The average vacation costs an astounding $1,145 per person, so it’s no wonder that so many people believe they can’t afford to travel. However, when you consider the fact that vacations are important for physical and mental health, it’s easy to understand that it’s necessary for everyone to take a break at least once a year. If financial concerns have prevented you from taking an annual vacation, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the numerous ways you can bring expenses down without sacrificing the trip of your dreams.
1. Adjust the Timing of Your Vacation
Everyone wants to go to tourist hot spots during the summer, but this is the most expensive and crowded time of the year. If you want to go when the weather is still good, simply make travel plans for the week before or after the peak season. This is especially beneficial in small beach towns because the crowds will be gone, the beaches will be practically deserted and you’re much more likely to get a good deal on lodging, food and souvenirs. As an added bonus, avoiding the peak season is ideal for introverts and parents who wish to avoid large crowds and long lines.
2. Choose a Vacation Rental Home
Airbnb and other similar sites are all the rage right now, and with good reason; they provide lodging that is more comfortable and often cheaper than hotels. Additionally, you’ll have access to a fully-equipped kitchen, which means you can save a ton of money on food. It’s important to check the fine print though, as many of these online services charge booking fees that inflate the total price. Tripz is a notable exception to this trend because they don’t have any booking or commission fees for vacation rentals. In other words, you can enjoy living like a local for an even lower price.
3. Use Discount Sites
Discount sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial make it possible to save a lot of money on airfare, lodging, excursions, rental cars and dining. Again, the best time to take advantage of these deals is during the off-season when package deals can be found for more than half off the regular price. These deals always have very specific guidelines, including which travel dates you must adhere to, so be sure to read through everything thoroughly before purchasing anything. The best prices are typically offered for international destinations.
4. Travel Light
The average cost of checking luggage for a flight is $25, but this price increases steeply with each additional bag. By the time you get to your third piece of luggage, you can expect to pay hundreds to travel with three bags. Instead, it’s best to maximize your carry-on option and, if necessary, restrict your travel items to no more than what can fit in one checked bag. This becomes much easier if you’re staying at a vacation rental that offers laundry on-site. Although no one wants to do laundry during their vacation, the cost of detergent and a bit of your time is much better than spending hundreds of dollars to take a larger wardrobe with you. You can also use the money you save on baggage fees to help pay for the rest of your vacation expenses.
5. Skip the Rental Car
Are you flying into a major city such as London or New York City? These areas have comprehensive public transportation options that make it easy to get anywhere without spending a lot of money. It’s also important to note that having a rental car will require you to pay a lot of parking fees, along with additional stress of driving in a congested downtown area. Skip the hassle and all of the associated expenses. Instead, invest in a subway or bus card and allow someone else to transport you around the city.
6. Take Advantage of Free Days
Many cities offer free admission to museums and other major tourist attractions at certain times of the month or year. For example, Paris offers free admission to notable locations such as the Louvre on the first Sunday of every month. If you’re under the age of 26, you can also visit this world-renowned museum for free on Friday evenings. The Louvre is usually €15.00, so utilizing a free day is a great way to save a lot of money. You’ll want to get in line really early though, as a lot of people show up on these days.
7. Restrict Your Dining Out
Yes, people often go to other cities or countries looking for new dining experiences. However, eating out for every meal can quickly become one of the most expensive parts of your trip. Remove this expense by packing a picnic lunch each day. If you’re in a vacation rental or a hotel room with a kitchenette, you’ll also be able to cook dinner and keep leftovers refrigerated. If you feel like you must eat out, do it only once a day. Lunch is usually cheaper than dinner, and it’s best to avoid tourist trap restaurants that inflate their prices.
8. Become a House Sitter
Are you willing to travel at random times to a wide variety of places and take on a few responsibilities in exchange for a place to stay? House sitting is rapidly becoming a viable alternative option for people who can demonstrate that they are trustworthy. The way these programs work is that you stay in someone’s home while they enjoy their own vacation. House sitting gigs can last as little as a couple of nights all the way to several months. Be aware that you may have to do tasks such as pet sitting or taking care of plants as part of the deal, but you will get to stay somewhere for free! Of course, there’s no guarantee a house sitting job will be posted in a specific area, so this is best for people who are comfortable with spontaneity.
Travel has been proven to help people become smarter, healthier and less stressed. Therefore, it’s truly important to prioritize taking an annual vacation. If possible, go on a few vacations per year, even if this means you choose locations that are closer to home. By incorporating tips such as booking a vacation rental online, traveling light and using public transportation, you can travel around the world without being rich. Some people choose to get temporary jobs while traveling to make the experience even more affordable.
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