Who doesn't love to travel? Even if it's for one overnight stay, a quick vacation is good for the soul. There's a common misconception about the cost of travel and that vacationing is only for the wealthy, but you can have a good time for less! Here are a few tips and tricks to help you plan a smashing vacation on a budget!
1. Airfare/Transportation - A novice jetsetter might think to quickly just check out sites like Travelocity or Expedia, but you can find better deals on airfare through sites like Cheaptickets.com or CheapOAir.com. These sites are known for searching through thousands of flights to find you the best deals possible. You can also search for promo codes or sign up for their newsletter and be given an coupon for an additional dollar amount off of your airfare!
Have credit cards? Rack up the points and cash in on those miles! Many cards offer skymile rewards as part of their benefit packages. American Express provides miles through Delta Airlines, so for example, the miles you earn can be redeemed only through Delta. If you prefer other airlines, check out other cards that have a simple dollar-for-mile reward or something similar. I personally prefer the Chase Ink Plus card (not an ad!) as the miles rack up fairly quickly and I can use them on a variety of airlines!
2. Lodging - Why not skip the hotel and opt for renting a home instead? Sites like AirBNB, VRBO, and Home Away have a variety of homes listed that can be customized to your needs. Whether you're searching for a room or a whole home to rent (think group vacation!), you'll save money and have more legroom in the longrun. The rentals are monitored closely by the website management and you can book just like you would a normal hotel.
For example, the home above is running a promotion for $195 per night (regularly $250) and it comes with 4 bedrooms, a pool, a full kitchen, and is too pretty to pass up! One room at The Parker Hotel runs anywhere from $200 - $900 PER NIGHT!
3. Food - Who eats?! I kid, I kid. Depending on the length of your stay, take a trip to the local grocery store and stock up on items like fruits, cereals, toast, and milk. Get items that will help you snack instead of throwing money down the drain and eating out every meal of the day. When you ARE ready to eat out, search sites like Groupon.com for deals on local restaurants! Groupon even has a "now" feature to help you find locations that are running last-minute specials. You'll save money, and possibly be introduced to a restaurant you might not have known about!
4. Entertainment - Speaking of sites like Groupon.com - that and others like Living Social can help you get the most of whatever city you're in. Discounts on museums, sporting events, and city tours are abundant! There are usually a few kid-friendly options, so don't fret if you're traveling with the littles! If there's something you're dying to try in a city you're about to visit, do a little search on one of the sites listed above to see if anything fun piques your interest!
5. Shopping - Venture away from the typical tourist spots like farmer's markets and swap meets. While those are excellent spots to get small gifts for family and friends, if you're wanting to bring home a one-of-a-kind piece to remember your journey, broaden your horizons! Design icon Nate Berkus shares his tips with Elle on shopping while traveling internationally and the what to think about when you come across something you just have to have!
Don't be afraid to bargain. While some sellers hate hagglers, they typically mark up their prices so they have a little bit "of give" when it comes time to lower the price. Be confident and speak up when asking the price. If it's too high, don't be afraid to state your highest price and see what happens. More often than not, the seller will work with you!
Save space! It's a real bummer when you find something you love, only to realize you don't have enough room in your luggage to take it back with you. Shipping internationally is expensive, so I usually bring an extra suitcase or carryon specifically for purchases made on my trips! If I'm concerned with their fragility, I can pack them myself and carry on to the plane and find comfort knowing that the item(s) will not be lost or broken over the course of the flight.
~ While it does take some extra footwork on your end, you can plan the vacation of your dreams on a budget. And if you want to find something fun, but can't handle the stress of searching for the cheapest flight and/or hotel, I can't say enough good things about Travel Zoo! We've booked many-an-international-trip through that site and have been able to bundle airfare, hotel, local transportation, and an excursion in one package! It's the ultimate! Safe travels!