How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget

Written by: George Smith
05/22/2019

travel-budget

If you’re a person who believes that traveling abroad is a luxury, which is only available to the wealthy elite, then think again. You don’t necessarily have to be a lottery winner in order to take a trip to Europe, as long as you spend wisely and budget efficiently. Here are some ideas to help you plan your vacation, without costing you an arm and a leg.

(8.) Use Your Points

Before you book your flight, it’s important you realize that money doesn’t grow on trees, which is why it never hurts to use credit card points. Many credit card merchants will provide travel points to customers who regularly spend money. The Chase Sapphire card will award points and miles for every transaction you make, which can go towards paying for hotels, airfare, or you can exchange your points for a companion pass. Oftentimes providers will even offer sign-up bonuses, which is an easy way to quickly earn a lot of points.

It also never hurts to use your frequent flyer miles either. Ordinarily, many card providers allow their customers to earn miles every time they swipe their card. Nevertheless, a rule of thumb for redeeming miles is to always redeem them for their maximum value.

(7.) Plan your Flight Carefully.

When it comes to booking a flight, your timing is literally everything, which is why it’s common to book a flight up to a year in advance. Many people will plan their entire vacation around the most affordable travel destination. Apps such as Expedia and Skyscanner provide customers cheap flights to hundreds of different destinations including Europe. Flying to Europe has never been so inexpensive; airlines such as Virgin and Norwegian Air provide affordable flights to anywhere in Europe. In order to find the cheapest flight possible, you have to be very flexible to where and when you choose to travel. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book a one-way ticket, rather than booking round-trip. If you’re not on a tight schedule, I recommend booking a one-way flight. The price of the flight may fluctuate daily and a round-trip ticket often will cost you more money than 2 one-way tickets. If you’re booking a flight on a budget, the more layovers you have, the cheaper you’re flight will be. A layover or stop-over may initially seem like a huge inconvenience, but it can actually save you hundreds of dollars. Taking direct flight may be more convenient, but flights with multiple layovers are significantly cheaper.

(6.) Rideshare Services

It’s not always easy to find a taxi, especially if you have no idea where you are, which is why I strongly suggest using a rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft. The great thing about rideshare is it allows you to pay through the app, which is easier than having to carry hundreds of dollars in cash. Using a cab is very expensive, especially if you get stuck in traffic, but with rideshare, you’ll pay a reduced fare that can also be split between you and the other passengers. For example, in NYC, a 5-mile cab ride will run you $18, while UberX costs between 6 to 8 dollars. Another benefit of using rideshare is the drivers are pretty friendly and receive a review at the end of each ride. Using rideshare gives you the opportunity to become better acquitted with the locals and the app is equipped with GPS software designed to track the car and ensure your safety.

(5.) Public Transportation and Walking

A common question many people ask themselves when it comes to planning a vacation is, “How do I get around?” Well, unless you’re planning on renting a car or having your vehicle shipped, you’ll more than likely have to rely on public transportation or walking. This will give you a chance to become more familiar with the locals and their public transportation methods. This provides you a firsthand opportunity to experience the country and see its sights on your own. Buses and trains are on a timed-schedule, which are often deemed more reliable than using a taxi. Depending on where you’re visiting, they may provide a van or mini-bus to take you to and from the airport. If public transportation isn’t for you, you could simply walk or rent a bicycle from a local vendor.

(4.) Pack your Own Food

Packing food into your carry-on is never a bad idea. There is nothing worse than eating overpriced airport terminal food, which can run you as much as $15 for a ham sandwich. You should consider packing some snacks into your carry-on, this will give you something to munch on without costing you an arm and a leg.

(3.) Choose a Hotel Alternative

Why book a room in an overcrowded, pricey hotel, when there are plenty of more affordable options. Staying at a hotel for a week can end up costing you thousands of dollars, along with a deposit, which is why you should consider renting a room or small apartment. Apps such as, VRBO and Airbnb offer short-term rental units, equipped with a living area, bathroom, and kitchen, for a fraction of what a typical hotel would cost you. If renting an apartment is beyond your budget, you could try house sitting. There are plenty of sites designed to help verified homeowners find reliable house sitters.

(2.) Create a Food Budget

When it comes to traveling, eating out can be very expensive, so instead of dining at overpriced international restaurants, you should instead try and eat where the locals eat and stick to street vendors and smaller restaurants. Eating locally is also a lot healthier than eating at an empty hotel restaurant, where the likelihood of contracting food poisoning is significantly higher. When a person’s hunger kicks in, the first thing they think about isn’t usually the price of the food, which is why you should do plenty of research ahead of time. Many restaurants will feature lunch specials with reduced prices. When you do decide to search for a place to eat, you should never eat within 5 blocks of any major tourist destination, unless you want to pay more double the price. In order to save money, you should only go out to eat when absolutely necessary and instead book a room with a mini-refrigerator and microwave, which will allow you to shop locally and prepare meals yourself.

(1.) Visit Free Tourist Attractions

Why spend hundreds of dollars just to visit an overcrowded tourist attraction, when there are plenty of free activities. For example, there are a plethora of free things to do in Europe. If you’re in Spain on a Sunday you can visit one of their best-known museums, the Prado, for free. Or if you’re visiting Rome and you happen to be in town the last Sunday of that month, you can visit the Vatican Museum for free and bear witness to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel or works by Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dail, and Marc Chagall.


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