How to Travel on a Budget
Traveling can be pricey. Everyone knows that, and many are unfortunate enough to have experienced the massive debt vacations are notorious for accumulating. If you decide to take a vacation, you may simply resign yourself to having an empty wallet by the end of it. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you make informed financial decisions. So before you bleed yourself dry on your next trip, take a moment to ask yourself where you can be saving those precious dollars. You might just find that with a little extra effort, saving money on traveling is easier than you ever thought it could be.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in the span between 2010 and 2011, the average domestic fare in the United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico) increased by 8.4 percent. Airlines are incredibly fickle in this day and age. They can sometimes change the cost of tickets several times a day, all in the name of maximizing profits.
To save money on airfare, it’s vital to carefully peruse all your carrier and flight options. Many airlines offer the exact same or similar flights, but some carriers can price them hundreds of dollars cheaper than competitors. Use sights such as Travelocity.com and Kayak.com to easily find fares across numerous airlines. Travel websites may not present information from every single airline available, however, so it can also be good to go in and check various airline websites manually.
It may also be thriftier to split your travel between flight and another mode of transportation. If you fly 80% of the way to your destination and then take a car for the final 20%, you might end up saving a lot.
Almost every U.S. carrier charges for luggage, which is added to the price of an already expensive plane ticket. Just one bag can cost you an extra $50 on a round-trip flight. If possible, consider traveling with only a carry-on. No luggage equals no luggage-fee, after all.
One of the easiest ways to save money on flights is to sign up on an airline’s website to receive promotions and deals. You can also use third-party websites to keep up with sales, which will search airline data and let you know when fares are discounted.
At first, cruises can seem expensive, but if you play your cards right, they can be pretty affordable. The first thing you want to do to save money on cruises is book your cruise during “wave season”. This lasts from January to March. It’s the time of year when the cruise lines offer the most sales, discounts, and promotions. Secondly, consider going on an all-inclusive cruise, such as celebrity all inclusive cruises. Regular cruising can really rack up the bucks: sodas, alcohol, certain events, and shore excursions are all tacked on to the initial price of your ticket. As such, normal cruising is only thrifty if you are someone with willpower to stick with what’s free. An all-inclusive cruise will give you access to everything on the ship up front, meaning you don’t have to worry about variable expenses on your relaxing vacation. To really save money, you can book with one of the cruise line’s agents. Agents can offer you discounts only available to those in the know. As a final note, travel agents and travel agencies with preferred status may be able to save you up 20% on your cruise.
Be Prepared For Emergencies
If you travel abroad, it is imperative that you have health insurance that provides coverage overseas. The cost of insurance is nothing compared to the debt you’ll accumulate if you have to fly back home or visit a foreign hospital. Before you visit another country, take time to shop around for an insurance policy that suits your personal medical needs. If you already have health insurance, you may be able to buy a short-term supplemental policy. Be aware that in general, Medicare and Medicaid do not cover medical costs overseas.
Start a Travel Fund
Starting a travel fund is possibly the most important step to saving money on travel. Over time, a little saved up here and there can amount to a lot, so when you start a travel fund, you should focus more on steady effort than large amounts. In order to keep yourself committed to a travel fund, you can open up a savings account that is separate from your other checking accounts. You won’t be as tempted to spend what you can’t see. And to make sure your travel fund is being steadily filled and not neglected, you can schedule automatic transfers to your savings account at regular intervals. It’s much easier than using your own willpower to transfer the funds manually. As time passes, you may even forget that you have a travel fund, so when remember to check on it, it may seem to have grown as if by magic! To further ensure that your travel fund is growing, consider giving up things you don’t need. Spend less on clothes, turn down the heat on the thermostat, eat out less often, join a carpool, etc. If you truly dedicate yourself to a travel fund, your next vacation trip will be free of monetary concern, and you’ll be enjoy a relaxing trip.
Do Your Research
There are huge variety of creative ideas for saving money and traveling on a budget. Read up and get informed on all the ways you could be saving big so your next vacation can be even more enjoyable. Happy saving!