One phase I've heard way too many times is"traveling is expensive". I won't lie, travel CAN be expensive but it does not have to be. Traveling is an experience, therefore if you are aware of your cost you can plan and adjust them to fit your budget. One of the things we did not let go of on our debt journey was travel. It is our sense of accomplishment and one of our main things we love to do as a family. However, we paid more attention to how we spent on these trips and became frugally aware. I've put together a small list of hacks we have utilized in order but maintain our wallets and enjoy our time together.
1. Create a Budget
Plan your budget prior to your trip and then work backwards. If you know you are only wanting to spend $2000 on a trip then do not allow yourself to start planning a trip that requires $1500 worth of flights. Your budget helps you understand how much money needs to be saved before you travel. If you know your traveling style, you can even plan a daily spending budget in order to help you maintain. Try to estimate accommodations, transportation and food.
2. Search Flights
Knowing how to research flights is a significant part of traveling on a budget. There is no master secret to scoring a great the flight, but monitoring flights frequently can certainly help. You will notice it is usually always cheaper to fly during the middle of the week. Or instead of flighting directly into a more expensive airport, book a flight to a smaller closer airport with a connecting flight. Some of the ones I check out first are:
3. Plan Ahead
Plan ahead especially for travel outside the U.S., by doing this you become knowledgable on the best times/season to travel and therefore, can avoid peak season if possible. It is best to be flexible on the date and destinations. Both Google Flights and Skyscanner, give you the option to search "from" destination to Everywhere, this will give you an idea of the best places to fly during a specific time period.
4. Take public transportation
Using public transportation while traveling always serves as an additional adventure and experience. However, most of the time it is also cost efficient to get from point A to B. If you are traveling to a city with multiple public transportation systems such as New York, Chicago or Bangkok, give it a shot. It beats paying for parking, tolls or meters at every destination. Also, I've often met locals whom suggest places to visit off the beaten tracks.
5. Take advantage of free activities
Be sure to always check out free activities that will be happening during your stay. Often times, cities have free nights at the museums or discounted activities after a certain time. In addition, many cities have festivals or markets that are free to hang out and explore as well. Or even free walking tours. Just search free events in the city and have a little fun exploring!
6. Deals on Accommodations
When searching for accommodations, it may not be about finding the cheapest versus finding the greatest value. There are plenty practical tips and resources to think of when deciding where you'd like to lay your head. Look into options that are close to the center attractions, but also have amenities that can save you money such as free wifi, airport shuttles, breakfast, refrigerators etc. Additionally, do not always assume a hotel is the best option. Depending on your destination, home rentals such as airbnb are great for saving money and having the comforts of home at your finger tips. Some sites that I frequently use are:
www.airbnb.com (great option especially for families)
Additionally, I always check the reviews and see what other people are saying on such sites as www.tripadvisor.com
All and all...traveling on a budget is possible! If you take your time and research prior to your departure, not only will you be able to stay within your budget but you will be able to enjoy an experience without the stresses of money!
Remember: Travel is an investment into your experiences!