A new year means another opportunity to travel and enjoy exploring new places. If you’re on a budget, traveling may seem out of the question this year.
However, there are plenty of ways to travel affordably and the key lies in your ability to plan ahead. When planning for budget travel this year, be sure to keep these key tips in mind.
Determine How Much You Have to Spend Early On
If you don’t want to overspend on travel it’s important to find out how much you can afford to spend ahead of time. It’s common to have a travel fund where you set aside money for trips each year.
If you plan on going this route, it’s best to commit to contribution a certain amount each month. For example, if you can save up to $150 each month for travel, that means you’ll have at least $1,800 to spend.
Sometimes you may find that you’re even able to spend more if you get bonuses, cut back, or earn and other extra income but even coming up with a rough estimate of your budget early on can be beneficial.
That way, you won’t be surprised by the expenses you incur.
Search for Domestic Flights
Travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as it seems. If you’re eager to get out and see other places, that doesn’t always have to translate to jetting off to Paris.
International trips are most expensive due to the cost of the flight. Thus, by booking domestic trips, you can save a ton even if you still need to fly.
Since I’m currently trying to prioritize debt payoff this year, I’m only taking domestic trips to maintain my budget. There are still so places in the country that I haven’t even seen and odds are, you might be able to say the same.
You can browse domestic flights for your budget travel easily via Google. Just go to Google.com/flights and you can compare prices for flights to some of the best cities. If you’re in the U.S., cities like New York City, Boston Chicago, Charlotte, Denver, Orlando, and Las Vegas can be pretty affordable depending on where you live.
While it cost me around $1,000 to fly to Ireland and back a few years ago, this year I have trips planned to Las Vegas, Austin, Wisconsin Dells, and Orlando. Round trip flights and transportation didn’t even reach a total of $1,000.Travel doesn't have to be expensive. I booked four domestic trips this year for less than $1,000! Click To Tweet
Check Your Credit Card Rewards
If you use rewards credit cards, you may have some points or cash back lying around that you could redeem for travel.
You don’t have to be a travel hacking expert to rack up rewards points. You can earn rewards by spending as you normally would and paying off your credit card bill in full each month.
Discover credit cards always offer cash back so you can use your credit card in the grocery store and when you get gas each week to earn points.
Some credit cards even offer travel perks to cardholders each year. For example, my husband and I both have the Chase IHG Rewards card which provides us with one free night in one of their partner hotels each year.
This year, we plan to combine each of our nights and put it toward a trip to Disney World.
Check your points or cash back balance for your rewards credit cards and be sure to include any rewards you’ve earned in your travel plans to supplement the costs.
Compare Lodging Options
Lodging is another big travel-related expense you’ll need to plan out according to your budget. When you’re on the go, you want to stay somewhere safe and nice but you probably won’t be there often which is why you should consider minimizing the costs.
If you don’t have a hotel rewards credit card, avoid staying in a hotel for several nights so you can stretch your budget and spend more of your money on experiences and entertainment when you’re traveling.
You can check out Airbnb which is a homestay network allowing people to rent out rooms, apartments, or homes to travelers for a nightly rate.
Airbnb is often more affordable than hotels and you can get more space. Staying in an Airbnb also provides you with the opportunity to cook some of your meals so you won’t have to dine out several times a day.
Another option you could consider would be staying in a hostel. While I don’t think hostels are super family friendly, if you are traveling along with a partner or friend, you could make it work.
Hostels are dormitory-style accommodations which allow you to rent a bed and share common areas like the bathroom and kitchen with other travelers. If you’re going to spend most of your time out, staying in a hostel is a much cheaper solution than a hotel. Don’t forget your cooler from Survival Cooking List of Best Coolers when you go out!
You can go to Hostel.com to view rates and accommodations near your next destination.
Don’t forget about camping. If you’re going to be near a lot of national parks or wooded areas, consider spending a night or two camping in order to save on lodging. Many campgrounds have running water, electricity, showers, and laundry facilities.
Prioritize the Attractions You Want to See
Planning ahead for attractions and sightseeing is always a good idea. You don’t want to go somewhere with absolutely no idea how you’ll spend your time.
On the other hand, you also need to accept the fact that you won’t be able to do and see everything. Trying to experience everything in a touristy area can leave you feeling pretty broke.
Try making a list of the top activities you’d like to do and places you’d like to visit. Then, search for coupons and discounts to stretch your dollar. You can check tourist websites along with Groupon and LivingSocial for deals.
Also, don’t be afraid to take some down time as well. It’s okay to take an afternoon resting up or spend a day at the beach if you are visiting a tropical area.
Traveling can be tiring, so you’ll want to maintain your health and energy. It makes no sense to try to run 24/7. You won’t be able to enjoy your trip that way.
Do you have any plans for budget travel for this year? How will you keep travel within your budget?