Do you always spend more than you plan to while traveling? It’s hard to stick to a budget when you’re on the go, but you don’t have to choose between traveling and preserving your budget. These seven tips will help you save money on your next weekend trip.
Get Your House Ready
Saving money starts before you leave for vacation. Avoid wasting money at home by turning down the thermostat and unplugging appliances (except the fridge!) before you leave. You should also clean any perishable food out of the fridge so you don’t return to a smelly home. And of course, make sure your doors and windows are locked and your fire alarm is working to prevent something very expensive from happening while you’re away.
If you’re flying to your weekend destination, don’t count on a last-minute flight deal to save you money. Forbes reports that last-minute flights average $208 more than flights purchased between three weeks and four months before the departure date. If you know where you plan to travel and when, set flight alerts to be notified when prices reach their lowest.
Avoid Peak Travel Weekends
Prices for flights and lodging rise during holiday weekends, but long weekends aren’t the only time to avoid travel. If you want to score the lowest prices, make sure there are no major festivals, conventions, or other events driving up prices in your travel destination. Here’s a tip: If all the most popular hotels are booked or prices seem unusually high, there’s probably something happening that’s driving up the demand.
Redefine the Weekend
A weekend trip doesn’t actually have to fall on the weekend. If you shift your days off to midweek, you’ll find lower prices and lighter crowds than if you travel on Saturday and Sunday. Not to mention, you can find great deals on food and drink with weekday happy hour prices. However, traveling midweek does have a downside. Since most people are working, you won’t find as many free local events during the week.
Skip the Hotel
Budget hotels are rarely very interesting. Sometimes, they’re downright sketchy. Rather than staying in another bland hotel room, which can easily cost $100-plus, consider alternative lodging. If you don’t mind sacrificing a little privacy to save money, hostels are a great choice in cities. You can also use vacation rental services to rent an entire house or just a room, depending on your budget. Feeling adventurous? Camping is cheap (sometimes free!), and it’s hard to beat sleeping under the stars on a clear night.
Use Public Transportation
Using public transportation in a new city is a bit anxiety-inducing, especially if you don’t speak the local language. However, if your destination has a good transportation system, public transit is nearly always cheaper and easier than driving. Not only will you skip car rental and fuel fees, you’ll spare yourself the hassle of finding and paying for parking. Bonus tip: If the transit system offers one-day or weekend passes, buy one. Unless you’re sticking around one neighborhood, a pass is cheaper than paying for each trip separately.
Eat Outside Your Comfort Zone
Restaurants that cater to tourists feel inviting and familiar, but they can also be shockingly expensive. Get a taste of the local flavor instead and dine at street carts and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Also, don’t be afraid of menus in another language! Unless you have food restrictions, follow Go! Girl Guide’s advice and simply point at something that looks appetizing, whether that’s a photo on the menu or another patron’s meal.
Finally, watch your spending while you’re away. Calculate how much you can afford to spend on your weekend trip after paying for lodging and travel, then set a strict budget for each day. As tempting as it is to overspend, travel is more enjoyable when you know you can afford it!
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