Travel Budget Series Part #1:
6 Ways to Cut Costs while Traveling
By Chaitanya Bala
We all love going on vacation. Whether we try to travel on a regular basis, or consider it a rare treat on special occasions, there’s something we all enjoy when traveling: discounts and saving money. Doesn’t matter if we’re luxury travelers who are willing to splurge on exotic deep-tissue massages, or backpackers who make last minute travel plans to get away from civilization for a week. If there are ways to save money, we will gladly take up the opportunity. So what exactly are some ways we can cut costs while traveling? It would seem that in today’s economy, finding cheap vacations that are worth taking would be hard. But it’s not impossible! So here it is, the first post of our travel budget series – six ways to cut costs while traveling.
Call before Booking
So, you’re on Groupon, and you just found an amazing deal for a Caribbean cruise to Jamaica. Forty percent off at only $229/person! You get super excited and are about to purchase tickets to the cruise, when your boyfriend yells from the other room that he found the same cruise for $102/person. Huh? The thing you’ve got to realize is:
1.) Groupon is great, but doesn’t always have the best last minute travel deals you’re looking for.
2.) In today’s competitive market, companies are always competing with each other on who can offer the cheapest vacation price.
So play the game of “How low can you go?” for a couple days. If you end up finding an amazing too-good-to-be-true weekend getaway deal, just call the provider to make sure it’s a legit deal. Even if they try to play hardball, you still might be able to bargain your way to the discounted price. After all, the last thing the company wants is a bad review from you.
Try a Business Hotel
Something that most people don’t realize is that no hotel is priced equally. I’m not referring to the star rankings – obviously the higher the star, the pricier it’s going to be. But beyond that is another important factor hotels consider when developing the pricing strategy: if your travel is for business or leisure. That’s why business hotels hike up their prices during the week, while vacation resorts increase their prices on weekends. To outsmart this strategy to fit your travel budget, book your stay at hotels that cater to business travelers. These hotels are starving for business during the weekends, so you can likely strike a deal here.
Consider Housesitting & Volunteering
If you want to avoid paying for a hotel at all costs, check out housesitting. This is a fairly new concept, but something you’d be glad to know about if you’re a frequent traveler. Basically, the idea is that you take care of someone’s house (and pet if they have one) while they’re away – whether they’re going away for the weekend or are just going off to run errands for a couple hours. In return, you get to stay in their house and enjoy food and amenities for free! There are a couple sites out there where you can find people to do this with, including trustedhousesitters.com, or housesittersamerica.com, among others! A similar concept is the idea of doing volunteer work in exchange for a place to stay. Workaway.info is a cool website where you can register to be a volunteer and then filter by the type of work you want to do in the place you want to visit.
Go to Cheaper Destinations
This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Popular destinations will almost always be pricier than less popular destinations. If your next vacation idea is to travel to a nation in the European Union, you’re definitely going to be splurging somewhere. With the exchange rate not really working in your favor, along with the popularity and wealth of a lot of these nations, you will inevitably be spending a lot of money. But if you change your focus and go somewhere unique with a more favorable exchange rate, you can save a lot of money and still have a great time. Lots of these places can be found in Southeast Asia or South America, such as Cambodia or Peru respectively, where you can get rooms for less than $25/night, and food that doesn’t cost more than $7/meal. Enjoy the beautiful architecture and rich cultures of these places for a great price!
A lot of times, you still can save money when you visit popular, high-demand destinations. The key is simply going there when most people don’t. This might seem to be a bit paradoxical to you – “well why would I travel to a country when no one else is there?” There must be a reason for traveling during the offseason when the weather isn’t the best, right? There is! If less-than-ideal weather doesn’t bother you and like the idea of avoiding the high tourist points of the year, you can save a lot of money on your trip.
Take a Road Trip
One of the best ways to travel to your heart’s content is to just take a road trip! The only real thing you need to splurge on is gas, a place to take a shower (unless you can find a communal shower somewhere), and food. But other than that, by simply driving through the country, you get to stop at various fun destinations along the way and experience more fun activities than you originally planned. A very cool app you can download is Roadtrippers, where you are given tons of attractions right next to your destined location. That way, you can make a spontaneous, unplanned vacation actually worthwhile. And if you have a European vacation on your radar, just know that a lot of the continent can be traveled by bus.
Hopefully this blog has helped you gather some useful tips on how to save money on your next trip! Next week, we’ll be delving a little further into budget traveling and how to actually build a travel budget, step-by-step. Until then, keep thinking about your next vacation getaway, and get insured before you finalize your travel plans. Until next time!