5 Ways to Plan a Trip on a Budget

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Going on vacation can seem like an unaffordable luxury, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you plan well in advance, research your options and cooperate with your budget, you can take a trip that won’t break the bank. So how do you get away from it all on a shoestring? Follow these tips for planning a great trip at a cheap price. Whether you’re taking a short road trip or planning an extended vacation, there are many ways to save money on travel before leaving home. From watching for deals and specials to making use of what’s available to you through membership programs or websites, there are plenty of things you can do to save money before even buying tickets or booking lodging.

Research your destination

The first step in planning a cheap vacation is to research your destination. Depending on where you go, the climate, cultural events, and other factors will influence your expenses, but you need to have an idea of what you’ll be spending before you go. For example, if you plan to visit a city in the U.S., you can use the cost of living calculator on Numbeo to get a sense of the typical cost of things like groceries, eating out, and transportation. Follow similar tips for planning a trip abroad to research your destination’s typical prices. With these numbers in mind, you can plan your trip around what you can afford. If you’re visiting a city, visiting free attractions (like museums) and keeping an eye out for deals on transportation can help keep your costs low. If you’re visiting a more remote location, you may need to factor in the cost of transportation or arrange for your own travel to get there.

Go during the off-season

Many destinations have high and low seasons for tourism, which can affect the cost of everything from airfare to hotel rooms. If you can, try to avoid these busy periods to get better deals. For example, if you plan to visit New York City in the fall, you can expect higher prices during the holiday season. Or if you want to go to the beach in the winter, you can expect cheaper rates at hotels and flights thanks to the off-season weather. Similarly, if you’re visiting a theme park, avoid the high-traffic times of the year to get better admission prices. If you have kids, note that schools have breaks at certain times of the year, which can make places even more crowded. You can also use a site like TourismBuddy to see what the typical rates are for your destination and at different times of the year.

Join travel clubs and reap the benefits

If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to join a travel club or frequent flyer program for the rewards you can use on future trips. Depending on the program, you can earn points for booking travel, redeeming points for flights or hotel stays, and other benefits such as waived baggage fees or priority boarding. For example, if you’re a member of the airline Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program, you can use points to book flights or hotels and get other benefits like waived change fees. If you’re a member of the hotel chain Marriott, you can use points to get free stays and other benefits like free breakfast. These programs often have specials where you can earn even more points or other benefits, so keep an eye out for these. You may also be able to use travel credit cards that offer rewards, like travel points, free flights, or other benefits that can help you save money on future trips.

Bundle your trip with other services

If you need to find a way to save on a trip that’s already been planned, you may be able to bundle your trip with other services or purchases to save money. For example, if you need to rent a car while you’re away, try getting your car rental through the hotel chain or airline you’re flying with to save on car rentals. Similarly, if you need to book a hotel, see if you can bundle your booking with your airfare. Many hotel chains and websites like Expedia and Travelocity allow you to do this, and you may be able to save money on both costs. If you’re visiting a major city, you may also be able to bundle your trip with a tour that you can book online from home.

Stay at a hotel with free amenities

If you’re traveling for an extended period, you may want to consider booking a hotel. Hotels are often cheaper than booking an Airbnb or other short-term stay, and they often come with other perks, like free breakfast, Wi-Fi, and shuttle services. When booking a hotel, look for one that offers free amenities like Wi-Fi or other features. You can also look for hotel chains that offer loyalty programs, giving you points that you can use on future stays. For example, Hilton’s rewards program allows you to redeem points for free hotel stays or other rewards like gift cards. If you’re traveling with a group, you may be able to get a discount on a hotel by booking through a third-party website like TravelZoo. You can also look for special deals on hotels that may help you save money.

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