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Traveling is meant to be fun, but planning the vacation and then staying within budget can take the fun right out of your trip.
But with careful planning you can make your dream vacation a reality. Use these travel hacks to save big money on your next vacation.
And read til the end for the best apps to help you save money on your next trip.
Use daily deal sites
This way you’ll avoid paying the high tourist fees and get the deals the locals do.
Look up the city you’re traveling to before you head out and grab some cheap deals. Not only will you score a bargain, you’ll also get a better idea of what there is to do in the area you’re headed to.
If you want to avoid the crows (and the high cost), skip the main tourist attractions and visit the smaller, lesser known places listed on the daily deal sites for an adventure minus the crowds and big bills.
Look into your dining options
Research any specific local restaurants you want to visit on your trip first. Sometimes you can find a coupon on their website or a discount for joining their email list.
Then check restaurant.com for discount gift certificates. Just type in the zip code of the area you’re headed to and you’ll see a list of local eateries offering great deals.
Research transportation first
You can plan all you want but if you don’t plan how you’re going to get around, you’ll end up going over budget.
Here’s how to make sure your transportation costs don’t eat into your travel budget.
- If you’re planning on going to visit the typical tourist hot spots, look into staying at a hotel with free shuttles to and from these areas.
- If you’re going to stay for a while, it might be best to look into renting a car for the week.
- Plan your trip to minimize travel, grouping nearby places for the same day.
- Look into whether there’s a direct bus route to your destinations if you don’t want to pay for an Uber.
Look into any membership perks
Check out your member perks for any services you belong to.
If you’re a member of AAA, Bank of America or any other organization that gives discounts and perks, check out what’s available at your destination.
For example, Bank of America offers free admission to partner museums on the first weekend of every month. That can really add up if you happen to be traveling at the right time.
Consider dining in
Often times you go on a vacation for sightseeing, yet the biggest expense ends up being the food.
If the purpose of your trip isn’t to visit restaurants, skip them altogether and go grocery shopping.
If your accommodations have a small fridge and a microwave, you can pick up some ready-to-eat meals.
Things like milk, cereal, sandwiches are all great small meals for a quick breakfast or lunch and can cut your food budget in half.
Search for budget locations
A vacation in Poland will cost a whole lot cheaper than a trip to France. So try to evaluate what you really want to get out of your trip before you plan it.
Do you want a beach escapade, a historical adventure, or a cultural experience? Once you have defined what you really want, pick the destination that can hand you that experience in the cheapest package.
Plan (way) ahead of time
Much like the early bird gets the worm, those who plan their trip early get the best rates.
Low-cost seats on an airline, off-season hotel room rates and free attraction tickets aren’t available year-round either. So plan your trip at the right time and reserve your spot early.
Your chances of getting the best deals in town are much higher if you book months ahead of schedule. When seats, rooms or tickets begin selling out, the price of the remaining tickets always go up.
Set a travel budget (and stick to it)
Before planning your trip to determine how much money you want to spend on it. Look at your savings, your debt and your monthly income to determine how much of a trip you can afford.
Once you come up with a dollar amount be sure not to exceed this amount. Take into account transportation costs, hotel stay, food, souvenirs and attractions. Then factor in a couple hundred dollars more for “miscellaneous”.
When you say budget travel, you have to learn how to let go of some of the frills and perks that you’re used to. So instead of booking a car rental service, use public transportation instead. Instead of a guided tour, try a do-it-yourself sightseeing trip.
Travel in groups
There’s nothing more affordable than a bill split four ways. So instead of traveling as a couple, find a set of friends with whom you can share the experience (all the expenses) with.
If you book with the travel agent they may be able to give you a better discount by ordering more tickets. You can also join an existing group to qualify for even better rates.
8 best apps to save money on travel
- Foursquare City Guide
Foursquare city guide is an app with helpful tips on the best spots, written by locals and visitors just like you.
Kayak is a website that helps you compare airfare and hotel prices.
While that alone doesn’t sound like anything special, it actually goes a step farther and gathers prices from multiple booking sites so you can easily find the lowest price without the hassle.
There are several ways to filter your results, giving you the ability to customize your search results and find exactly what you’re looking for.
Triposo is your virtual vacation guide in a convenient app format. Just put in where you want to go and the types of things you like to do then let the app do all the work.
It’ll take into account your budget and the weather to help you make the most of your vacation.
Triposo is really good at finding local entertainment, making it a must-have for travelers.
TripAdvisor connects you with other people who have gone to the destination you’re interested in so you can read real reviews about the places you’re planning to visit.
You can see what other travelers thought about the activities you plan to do, the restaurants you plan to eat at and the services you plan to use.
The app can help you choose the best available options to have a vacation that’s worth remembering.
Zomato (formerly UrbanSpoon) is an app that you can use at home or while you travel. It looks for restaurants in your general area, gives you menus and gathers reviews.
It also tells you a general price range so you can pick a restaurant that’s within your price range.
GasBuddy is another app you can use all the time whether you’re at home or on the go.
The app helps you find the best gas prices around so you can fill up for the least amount of money. If you’re road tripping, GasBuddy is a must-have app.
Waze is part map app and part social-networking app for drivers.
Not only will you enjoy turn-by-turn directions to your destination, but you’ll also get helpful tips from other drivers about construction, accidents and speed traps.
The app is notorious for draining batteries quickly, so make sure your phone is plugged into a charger when you use it.
- Wi-Fi Finder
If you don’t have unlimited data, you’ll want to have wi-fi finder on your phone. The app finds locations that have free or for-free wi-fi services.
It’s a great way to save your data by simply logging into a wi-fi connection instead.