Many Americans and many retirees often forego a vacation and for most people, it comes down to budgeting or feeling like you can never quite afford the vacation. It's my opinion that a trip away should be fun and rejuvenating, it should in no way, shape, or form, cause financial stress. Just because your friends post beautiful photos of their vacation on social media doesn’t mean that it was actually so glamorous or that they paid huge sums to travel. If you're looking to book travel plans without breaking the bank, follow these five tips.
Tip #1: Travel in the Off-Season
It is 100% possible to snag MAJOR deals on vacation destinations. The key is to find the off-season for where you want to go. For instance, every winter people want to escape the cold and hit the beach. If you're looking to travel somewhere chilly, you can probably do it for much less during the winter months. Nearly every travel destination has an "off-season."
But, don't just head blindly to any one place. You'll want to understand the important details like the weather. It is completely possible that a travel destination could have something like hurricane season or maybe your ski trip would end up being more of a hiking trip if it's the northeast in July. Are the attractions still open? or does it turn into a ghost town? These are all things you will want to consider before making any decisions.
Tip #2: Skip the Hotel
The lure of the all-inclusive resort, and although they can be great, it may not be worth the extra money to stay at one. If you're looking to travel on a budget, consider booking a place through marketplaces like Airbnb, VRBO and other similar search sites. They offer great variety and customization of rooms, from a single bedroom rental to entire homes and villas. This can be a way to book exactly what you want all with your "price watcher" hat on, especially if you're sharing the cost with multiple people.
Tip #3: Make Your Own Meals
If you’re renting an apartment or house, you will most likely have access to a full kitchen. That makes cooking at home all the easier. This can help you save money throughout your trip. With today's technology, you may be able to have groceries delivered to your rental home upon your arrival (I always do this). Or, you may find yourself near a local food market with fresh food for a reasonable price. Cooking for yourself is almost always more cost-effective than eating out, especially when on vacation.
Tip #4: Shop Around for Flights
In today's world, we get to compare hundreds if not thousands of flights all at once, let's take advantage of it! Rather than heading directly to each airline's website and doing your search, use flight comparison sites. These sites compile all of the available options so you can compare things like flight times, legs of the trip, and cost all in one place. Always shop around and compare quotes, keeping in mind that Tuesday is generally the best day to book airline travel.
You might also score a better deal if you wait until closer to your trip rather than booking many months in advance. The flip side of this is, that you run the risk of encountering a full flight. Many travel experts agree you should book 25 days in advance, but not further out than 150 days to score the best deals.
Tip #5: Setup Alerts to Get the Best Travel Deals
When shopping around for flights, hotels and other packages, most travel sites will allow you to set up "travel alerts." Simply search the flight you are looking for (New York to Los Angeles for instance) and pick your dates. Then ask to be "alerted" when the price drops. Airfarewatchdog, Google Flights, Orbitz, Travelocity, and most other major travel search engines all have this feature, making it much easier to score the best deal with little-to-no effort on your part.
If you really want to treat yourself to a vacation this year, you can make it happen without blowing your budget. All you need is some patience, flexibility, and an open mind.
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