Travel in the off-season
Ok, so you may not get the perfect weather, but everything is going to be cheaper – airfare, hotels, tours, rentals, etc. You’ll also be able to beat the crowds – and really, how nice is that? Figure out where you are going and check out when the high and low seasons are – it’s different for every region, of course.
To get a better deal, you sometimes just have to ask. Go for it. During slow periods, most in the travel industry would rather sell a room or seat at a discounted price than not sell it at all. Be sure to ask for the corporate, student or teacher rate, if applicable.
Do your research
Pick up a guidebook written for budget travellers – there are a few different ones out there like Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Frommer’s. There are often lots of great tips in here along with everything you’ll need to know about how to get around, where to stay, how much it will cost, etc, etc.
Also, be sure to not overlook word of mouth. Some of the coolest places and best deals are passed on by fellow travellers and locals of the place you’re staying in.
Instead of renting a car or using taxis to get around, why not try using public transportation. Subways and buses are usually pretty cheap. Try to buy a week or month-long pass, depending on how long you’ll be there. Bus drivers are usually extremely helpful – considering they speak the same language as you. When travelling any distance, look into taking a train – they are usually cheaper than flights. I say ‘usually’ because now with the number of budget airlines competing for business, you just never know what crazy deals you will find.
Get to know fellow travellers you meet on the road or who are staying at your hotel. Taking private vans and guided tours can be expensive, but if sharing with other people, it cuts the cost drastically.
If you need to rent a car, try to make the reservation ahead of time and at any place other than the airport, where it will always be the most expensive.
Of course, camping is always going to be the cheapest way to go. And now, there are quite a few places that actually have tent and equipment rentals, so you don’t have to carry all this stuff around with out. Brilliant idea!
Use the internet or your guide books to research places to stay. Online rates are frequently less expensive than what you would be quoted at the front desk. One approach is to check Agoda, Trip Advisor, Priceline, or similar sites for promotions. If you are booking in a tourist area with several accommodations, you can call one hotel with your budget and see if they have any suggestions for other hotels in your range.
Don’t forget to check the comments section of the sites to see what other guests had to say about the place first. You can learn a lot from these comments!
You can also try to avoid making advance hotel reservations unless you’re travelling during a festival, holiday or peak / high season. Once you get there, make a few phone calls to find the best deal, or go to an area with a few hotels and check rates in person. This approach can be good, but is obviously more time consuming and may not be great for everyone.
A lot of people think hostels are for young people and backpackers, but this really isn’t the case – there are lots of hostels around with families in mind. Of course, quality is going to vary from place to place, but it’s this way for lots of things. For example, in one place you and the kids could luck out and get a clean and awesome room all to yourselves with a balcony and amazing views. The next time you may end up in a 20-bunk room full of people who snore!
Some hostels will even let you to work for your stay. You may be able to negotiate a reduced rate in exchange for helping out with laundry or serving food at their restaurant. Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but good to know. Great for anyone traveling with teens and are staying in one spot for a while! They gain work experience and keep busy and you get a reduced rate on your room – sounds like a splendid idea.
House and condo rentals
Renting a house can save lots of money. This works best if you’ll be staying in one spot for a while. You now have a kitchen to prepare food – so no need to eat out all day long. There may be more privacy and you will get a better glimpse into the lives of locals this way too. May even get to know some of the neighbours!
Here are some great sites to check out if looking for something other than a hotel. You’ll be thrilled at the amazing deals you can find on these sites!
It’s fun to splurge on a delicious meal once in a while, but you can save money every day by following some of these tips:
Don’t eat all your meals in restaurants. Pick up fruits, bread, cheeses and meats from local markets and bakeries and have a picnic in a local park or where you’re staying. And who doesn’t love picnics?
Eat like a local
Find a food cart or hole-in-the-wall restaurant where the locals go. There is usually some great authentic local food and the prices tend to be reasonable. To find one, ask around or look for the crowded spots. The workers at places you stay or visit should be able to help you.
Some hotels and motels provide a free breakfast — make sure you find out what time it takes place and get on down there to fill up. Sleeping in can cost you a free meal! Some will even let you take some fruit or other stuff for a snack for later. It doesn’t hurt to ask – and hey, remember, you’re looking for ways to save money on your travels. And buying snacks is an expense, so cut it out when you can.
Pack some energy bars, dried fruit, whatever the kids like. When you’re trying to save money on the road, you’ll be happy you brought these along.
If there’s a student, teacher or youth in the family, look into picking up an international ID card. It will get you everything from discounts on airfare and transportation, to reduced admission at museums and other activities. You can find these cards at student travel agencies on college and university campuses.
Websites, tourist offices, hostels and hotel concierges can be excellent sources of information and they usually give out free maps of the city and other areas. These maps won’t have enough detail for driving or getting to obscure places, but they’re an excellent guide to the big attractions.
Many museums and tours are free on certain days or evenings. Check your guidebook or phone ahead. With luck or good planning, one of the free days will coincide with your visit. Hotels sometimes have coupons for reduced rates on admission. Just ask! You’ll be surprised what you can get sometimes.
Try to avoid impulse purchases. Photographs and postcards usually make better souvenirs than cheap knick-knacks. If you’re up for some serious shopping, practice your bargaining skills.
Think about what you are going to need and make sure you pack it – a lot of things are not only expensive to buy on the road, but completely inconvenient to go looking for. Check out this article on tips on packing light.
Hopefully there are some tips in here that will help you save some money. Remember, saving money where you can allows you to put it towards special things along the way. Enjoy!