Work hard, play hard. That’s the spirit behind any great vacation, right? It’s true you deserve to reap the benefits of your hard work, even on a budget. To help you get the most value out of your trip, we’ve put together six tips for saving money on your summer vacation.
- Visit a new, but less expensive, city
Sure Paris, New York City and San Francisco are beautiful, rich in culture and fun. But the same can be said of Prague, Austin or Costa Rica. Sometimes the best – and most affordable – cities fly under the radar. With a little research, you could find one that piques your interest and is cost-friendly to tourists. Consider cities in the U.S. you haven’t been to but would love to explore: like New Orleans, Nashville or Denver. Ask friends for recommendations of interesting places they’ve visited, or look for places with a unique niche, like ghost hunting or hiking. You can also check out Forbes’ “The 30 Cheapest Places to Travel”for further inspiration.
- Travel with friends, family or a tour group
In some cases, you can save money on travel by sharing resources and negotiating for group rates. If you’re going on a road trip, you can split the cost of a rental house; go in on groceries for cheaper meals and divvy gas expenses. For traveling abroad, there are a number of agencies that plan cost-effective trips for groups. Leveraging their existing relationships, they can secure lower rates, and expenses like meals, travel and hotels are often included. Also, consider investing in travel insurance to ensure you’re reimbursed for mishaps like a missed flight or lost luggage.
- Look into alternatives to hotels
Hotels are certainly the most luxurious way to travel. But if you’re OK with trading fluffy white towels and a hot tub for a lower rate, you might try hostels, local bed and breakfasts or a home stay network like Airbnb. If you know a friend or relative in the city, they may be a willing host and helpful local expert. These alternatives can also put you in better touch with the local experience. As always, be careful, stay alert and do research on anything that seems too good to be true.
- Take advantage of cheaper transit
There are ways to save on transportation when it comes to traveling to and getting around your destination city. In Europe for example, it’s inexpensive to hop from city to city by train or plane thanks to discount services like Eurail and Ryanair. Depending on the length of your trip, you may benefit from a railpass for unlimited travel in Europe. Once you’re in a city, renting a car tends to be less cost-effective, while public transportation is more affordable and flexible.
- Earn rewards, and save on airline tickets
If you don’t already have a travel rewards card, you’ve probably heard of the concept but didn’t know if it would be right for you. A travel rewards card allows you to earn points toward travel just by making everyday purchases. Check with your bank to get an understanding of the options, how to make the most of your program and how to use a rewards card in a responsible way.
- Pack your itinerary with free or inexpensive activities
Look for a free music festival in a park and plan a picnic, or attend a museum that waives admission charges on a certain day. There could also be a historic landmark open to the public. Consult city websites or locals to compile a list of fun and free things to do. Guidebooks are also a good resource for finding local attractions at different price points.
It’s your vacation, and you should enjoy yourself. With a bit of preparation, you can do it in a way that won’t stress your finances. Locals, travel experts and guidebooks can be great resources for planning. Whether you take a road trip down south or fly abroad, we hope you have a safe, valuable and memorable trip. You’ve earned it!
For more savings tips, check out Rick Steves’ “Thrifty 50 Travel Tips”. Before you head out on your trip, be sure to contact us to put a travel alert on your debit card.