Planning a trip can be daunting. There’s a million sights and activities you want to try, but you’re also looking to travel for cheap. Your bank account never seems big enough, but take a deep breath. While my travel budgeting course walks you step by step through planning your trip and maximizing your budget, here are a few ways to cut costs.
Do your homework
Sometimes it might be worth it to pay extra for convenience, but after making a list of activities you’d like to do, research them well in advance. For example, I’m headed to France on a tour with my family soon, and the itinerary offered an optional excursion for a river boat cruise. The price looked awful high to me, and a quick Google search showed me virtually the same boat tour for a fraction of the price. Especially with tour groups, which aren’t bad things at all, be sure to question the prices and do your own research.
Some cities also offer CityPasses, which give you access to multiple activities in a city for one price. I have yet to try them, but after living in Dallas for a summer, I wish I would’ve purchased one as it would’ve saved me money in the long run. Every destination is different, but doing your homework before (with lots of browsers open and price comparisons) can reduce that bottom line.
Beware travel fees
My number one piece of travel budget advice is to get a travel rewards credit card, whether it’s an airline, hotel or other type of card. I have Bank of America’s Travel Reward card and really like the flexibility it offers; it’s not limited to just one hotel chain or airline. The reason I applied for this credit card was because after chatting with a bank employee, I learned there would be ample fees if I only used my debit card. This ties into doing your homework beforehand, but definitely beware those travel fees — be it card, baggage, airline, hotel or late fees.
Take advantage of free breakfast
I’m all about that brunch life, so I feel you. But if breakfast is included in your lodging, grab it! Not eating out breakfast during your vacation can save you hundreds of dollars. Load up on the free breakfast and grab a piece of fruit or cereal to eat as a snack later. If you’re really looking to budget, eat a late breakfast and then only buy one meal out that day.
Cut back on taxis or Ubers
Ride-sharing apps and taxis add up big time. Instead, save money on your vacation by taking public transportation or walking. Even better than saving money, you get a better feel for the destination by living like a local and soaking up the street views. On my trip to Paris this past January, we only took public transportation, and albeit stressful at times, riding the metro is part of the experience.
Make your meal
Maybe you’ve perfected your budget to a tee before departure, but when you get there, things don’t go as planned. An unexpected baggage fee. A surprise “convenience” fee. A dinner bill you weren’t planning on. Life happens, it’s okay. If you’re on vacation and your wallet is feeling tight, consider a grocery store meal or two. (Or maybe you’d rather not eat out for a change.) Even if your lodging doesn’t have any appliances, you can pick up a sandwich, chips and fruit at the local grocery store. Not only do you get a more authentic experience, but you also save a pretty penny.
Budgeting for a trip can be stressful, and that’s exactly why I crafted The Ultimate Guide to Travel Budgeting and Saving online course. In an hour or less, you’ll learn 20+ ways to earn extra money, simple saving tricks, how to plan based on your travel values and a free cheat sheet.
These five easy tips will help you cut that bottom line on your next vacation and help you travel cheap. Share your best budgeting advice in the comments.