So, you want to go on vacation but your wallet thinks otherwise. You cut out Starbucks, began packing lunch, picked up a couple of extra shifts, but your dream getaway still seems so far out of reach. Don’t you wish there was a way to travel without breaking the bank? Well, lucky for you, the experts from Chloe Johnston Experiences, a Philadelphia based luxury travel company, have a plan! With all the planning and anticipation, traveling is an investment of emotions as much as money. That’s why we put together a guide on our favorite travel tips and tricks to vacation booking on a budget that will leave you, and your wallet, happy.
Choose destinations with favorable exchange rates
So you want to travel abroad, but that piggy bank doesn’t look as full as you remember. If you’re on a tight budget but craving a retreat, don’t worry! Chloe Johnston Experiences has a few some foolproof ways to save dollars, euros, and yes, even yen on your next international getaway. Our first tip is to opt for destinations with favorable exchange rates- that is, where local currencies are weak relative to the dollar. Not only will you get more bang for your buck, but you’ll also save money on everything from food to souvenirs. Yup, you heard right. You’ll be returning home with keychains for even the most distant relatives.
Sign up for a flight newsletter
To all the indecisive number crunchers out there, this tip is for you. If you can’t decide on a destination, let a cheap flight newsletter do it for you! Flight newsletters will provide you with heavily discounted flight deals to various destinations around the world. Newsletters indicate everything from flight comparisons, the deal’s expected lifespan, and the travel date range during which the deal is valid. What better way to let your spontaneous side run free than a spur of the moment international getaway?
Set price alerts
We’ve all seen the whimsical commercials for the various travel booking websites such as Expedia, Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Hotels.com. But the question is, do they work? Chloe says, “One effective way to keep your wallet happy is to set price alerts for every completed hotel or flight search.” These sites will notify you every time a hotel or flight rate drops, and will be sure to leave your inbox full of competitive deals. Disclosure: prepare yourself for email overload and maybe switch your phone onto silent.
Research in incognito or privacy mode
Have you ever clicked out of a travel site only to be greeted by a flight advertisement a couple of minutes later? Creepy, right? When searching for flight and hotel deals, try surfing the web in incognito or privacy mode. This essentially means that your browser will not collect pesky cookies, the bits of data that allow travel sites to track your movements around the web. If they don’t know what you’re searching for, they can’t raise prices according to your hotel, travel dates, or flights. Yes, that’s a thing! It’s time to out-shade the shady travel sites and go incognito.
Be flexible when flying
Perhaps one of the best ways to save money on a trip is to sit back, relax, and go with the (cheap flight) flow. If your travel dates are flexible and you have some wiggle room at work, schedule your flight to depart and return midweek. We know, flying on a Tuesday may seem a bit weird, but almost all fares rise toward the end of the week and spike again on Sunday. You’ll find that the cheapest time of the week to travel is on Tuesdays and Wednesdays no matter the airline. If you’re not in a rush to arrive at your destination, you’ll be sure to save a good chunk of money by taking a connecting flight. It may not be ideal, but it will give you some extra cash to spend on other areas of your vacation. Not to mention, you get to say you stopped in two destinations, right?
Round trip only
Have you ever purchased a one-way ticket somewhere only to find the rates skyrocketed on the way home? Yup, us too. Sometimes one way tickets are so expensive that purchasing a round-trip ticket is a better deal. Not to mention, it’s a one and done deal and you’re guaranteed a spot on the flight home. No matter how much you want to stay in your destination, the appeal will be sure to wear off when you’re stranded an ocean away from home. Another flying hack is to depart from and return to the same airport. Most travelers don’t know that this option is almost always cheaper than flying back into a different airport! It will save you time, money, and a whole lot of hassle.
Travel during the off season
This tip is highly recommended by the experts from Chloe Johnston Experiences. Break free from the tourist mayhem and plan your trip during the offseason. Not only will you find cheaper plane tickets and hotel rates, but you’ll also avoid large crowds almost anywhere you go. We all know the struggle of waiting in never-ending lines under the blaring sun to see an attraction, but why do it if you don’t have to? Depending on your destination, traveling during the offseason could be the difference between an affordable getaway or a shoulder-to-shoulder disaster. Oh, just don’t forget to check if your must see attraction is open during the off season!
To all you over-packers, it’s time to learn how to travel light. Skip the heavy suitcase and instead opt for a functional carry on bag for your next trip. Traveling with just a carry on, are you crazy? Before you begin researching how to air compress your shoes, hear us out. Traveling with a carry on is ideal if you’re on a tight budget. It allows you to save money on checking a bag. Airlines will charge you for nearly everything these days, but there are some loopholes to save some dollars if you’re willing to sacrifice. If you just can’t bear the thought of traveling with only a carry on, try to keep it to one bag per person. Just remember, if you had to sit on your suitcase to zip it shut, it might not pass the weight limit!
Opt for hotels with free continental breakfast
Okay, you had us at free breakfast. Rather than starting every day off with a pricey restaurant bill, limit your hotel search to hospitality chains that offer free continental breakfast. You’d be surprised at all the hotels that offer free breakfast buffets with all the eggs, bacons, and pastries you can slip into your purse. Kidding, of course! By choosing a hotel with a free breakfast option, you’ll be able to save a pretty penny every morning and spend that money where it really matters, on dinner! But don’t book a room just yet. You forgot to ask about the bottomless mimosa and Bloody Mary specials!
Take advantage of your credit card’s point transfer
You may have been cringing and closing your eyes in the moment, but all those times you guiltily swiped your credit card has finally paid off! Some credit cards offer a 1-to-1 partner point transfer system that you probably didn’t even know about. Yes, so that means every time you punched your credit card number in when online shopping, you were racking up the points! Compare advertised rooms and airfare rates with the number of points needed to redeem and then transfer accordingly. Depending on your number of points, you’re in for some big savings. So to all the husbands, moms, and friends that ever lectured you on your spending habits, you showed them.
Join travel loyalty programs
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or just an avid travel channel viewer, it never hurts to join specific travel merchants’ travel loyalty programs. The best part is, it’s almost always free! Loyalty programs offer anything from reduced-rate airfare, car rentals, and hotel discounts to upgrades and perks. By earning and redeeming points, you’ll be sure to save big on your next getaway all for just signing up. Instead of lounging on your couch and living vicariously through the travel channel, join a loyalty program! You’ll be one step closer to making the trip of your dreams a reality. Not to mention, you’ll be accumulating points in the meantime.
Purchase travel insurance
What happens if you get sick? Or even worse, the airport loses your luggage! These are just a few scenarios that may cause a bump in the road during your travel experience. If you’ve purchased travel insurance, go ahead and take a big sigh of relief because you’re most likely covered. Purchasing travel insurance essentially guarantees that you’re taken care of if any possible travel risks occur unexpectedly. Things can go wrong while traveling, and insurance guarantees that you and your belongings are covered against trip cancellation, interruptions, or medical emergencies. Most premium travel credit cards have built-in insurance protections, though you should read the fine print before relying on it to protect your many pairs of shoes. If you don’t have a premium credit card, no worries! Travel insurance policies can be purchased from any reputable issuer, typically costing 5% to 10% of the total value of nonrefundable insured expenses. Yes, it may seem like an added cost, but it will be sure to lessen the fiscal blow when mayhem occurs on your getaway.
Exchange your money BEFORE you get to the airport
If you’re embarking on an international getaway, you’re going to need to exchange your dollars for the currency of your destination. That being said, there are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when exchanging money. Although the most common way to exchange currency is at the airport, you could be getting ripped off and not even know it. Did you know airport ATMs and kiosks charge premium rates when exchanging money that actually cause you to spend more? The most effective way to exchange money is to order foreign currency from your bank prior to your trip and avoid the scams. This way, you’ll arrive at your destination euros, chen, and pesos in hand, ready to spend money on what really matters, like food.
Hostel over hotel room
If you’re an adventure seeker who doesn’t require much personal space, a hostel might be the place for you. Yes, luxury hotels are nice, but what better way to get the ultimate cultural experience than to stay in a multi-person hostel? Not only will you save a ton on your lodging arrangements, but you’ll also have the opportunity to meet like-minded people exploring your destination. For even more savings, look for hostels that offer additional value-adds such as free or cheap meals, tours, and group excursions. If you’re a traveler on a budget seeking a taste of culture and authenticity, opt for a hostel and you’ll be sure to have a unique experience unmatched by a generic hotel. On the other hand, if you require luxury amenities and a personal bathroom like the rest of us, a hotel might be more up your alley.
Get a place with a kitchen
It’s time to take a trip to the local market and channel your inner Betty Crocker. You might be thinking, cooking? On vacation? You’ve officially lost your mind. But you’ll be surprised at how much money you save by limiting eating out. Whether you’re staying in a hotel, hostel, or even an ai, check with the host ahead of time and confirm that you will have access to a kitchen. If you just can’t bear the thought of cooking on your vacation, try booking a room equipped with a refrigerator or microwave. That way you can whip up a quick and easy lunch or breakfast in your room and then splurge on an authentic dinner. Not to mention, you’re going to want to reheat those leftovers for breakfast, right?
Bring a reusable water bottle
Believe it or not, some of the same rules apply to vacations as they do at home. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times but let us refresh your memory. Want to save money? Bring along a reusable water bottle and avoid bottled water whenever possible. We know, it sounds simple but it may be challenging depending on your destination. That being said, if you’re traveling to a country in the developing world where municipal water systems aren’t common, opt for a water bottle with a filtration system. By sipping on a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing a plastic one at every tourist attraction you visit, you’ll be saving money, not to mention the environment.
Get around on a bike
If you’re anything like the experts at Chloe Johnston Experiences, you dedicate a good portion of your paycheck to Uber. Yes, Ubers and taxis seem like a good idea, but you’ll be thinking otherwise when you have to brace yourself when reading your bank statement. If you’re on vacation and looking to keep your wallet happy, try renting a bike for the week instead of ordering that cab. Biking around your destination will not only save money, but you’ll also be able to tour the city on your own terms, not to mention avoid pesky traffic. Oh, and most importantly you’ll be sure to burn off the calories from all the food you indulged on throughout your trip.
Eat more lunch than dinners
If brunch is your favorite meal of the day, you’re in luck. We know, you’re in it for the bottomless drinks and endless pancakes, but we’re talking about the lunch specials. Eating out during lunchtime rather than in the evening is a fool proof way to lower your bill. Opting for a big lunch during your trip will be sure to satisfy even the biggest foodie! It more importantly keeps the number cruncher happy though. If you’re more into wining and dining, call ahead and ask if there are dinner specials that week. Even eating at a BYOB will be sure to keep the check in check (pun intended). Don’t be afraid to be that person to ask for the specials as soon as you sit down. Your wallet, and your taste buds, will thank you.
Look for free activities
If you’re planning a getaway, you’re probably a bit surprised at the cost of popular tourist attractions or tours. Before you spend all your money on activities, it’s time to do some research. If you check the community calendar, you’ll find that most destinations offer free activities year-round. Whether you’re looking to lounge on the beach, hike a famous mountain, or channel your inner history buff in a museum, check to see if they provide discounted admission at any time during the week. Another option is to purchase a city tourism card. With this card, you gain free entry to top visitor attractions, restaurant discounts, and free public transportation. Depending on your jam-packed itinerary, it might be worth the money.
You knew it was coming, so we saved the best tip for vacation booking on a budget for last. The dreaded “cut back” tip. As much as you don’t want to hear it, cutting back on daily expenses can pay for your full vacation. Don’t believe me? By just cutting back on your $5 Starbucks intake every day, you could save up to $150 per month, which comes to $1,800 per year! Now imagine cutting back on coffee, takeout, online shopping, drinking, and unnecessary spending. You do the math! Cutting back on small unnecessary expenses could be the difference between another trip to the Jersey Shore, or an unforgettable retreat to Bali. Swapping Starbucks with home brew doesn’t seem like much to ask for the tropical getaway of a lifetime. Don’t worry, when you return home Starbucks will be waiting for you.