Trips cost money, and sometimes our wallets just aren’t equipped to handle it.
Perhaps you want to take a ‘filet mignon’ kind of trip, but you only have a hot dog budget? Does that mean you should scrap the idea of a getaway? No, because there are secrets to stretching that tight budget so you can enjoy a well-deserved vacation.
According to Jennifer Price, a travel agent with MickeyTravels, LLC in Long Valley, New Jersey, a travel budget is divided into four basic parts: lodging, dining, transportation, attractions and activities. Here are ways to tackle each:
A Place to Stay
“Think outside the box where lodging is concerned,” said Price. “House share sites, such as VRBO or Airbnb, are an increasingly popular and affordable way to visit desirable locations on a budget. The bonus is that it truly lets you live like a local in your travel destination.
“Being able to cook some of your meals rather than having to dine in a restaurant for three meals a day will certainly save the traveler money. Not only that, it will immerse you even further into local culture. Eat breakfast in your flat. Pack a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn at the local park or outdoor landmark. Then spend your money on a moderately priced dinner at a local favorite.”
When it comes to saving money on admissions to local attractions, Price said that it starts with research: “Many tourist destinations have discount cards now, which offer a hefty savings if you plan to visit multiple tourist attractions during your stay. Nationally, there are a variety of apps, such as LivingSocial and Groupon, which often offer coupons and discounted rates to popular destinations.”
There are money-saving rewards cards for transportation too.
“Sign up for a rewards card with your favorite airline and register for apps, such as Hopper or Skyscanner, and input the destinations you frequent,” said Price. “These apps will alert you when prices to these destinations decrease.”
Or skip flying altogether and take the bus or train when you can.
“These options add to your adventure and save you a bundle,” noted Price.
Book the Flight First
“Flights can be the single most costly part of any trip,” said Jacqui Whitt of Adios Adventure Travel in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who knows of one family who booked a cheap mistake fare to Peru:
“Airlines can miscalculate and release ridiculously low airfares by mistake. When these error fares pop up you must snatch them quickly, and this family was on the ball.”
The family contacted Whitt to then set up their trip to Machu Picchu based on these flight dates.
“There was no disadvantage for them to set up their trip with pre-booked flights and dates this far in advance,” said Whitt. “The cost for the ground expenses will be the same whether they pre-book the flight or wait and book it after I set up their itinerary.”
Whitt said that not everyone will be able to find a mistake fare, but there are plenty of opportunities to find budget-friendly airfares with online searches.
“It helps to be flexible with things like hotels and hike permits,” she added. “Many times we may have a fix for something that can’t be undone, but if approached from a different angle it could be done more cheaply.”
Act Like a Local
Sara Perkins, a Dream Vacations Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist with Vacations by Land and Sea in Abingdon, Maryland, advises her clients to learn the destination’s cultural habits and then do as the locals do.
“They’ll ultimately pay less and get more enjoyment of ‘blending in,’” said Perkins. “In Europe, you will pay less if you eat your breakfast at a standing table or take it to-go; At restaurants in Europe, you do not need to leave an added tip as we do in the U.S.”
Talk to Your Agent
Saving money on a vacation can be as easy as making a phone call to your travel agent, who is there to help you.
“When you speak to your client, you are creating a relationship, gaining trust, showing off your expertise, and hearing what the client’s wants, needs and desires are,” said Kelly Ortiz of Guru Travel in Elgin, Illinois.
“A lot of times clients think they know their budget until they realize what they are going to get for it. If you have a good solid product for a client within their budget, give it to them and make sure you educate them on the pros and cons. If you do not have an acceptable product for them, let them know, and give them the good reasons why.”
Pay in Parts
If dishing out a whole bunch of money on a trip will kill your budget, Jacquie Whitt has a better idea to help stretch your budget.
“Buy your trip on layaway. We help our clients set up a payment schedule that works for their needs, and we send the reminders and process the payments,” said Whitt of Adios Adventure Travel in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “By the time they leave for the trip, it’s paid for.”
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