Summer is just around the corner, are you excited for your vacation yet? Whether you’re traveling abroad or visiting one of your favorite cities here in the States, summer vacation can be expensive. So before you book your flight or start packing your bags, check out these money-saving vacation tips.
Create a Vacation Budget
Before you start planning your vacation, you should know how much you have to spend. Take a look at how much you’ve set aside for your trip, then set up a vacation budget outlining how you’ll use that money. Make sure your budget covers:
- Transportation: Flights, cab or bus fare, car rental fees, and gas
- Lodging: Hotels, AirBnb, VRBO, or hostels
- Food: Restaurants, grocery stores, and snacks
- Entertainment: Shows, museums, and other excursions
After creating a budget, it will be easier for you to decide where you can afford to go and how much you can spend when you’re there. If you’re looking to travel as cheaply as possible, here are some great travel budgeting tips you can use.
Checking bags at the airport can be expensive. Most airlines charge $25-$35 per bag, which could add up to $75 or more for a round trip flight—money that would be better spent elsewhere.
Before you leave for your flight, make sure you’re only bringing what you truly need. If you’re only going on vacation for a few days, avoid baggage fees by limiting yourself to a carry on and personal item.
Take Public Transit or Walk
Taking public transit only costs a few dollars, and compared to a cab, Lyft, or car rental, it a cheap way get around. Plus, it offers you a great way to experience life like a local and, depending on the route, could even provide a scenic tour of the area.
If you booked a hotel in the heart of the city, you may want to walk instead of opting for public transit. You can find great walking paths by doing a little online research. For example, if you’re headed to sunny San Diego this year, Circulate SD has some great walking maps to help you get around.
Watch What You Eat
Food can be a huge expense when you travel if you don’t plan ahead. To save money on food while traveling, follow these tips:
- Look at the time. Most restaurants’ lunch and dinner menus are similar, but the price point changes depending on the time of day. That’s why you should eat out at lunch instead of dinner.
- Eat like a local. Don’t be afraid of food trucks and carts when you’re in a new city. The food is usually delicious, and easy on your wallet, too.
- Go grocery shopping. If you booked a room with a kitchenette, use it. Buying groceries and having a few home-cooked meals could save you a ton.
Sites like Groupon, local newspapers, and travel guides could have some great deals on local attractions—so make sure you’re checking them during your trip. You can also find coupons and deals on tourism websites, like here on Visit Houston. It only takes a few minutes to do the research, but it could really pay off.
Look for Cheap or Free Local Events
Speaking of local attractions, did you know you could get into some of them completely free? National parks, historical sites, and museums all offer free days—and it’s super easy to find out when they are by doing a simple online search. Here’s a list of all the free days for Portland museums, for example.
Don’t Use an International Phone Plan
If you’re traveling to another country, you may be considering an international phone plan. But these plans could cost anywhere from $15-$100+ per month, plus roaming fees or additional charges to send text messages.
Unless you’re traveling for months on end, there’s little point to getting an international phone plan. Your smartphone can make calls, send texts, and do everything else using the internet. Portable wifi, like the one that Tep wireless offers, could be a better way to save money while still having access to your phone during your next vacation.
Use a Travel Credit Card
Want to avoid foreign transaction fees and get rewarded for spending during your vacation? You may want to consider getting a travel rewards card.
While there may be yearly fees associated with these cards, the points, and rewards that could offset these costs. Just make sure to stick to your budget, use these cards responsibly, and pay the balance in full each month so that you don’t get into debt.
If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to saving money while still having a great time on your next vacation!