You work hard and you deserve a break. Summering in the south of France may not be in the cards, but there's a whole world out there with so much vacation fun to offer. Whether you prefer relaxing on a beach or holing up in a remote cabin, planning a little escape doesn't have to be a financial burden. Here are some things to keep in mind so money doesn't get in the way of getting away.
Where to Go
Wherever you're looking to visit, you can usually do it much cheaper if you go during their off-peak season. For European travel, that's from October to April.
If you're looking to travel out of the country, consider destinations where the dollar is worth more. Airfare to places like Thailand, India, and Latin America may not be cheap, but almost everything else is once you arrive.
The idea of a staycation isn't anything new, but when was the last time you really spent time discovering new places in your hometown? Stepping outside of your routine without actually traveling anywhere can feel just as much like a vacation if you do it right.
Visiting national or state parks is an economical way to take in the natural beauty of the country.
Plan your trip to an area adjacent to your actual destination and use public transportation to get around.
When to Go/When to Book
According to data compiled by CheapAir.com, the best time to buy your flight is around 70 days ahead of time. You might want to do up to 90 days for spring travel.
For winter travel, it’s best to avoid prime travel dates around the holidays. Prices drop right after the busy times.
Spring break in March and April drives up flight costs.
July is the most popular summer month to travel. August and September are more affordable options.
As a general rule, you will find cheaper deals if you travel while school is in session for kids.
Fall is the most affordable season to travel as long as you avoid Thanksgiving.
Research has shown that airfare is cheapest when you buy on a Tuesday afternoon and select flights that leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Book flights that leave late at night or early in the morning.
If you're not pressed for time, adding a layover in your travel plan can lower the price.
Where to Stay
If you're traveling by yourself, hostels are your best bet. Not only are they reasonably priced for lodging, some also provide meals and arrange activities for their guests.
Opting for a rental property instead of a hotel can sometimes be the more affordable way to go. One key reason is having the ability to negotiate with the owner over the price or duration of your stay.
There are so many price comparison websites out there that promise to find you the best deal. Use those sites to get an idea of what's available and then contact the hotel directly to see if they could do any better for you.
How to Pack
First and foremost, keep it as light as possible. If you can squeeze everything into a carry on, do it. With that said, if you're just bringing a carry on, make sure the bag adheres to the airline regulations or else you'll get stuck paying to check it.
Nobody wants to do chores on vacation, but packing fewer clothes and doing laundry in your airbnb or near your hotel can help you cut cost a bit so you won't have to check your luggage.
Don't take anything your housing already provides.
There will undoubtedly be a ton of picture-taking on this trip. If your phone is your primary camera, it's worth investing in a drive to store your pictures on so you don't run out of space on your phone while trying to document a big moment on the trip.
Clear your browsing history (or use a different computer) to book your travel. It's no coincidence that flights/hotels seem to get more expensive every time you look. Your activity is being monitored so all of that research you've been doing might actually be jacking up the price.
Switch to a credit card that earns you travel miles.
If cruises are your thing, you could save a bundle of cash by booking port excursions through third party websites instead of directly with the cruise company.
Avoid dining at restaurants in the touristy areas. Seeking out dining options away from the main strip will be cheaper and provide a more authentic experience.
Hit up a market. Indulging in the local cuisine is a huge part of any vacation, but you can cut some corners by limiting yourself to one restaurant meal a day. Picking up some groceries and making a picnic is also a great way to explore your surroundings.
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