Source: Public Domain Pictures
The weather’s warming up quickly, and as a result, endless travel possibilities are running through our heads, getting everyone in that unique, adventurous mood, ready for their next trip. Although some people will be making the final preparations for a trip they’ve been planning and saving for over several months, others will find themselves sorely disappointed by how limited their budgets are. Finding the time to travel is hard enough, but one of the biggest challenges facing avid travellers these days is finding the money to make their adventures happen. If you’re strapped for cash this year, there are going to be certain destinations and experiences that are simply off-limits. Having said that, there are a range of effective ways to stretch out your funds as much as possible…
Pin Down the Bargains
You may already be aware of some of the resources there are for keeping tabs on deals for flights and hotels. However, like most people, it’s likely that you’re not leveraging all you possibly could. Make sure you’re on every list possible for coupons and discount codes, by following all your favourite airlines, hotels, car rental places and so on through their mailing lists and social media. If you don’t want to be sifting through ads every time you open your email client, then create a new account specifically for travel offers. Another great way to find these kinds of deals is through online discount websites, such as Groupon.com. There are even credit cards that will automatically give you points to spend on flights, accommodation and so on. You can read more about these at Upgradedpoints.com. When you’re trying to take advantage of any of these deals, just be sure to read all the Ts and Cs. They usually don’t allow for much flexibility or extra options, and many have to be purchased during a fairly short window of time.
Be More Detailed With your Planning
Source: Max Pixel
The next time you sit down to do some planning and budgeting for an upcoming trip, keep that old saying in mind “the devil is in the details”. Even if you’re trying to save as much as possible on as many things as possible, it can be a big mistake to overlook any of the incidentals. These can add up to a lot of money by the end of a trip, especially if it’s a particularly long one. Try to look for accommodation that includes little necessities such as breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking. Never assume that the facilities at a hotel are going to be included in what you’re paying, and always read the small print and asterisks you come across. At a lot of resorts, you can get access to many of these kinds of perks simply by joining a loyalty program on the day that you check in.
Work On Your Flexibility
If there’s one trend that’s totally undeniable when it comes to travellers’ wallets, it’s that the more flexible you can be, the easier you’ll find it to dodge those high prices. If you’re travelling to a destination that’s known to be very pricey, try to find some way of moving your plans around so that you visit in a less popular period. If you’d love to go on a big cruise, push it forward to the early autumn, or put off “before you die” destinations like Prague and Hawaii during the slow weeks just before (or after) the rush of Christmas and New Years’. The best way to save money through flexibility is being able to wait for those last-minute deals. With the number of different apps and websites specifically made for this these days, you’ll find it easier than ever! Lastminute.com is a great little platform that offers major discounts on bookings up to 48 hours in advance. You can also check out sites like Routehappy; a mass database of flights which assigns specific values to seats, flyer ratings, amenities and so on. These resources and many more make it a complete breeze to find the best travel experiences at the lowest possible prices.
Get Tips From the Pros
Many popular travel bloggers are out on adventures for 200 days of the year or even more. Travelling is part of their professional occupation, so what better way to pick up tips and advice than through reading their reviews, experiences and tips? Obviously, everyone has their preferences when it comes to travel writing, and you might like to stick to a select few blogs. However, if you make a point of broadening your horizons, you’ll probably find bloggers who may not mesh all that well with your preferences, but who can give you updates on special deals and rates through their mailing lists or social media profiles.
Strain Away from the Centre
In almost every destination you can think of, the city-centre rate for accommodation is significantly more expensive than any of the outer urban districts, or even the suburbs. If you’re planning to be out of the room for most of the day, as most travellers do, then it’s a real no-brainer to save a little money on accommodation and give yourself a little more money for really experiencing the spirit of the country. Sure, this will make it a tad harder to get to all the sights and events on your list, but as long as there are some public transport links around, you’ll still have a great experience. Even with the amount you’ll spend on bus and train tickets, you’ll generally wind up saving hundreds. If you’re going to be hopping from place to place, and you’re only staying in a certain area for a weekend, you may want to look for a business hotel that’s desperate to fill their beds. These places can give incredibly attractive rates, not to mention some pretty nice facilities. The only real drawback to finding accommodation far away from the city is that reviews and information can be generally much harder to come by. Unless you’re on the clock, be sure to do some digging to find out about hotels’ reputations before you book.
Think Outside the Box
One of the main things that makes it hard for passionate travellers to make it to the destinations they want to visit is that they tend to only look at the more mainstream options, for example motels, hotels, cabs and rental cars. While you may think that some trips are simply not in the budget, it’s important to consider all the accommodation and transportation options available to you before you decide to cross any destination off the list. Do a little digging, and you’ll find that there’s endless possibilities for couchsurfing, home-swapping, and simply renting a residence straight from the owner. As you’re probably aware, Airbnb is among the most popular platforms for finding alternative accommodation options, which are almost always much cheaper than any hotel room. You can also save a small fortune on getting around by foregoing cabs and rental cars. By taking buses and subways in big cities, you can easily knock a whopping 50% off your overall travel costs. Once you’ve settled on a destination, start downloading and sourcing any maps, apps, phrasebooks and guides that will make life easier. The world is full of potentially complicated public travel systems, such as Amsterdam’s street cars and the Moscow Metro. You’ll find these networks much easier to navigate and understand if you do a lot of research ahead of time. As always, there are websites and apps that can help you with this. MetrO, for instance, allows you to find out about the world’s transportation systems, and get downloadable updates as and when you need them.
Join a Club
Finally, don’t forget about the savings you can reap through memberships, such as AAA, Unison, and various supermarket points schemes. The next time you’re talking to a travel agent with a big trip on the horizon, make sure that they’re aware of your affiliation with any of these clubs and schemes. These can lead to some huge, exclusive savings. Going back to what we mentioned earlier, some credit card holders can enjoy perks, for example the option to check luggage for free, or double mileage offers. Even if you’re not way up in the upper echelons of a certain scheme, you can still flex your loyalty to a certain airline, hotel chain, or rental company. In a lot of cases, these kinds of partnerships can give you some major savings, or at least a big pay-off of reward points that you’ll be able to use to save money later on. There’s really only one golden rule when it comes to saving money through travel companies: you can’t be afraid to ask!
If you’d love to see more of the world, but your budget is always getting in the way of these dreams, try taking these tips on board when you’re planning your next big trip. With just a few of these pointers, you’ll be amazed at how much cheaper some great travelling experiences are.