If you’ve ever booked a trip, you know that it’s not an inexpensive venture. Even if the location is somewhere cheap like, say, Thailand or Costa Rica, the flights, accommodations and excursions can add up to thousands of dollars. However, with a few tricks and stricter budgeting skills, you can book your next getaway without breaking the bank. Here are five tips on how to book a trip on a budget.
Research the location you want to travel to
You might be surprised by how much you save just by looking into the location you’re planning to travel to before booking a trip. Airfare is the most expensive part of any trip, and the destination country can greatly affect pricing. For example, New York City has a high cost of living, whereas Tokyo is much cheaper. Likewise, Hawaii is much more expensive than the Virgin Islands.
While both countries have tropical weather, the differences in the cost of living can have a huge effect on the price of a ticket. Similarly, the time of year you travel can have a huge effect on your budget. For example, if you want to go to Europe in July or August. This is a prime vacation time – you’ll pay a lot more than if you go in the spring. Likewise, the destination matters. For example, peak season in Hawaii is July and August. This is when the weather is warm, but the rest of the country is cold, so the flights to Hawaii are much cheaper than in the spring.
Consider a “stay-cation”
If you’re itching to get out of town but don’t have the money to travel to far-off places, consider staying at home. Just because you’re in your home city doesn’t mean you can’t have a vacation. There are tons of things to do in every major city, and you can even find deals on websites like Groupon or Living Social. Alternatively, you can check out what’s going on in your city. For example, some cities host free outdoor concerts in parks or city squares. Others have free indoor events, like museums or indoor farmers markets.
Try travel apps to find cheap flights and accommodations
If you’re traveling by plane, you’re likely to find the best flight prices through a travel site. However, there are also travel apps like Skyscanner that let you search flights and find the best prices on airfare. Likewise, if you want to stay at a hotel or an Airbnb, there are apps that let you book rooms as well. The best part is that these apps don’t charge a booking fee, so you’re saving money on the booking itself. You can also use apps to find cheap accommodations while you’re at a destination. Airbnb is the most popular app, allowing you to stay at a hostel, bed and breakfast or even someone’s home. Hostel World and Booking are other apps that let you find cheap accommodation.
Stay in hostels or budget accommodations
If you’re staying in a city, you can find some of the cheapest accommodation through hostels or guesthouses. Hostels are especially popular in Europe, where they’re often just dormitories with common areas, bathrooms, and kitchens. You can find these on booking sites like Hostelworld or even on sites like Tripadvisor or Lonely Planet. If you don’t want to stay in a dormitory, you can also look for low-cost accommodations. For example, you can look for a room in a house where the owner is interested in renting out a room to help cover their own rent. Likewise, you can look for bed and breakfasts where the owner lives in the house and rents out rooms, usually a shared bathroom, for a lower price.
Don’t forget the small things
Even if you’re booking a super cheap trip, you can still easily spend a lot just on the little things. For example, if you’re staying in a hostel, you can still spend a lot of money on food, drinks, and activities. If you’re staying in a hostel, you can save money on food by packing your own lunches or bringing snacks from home. Likewise, you can skip the bar and drinks, or drink water to help lower your expenses. If you’re on vacation but don’t want to spend money, there are often free activities as well. Walking around a city, visiting museums, or hiking through nature are all free. If you want to save even more money, consider travelling during low season. You likely won’t have to pay for airfare, hotels, or the excursions you take during low season, which can save you hundreds of dollars.
If you’re looking to travel but don’t have the cash to do it, don’t worry. You can find cheap flights and cheap or free (or even free) accommodations thanks to the internet and travel apps. You can even find cheap things to do in your city. Just remember to research the location you want to travel to before booking a flight. You can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your next trip. And if you want to save even more money, consider a stay-cation or even a house swap. This will allow you to travel without spending money by letting you stay at someone else’s house while they stay at yours.