Traveling abroad may seem like an unobtainable goal, especially if you have the added expense of taking children with you. However, there are several techniques that you can utilize to help make a trip overseas just as affordable as one within your own country. In fact, any thrifty traveler can go on a seemingly once in a lifetime vacation as long as they take the time to properly analyze their options and prepare for a well-budgeted and planned out holiday.
1. Choose Airfare Wisely
The cost of airfare varies not only by the time of year but even by the day of the week that your trip begins. Travel experts recommend purchasing tickets somewhere between 50 and 100 days before your departure. You can also reduce your expenses by as much as 20 percent by selecting flights that depart on a Thursday and return on a Monday. Additionally, most airlines offer discounted tickets during the month of September, but you might be required to travel relatively quickly in order to take advantage of this option. Another good way to cut costs is by traveling abroad to your chosen overseas destination during the off-season.
2. Be a Thrifty Diner
It is easy to get wrapped up in allure of trying out several new restaurants, especially if you really enjoy the cuisine that your vacation destination is known for. On the other hand, unless your trip was planned primarily around the idea of eating out frequently, you can use this aspect of daily life to save some money.
For example, you will often find a mixture of cafés and high-class restaurants in the same general area. Eating at a café or even from a street vendor is by far the better financial choice. Keep in mind that you can also pick up supplies from the local grocery store to eat for even less. Making a picnic lunch is a great way to keep your energy up for a minimal cost, and it will encourage you to enjoy a local park while you are exploring the town.
3. Screen Car Rentals
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you even need a car rental. If the answer is a definite yes, you should take the time to look through discount booking sites in order to get the best possible deal. You will also need to familiarize yourself with the local laws and what, if any, assistance your insurance company will provide if you are in an accident. This will make it easier to avoid adding on insurance that you do not need. Another important step to take is looking through traveler reviews from the car rental companies that you are considering. Doing this will enable you to steer clear of companies that have a history of providing poor customer service or inflating their rental rates.
4. Utilize the Cheapest Transportation
If you do not need to rent a car, you can save even more money by ensuring that you choose the cheapest transportation options for each portion of your journey. Walking is always the best method from a cost perspective, and it will allow you to truly experience a new town. However, when this is not a suitable option, you should look into any discounted train and bus tickets that are offered for travelers. A prime example of this is the fact that you can save money by buying a 10 pack of train tickets in Paris. There are also discounts for using an Oyster card in London during non-peak hours. Buying in advance can save you time and money, along with eliminating the hassle of attempting to communicate in a different language while you are traveling abroad.
5. Know Your Currency
The currency exchange rate changes constantly, so it is a good idea to research these rates before you leave for your trip. You can also exchange your currency in advance, and this means that it can be very beneficial to begin tracking the exchange rate a few months before your trip. After all, if the rate experiences a notable drop, you could save a lot of money by moving forward with an exchange before the cost increases again. You may also wish to use the exchange rates to help you determine which country to visit. American travelers can currently get more out of their money in Australia and New Zealand than in Europe, and this is definitely worth considering.
6. Research Your Accommodations
Many people choose a hotel because it is part of a chain that they are familiar with or it is available for a discount through a travel site. Although both of these reasons can lead to a solid decision, there are several other options that you should consider. If you are comfortable sharing space and are not traveling with children, you may be able to save a lot of money at a hostel.
Travelers who want more privacy than a hostel can offer may be able to find very good deals by choosing a vacation rental property in lieu of a hotel. The pricing will probably be similar, but the added bonus of being able to cook your own meals can save you a lot of money on dining out. Make sure that you select a rental that is close to the downtown area or located near a bus or train line, though, or else you will waste your saved lodging money on transportation. As always, check into the reviews of any place that you are considering to ensure that you make an informed decision. You can get some financial protection by reserving a rental through VRBO.com or Airbnb.com.
7. Use Savvy Shopping Skills While Traveling Abroad
Traditional stores may have items of interest, but they are also much more likely to be easily duplicated at home. Instead, look into local markets where truly one-of-a-kind items can be found at a reduced cost. Many cultures expect you to haggle over pricing in the marketplace, so be sure to research local customs to avoid spending more money than necessary. Azerbaijan is a prime example of this practice. The pricing in their markets is always inflated to allow consumers to haggle for a better deal, but they will take the listed price with a confused smile if you are not savvy enough to know how their markets work.
8. Download Budget Travel Apps
Although it is wise to book as many things in advance as possible, you may still find yourself needing to select a new hotel or rental car while you are on the go. Instead of attempting to do everything in person, you can use budget travel apps to quickly sort through all of your options until you find the right deal. These apps can also be very useful when you are in the planning stages of your trip because they make it possible to track price fluctuations so that you can snatch up a good discount.
9. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment
Almost every major city has a long list of free entertainment options, but you might need to spend some time researching this topic in order to find what you are looking for. Of course, cities such as London actually make it quite easy to stay entertained for free throughout your visit. Almost every museum in London is free, which means it is a dream destination for art and history lovers. If Paris is more your style, you can visit the highly regarded Louvre for free on the first Sunday of every month. Free museum days tend to attract a very large crowd, so be prepared to get in line early or else face the potential consequence of waiting for several hours. You may also be able to find free concerts in a local park during the summer.
10. Steer Clear of the “Only Here” Mentality
There are some things that can only be done in specific locations, and you may wish to put some of your budget toward these experiences and events. This definitely makes sense and can be very memorable, but be sure to steer clear of doing too many of these special things because they will almost certainly break your budget. The best way to do this is to list out every unique experience you want to have and then narrow it down to the one or two things on the list that are the most exciting or affordable. Additionally, do not waste time or money on activities that can be done at home. In other words, it does not make sense to go to the movies to see the latest blockbuster when the same film is showing at home. Spending your budget wisely requires you to make choices that can maximize your fun without costing an arm and a leg.
You can also make a smaller budget work by using practical traveling tips such as doing laundry during your vacation and keeping your money safe in your front pocket. Putting all of these techniques to work for you can make it possible to take a trip that always seemed to be outside your financial means. Even if you still have to save up for a couple of years to turn your dream vacation into a reality, there is no good reason to stay stuck at home when you could begin seeing the world.
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