9 Ways to Travel Big on a Tiny Budget
Whether it’s for business or pleasure, traveling can be expensive. You must pay for transportation, lodging, food and more. Because of the high cost of traveling, many Americans avoid taking vacations even if they are paid for by their employer. Thankfully, though, there are ways to travel on a budget.
#1) Book Early
Don’t wait until the night before your departure to book transportation. Booking early can save you big bucks when traveling. A study conducted by CheapAir found that booking airline tickets 47 days in advance offered the cheapest prices.
#2) Use a Rewards Credit Card
Carrying around a wad of cash when traveling is just asking for trouble. If you lose your wallet or purse, you may be forced to call and ask a family member for help. A rewards credit card, however, eliminates this problem while also allowing you to accumulate rewards points. Depending on the specific type of card, you might be able to redeem these points for cash, gift cards, merchandise or airline tickets. Furthermore, many credit cards feature travel insurance and discounts on lodging and transportation.
#3) Avoid Holidays
If possible, avoid traveling during holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and summer break. Because of the high number of travelers during the holidays, you can expect to pay more for transportation and lodging. By planning your trip so that it doesn’t coincide with a holiday, however, you’ll save money on these and other related expenses.
#4) Consider Airbnb
A hotel is only one lodging option to consider when traveling. When planning a trip, check Airbnb prices as well. According to a study conducted by the coach travel company Busbud, Airbnb lodging is cheaper than hotel lodging for most of the northern United States. As you may already know, Airbnb is a marketplace where property owners rent out their homes to people in search of temporary lodging. After buying a home, an owner may sell lodging to travelers through the service.
#5) Rent a Bike
If you’re traveling to a densely populated city, you probably don’t need to rent a car once you arrive. A cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative is to cycle. Bike sharing has become an increasingly popular method of transportation in recent years. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), more than 88 million trips have been made in the United States using these rented bikes. You generally pay a small fee, such as $1 for 30 minutes, to use the bike. When finished, you return it to one of several bike-sharing stations.
#6) Bring Your Own Food
Aside from lodging, one of the biggest expenses associated with traveling is food. Statistics show that food accounts for roughly 16 percent of the average American’s travel expenses. Rather than fasting, however, consider bringing your own food from home. If you’re driving, you can pack a cooler with meats and vegetables while carrying other foods in a large bag. Not only will this save you money, but it’s also better for your health than eating out twice a day.
If you’re flying to your destination, consider buying groceries locally and cooking them in your hotel or lodging room. Either way, you should limit the number of times that you eat out to cut down on your traveling costs.
#7) Find Free Activities
Regardless of your intended travel destination, there are probably free activities nearby. From state parks and museums to concerts and fairs, explore some of the free activities to save money. As long as you have internet access, you can search online for free activities nearby. And if you can’t find any online, ask around for suggestions.
#8) Go Off the Beaten Path
Sometimes it’s best to venture off the beaten path. If your travel destination has a crowded marketplace that’s filled with tourists, ask some of the locals about other, lesser-known areas. Here, you can find restaurants, shops and activities that cost a fraction of the price and often deliver better products or services.
#9) Track Your Expenses
Finally, be sure to track all your expenses when traveling. Unless you know exactly how much you spend, you won’t be able to travel on a budget. When you make a purchase, make note of what you purchased and how much you paid for it. You can either write this information on paper, or you can use a mobile expense-tracking app. The Travel Expense app for Android is a free, easy-to-use app that allows you to track your expenses. It even features a currency conversion calculator for international trips.
Don’t let the high cost of traveling prevent you from traveling. Follow the nine tips listed here to reach your intended destination without breaking your bank account.