide savings.
Travel Equipment and Clothing: Let’s say you need a new backpack or new travel outfits…Look for sales after holidays or end of season clearance sales instead of paying full price. Shopping online or looking at multiple stores until you find the lowest price item and then buying it should also allow you to get the best deals.
Find Group Rates: If you know of anyone else going to the same destination or are traveling with a group of people, travel providers often provide a group discount. You can find out by calling travel providers directly. This discount amount is usually larger for a bigger group of people.
10. Wait to Purchase Travel Tours and Excursions – BUT WAIT, you just said to be organized and to plan in advance. Yes we did…but in our experience it makes sense to wait until you are at the actual destination to purchase any tours or vacation off-resort excursions. Resist buying them through online websites, the airline or vacation companies or through the resort directly. Often there is a local travel and tourism company who offer the same excursions for much lower prices. To make sure you are getting the best bang-for-your-buck and to avoid scams, check online website reviews for a second opinion and rating, as many people have been to the same destinations and outings.
While You are Waiting and Saving…
As a bonus tip: 11. Enjoy budget backyard adventures. Just because you are saving, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. Here at The Thirsty Tourist we find you the greatest ways to have fun at home and abroad inexpensively.
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