Are you planning a relaxing vacation to get away from the stress of your daily life? If so, you may be worried about adding more stress in the process of planning your trip, especially if you have a tight budget. Money concerns may have you struggling to decide where to go and how to afford the expense.
Even if you go through with your travel plans, it is impossible to fully enjoy your vacation with financial concerns constantly on your mind. In fact, a 2017 study by the American Psychological Association named money as one of the primary sources of stress you can experience as an American citizen. Finding the best ways to increase your travel budget before you leave is essential.
There are two types of changes you can make to your travel budget to make your vacation a financial success. One is starting out with additional money. The other is finding ways to spend less money. By doing so, you can make your existing budget last longer. Here are some of the best ways to boost your travel budget with those goals in mind.
Start Saving for Travel Early and in a Specific Way
The best way to boost your travel budget is to avoid scrambling to pay for your vacation. Instead, if you know you are going on a trip at a set time, start saving for it well in advance. For example, if you take an annual family trip every December to see family for the holidays, begin saving in January. That way, your travel fund can build all year.
When saving throughout the year for your travel fund, you must also do so using a specific method to keep track of your progress. One way to do that is to open a vacation account at your local bank. Then you can see your travel budget balance anytime you want. You can also save money for your vacation at home. To do so, keep your spare change in a travel fund jar or save a set amount of money out of each paycheck you receive.
If you set up a vacation account at your local bank, the biggest challenge is remembering to use it. You can eliminate that worry by requesting automatic transfers. By doing so, you can select a set amount of money to automatically move to your vacation fund each time you receive a paycheck. Then you do not have to think about your travel fund again until you are ready to use it.
Reduce Your Flight Expenses
Airline travel can take up a large portion of your travel budget. The best way to reduce your flight costs is to avoid flying entirely. If your travel plans are domestic, driving may be the cheaper option. Driving allows you to visit roadside attractions inaccessible when you are on a plane. Alternatively, opt for a cheaper method of mass transportation, such as railroad travel. It takes longer, but the savings are worth it if your budget is tight.
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If you must fly to reach your destination, take advantage of the many techniques available to reduce your flight costs. Joining a frequent flyer program is one way to curb your travel costs. As you accumulate points, you can use them to get discounted flights. However, you must be aware of the program rules, since some points expire after a period of time. Other ways to save on airline travel include:
- Earning extra frequent flyer miles by making purchases or participating in other activities, such as taking surveys.
- Fly during off-peak days or at off-peak hours to get lower rates.
- Buy your tickets a few months ahead to get good rates.
- Purchase separate tickets when traveling with a group to get the best rates. Be aware you may not get a seat in the same part of the plane as your traveling companions.
Reduce Your Lodging Expenses
Next to transportation, lodging is one of the biggest expenses you are likely to have when traveling. To reduce your lodging expenses, consider unconventional lodging options. For example, camping at a lakeside campground is more budget-friendly than staying at an upscale lodge or hotel. You can also opt to rent a house during your stay. There are many companies offering rentals online. Doing so gives you more space and freedom. It also eliminates concerns like checking out at an exact time or dealing with noisy guests in the next room. Additionally, you may have easy access to conveniences like on-site laundry that may not be available at a hotel.
An even better way to reduce your lodging expenses is to choose a travel destination near the home of someone you know. Your loved one may allow you to stay in his or her home for free. In exchange, you may have to help with small tasks around the house during your stay. You may also choose to show your appreciation by buying him or her a gift or paying for an occasional meal. That is a small price to pay to reserve most of your travel budget for seeing sights or enjoying local attractions. It also gives you time to visit with your loved one, who you may not see often.
Use Technology and Local Resources to Save on Travel
There are numerous ways to use technology to save on travel. Many cellphone apps and websites cater to travelers like you. They offer coupons and discount codes for all sorts of expenses related to travel. Among those expenses are:
- Attractions and entertainment.
Local resources are also excellent sources for travel deals. Once you pick your destination, find the websites for the towns surrounding it. Check them to see if they offer coupon codes, discounts or other information you can use. For example, they may have reviews of local restaurants. Such reviews cannot help you save money directly, but knowing where to dine can allow you to spend the money you do have wisely. Local maps and pamphlets, such as those found at visitor centers in each U.S. state, also often include coupons you can use to save on travel.
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By Jennifer Symonds –