It seems that 2019 will be the year of travel and with all the options at your disposal, it's easy to see why. What was once thought of as a luxury and something that only those with large salaries can afford has become simple enough for everyone with a bit of saving and determination. Travel is just as much a hobby now as it is a luxury and a trip can be booked easily within just a few minutes. This is what has allowed the passion the transcend generations and become something that's now loved by all ages.
Even if you think there's no hope for you in 2019, don't despair! We have some tips and tricks for even the most unversed of traveler. The easy part is saving up and planning, the tough part is deciding where to go and what to spend your money on once you get there. We've also compiled some helpful advice for transportation as well, whether you're open to flights, train, bus, or even travel via car. None of this needs to be stressful and you'll learn quickly that with a few tricks of the trade, you'll be able to save some money in the process, too.
As long as you have an open mind and a passion for travel despite where it is, you'll gain something from this article. Some of these tips might sound familiar while others could open up a whole new world of adventure for you.
25 Start Saving ASAP And Follow A Plan
The one thing there's no shortage of on the internet is Pinterest ideas. While the site might overhype DIY projects quite a bit, there's no shame in using it to find a money-saving plan that works for you. If you take the time to set aside a jar or box and add ten or even five bucks to it every week, then after six months you'll have between $130 and $260 by the end of six months. As long as it remains untouched, that's guaranteed money that will put you halfway to a vacation.
24 Do Your Research, And Then Research Some More
The biggest problem travelers run into is their lack of research. Traveling can be something that's done on a whim, but smart traveling is something that has been thoroughly researched and planned out to avoid unexpected surprises. Make sure that you read all the boring fine print, have your passport and identification in order, are aware of money conversions and even gas prices if you're traveling somewhere in your own country via car. Transportation costs, food costs, and tax costs can all be helpful things to know when planning a budget.
23 Dream Vacations Don't Need To Be Out Of Price Range, Pick Up A Virtual Side Job
Remember that five or ten bucks I was talking about saving earlier? Consider the fact that we live in a digital age. All it takes is a quick Google search to find out what money you could be earning by taking surveys, writing a blog, contributing small amounts of research, or sharing social media posts. While there are scams out there, many of them have already been exposed and it's fairly easy to tell the scammers from the legitimate money-making gigs. You won't make a ton of money, but this is a great source of extra income.
22 Be Realistic With Your Time Off
This is especially important if you don't have paid vacations, as many don't. As long as you're realistic with the time you take off -- whether it be a weekend or a full seven days -- you'll be able to research a trip that suits your needs. Oftentimes, it's not the number of days that you're away, but the destination and activities that make a trip feel as though it was worth it. Don't let realism be a bummer... Use it to find a vacation that can be tailored to your exact needs and allow you to experience something new and exciting.
21 Know The Best Sources For Affordable Flights
There are plenty of online resources that can help you find flights that will slide seamlessly into your budget. Of course, international flights will always be more expensive, but looking within your own country will likely always be doable. The most affordable and comparative rates can be found on sites such as Google Flights, Hipmunk, and Invisible Hand. It might also behoove you to check out individual airlines, as many will offer discounted flights depending on booked capacity and off-peak travel times.
20 Plan To Leave On A Weekday Rather Than A Weekend
This is a big one. Off-peak travel times are crucial to finding affordable airfare and transportation, as well as booking hotels, inns, B&Bs, etc. Many of these places not only offer discounted rates during the off-peak season but also on off-peak days. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are your best bets for booking. If you can't get off a majority of weekdays, at least try to fit a Monday and Tuesday in there to save you some money. While the difference might not be much, a little research goes a long way in finding the best deals if you're planning this vacation far enough in advance.
19 Consider Off-Peak Costs
Off-peak ticket sales aren't limited to only trains. Depending on where you're headed on vacation, the seasons make a big difference in travel costs. Many rentals and hotels will lower their prices in the colder months because they see a lack of tourism and this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of that. Similarly, be aware of school schedules and spring breaks. Depending on where you go, prices could skyrocket due to the influx of students to one area. Additionally, public school schedules and holidays are important, because families will always book trips around their children's schedules.
18 Road Trips Aren't Out: Take The Bus Or Amtrak
Ideally, everyone wants to spend less than $400 on round-trip airfare. If you're traveling within the same country, taking a bus might not be the most luxurious or speedy option, but it will allow you to save some money. If you look on the bright side, jumping on a route that has many stops will allow you to explore other destinations along the way and even split up your vacation between areas. If you're taking the train, you're talking less than $150 on a round-trip ticket. Amtrak also has special discounts if you're a member of certain clubs or organizations.
17 Airbnb And VRBO Are Great Options
Rentals have gained popularity because of these two sites. Contrary to popular belief, Airbnb does offer whole-house, cottage, or cabin rentals, depending on where you're traveling. You'll have the option to filter your search by this and if you play your cards right, you could end up renting an entire house or condo for the same cost as a hotel per night. VRBO will also provide these options, with additional features such as "pet-friendly" filters and many more whole-house rentals. If you're nervous, you can always message the host personally to ease your mind and read reviews left by others.
16 Don't Forget About Spending Money, Make A Plan
So, you've booked your flight, found a hotel, and made sure that you can afford it all... But did you remind to put aside money to spend once you get there? Everyone can say that they don't need souvenirs or splurge-worthy food and drink while traveling, but you're really missing out if that's the case. Booking a vacation you can afford is all about not needing to worry once you get there, meaning you've put aside spending money to reduce your stress level and allow for a bit of extra fun. It doesn't need to be much, but just something that allows you to afford spontaneous or Instagram-worthy things is a must.
15 Take Advantage Of Those Benefits Your Credit Card Offers
It's not just nonsense from your credit card company -- They do offer legitimate rewards for those who use and pay their bills consecutively and on-time. Many companies are doing this now in an effort to encourage people to sign up. If you're not a huge spender, this is a great chance for you to invest in something that will reward you in the long-term. If you get approved for a rewards program through your credit card, use it to pay for small things such as grocery shopping, a new kitchenware set, gas every once in a while, dinner out, etc.
14 Check Out Vacation Packages Such As Groupon
It might be tough to believe, but Groupon offers some excellent travel deals. While you'll need to work to save up money for extras once on vacation, many of their packages include airfare, meals, and hotel accommodations. If you need to alter an airport location, don't be afraid to call them and see if there's an extra fee for this. Plenty of vacations on there are $499 and below and you can sign up to receive alerts when one goes on sale. Plenty of travel sites offer their own packages as well, so it can't hurt to sign up for those alerts, too.
13 Some Airlines Auction Off Upgrades
If you've already decided on a destination but are struggling with airfare, check out this option. Many airlines have started "auctions" which mean that as your travel date nears, they'll sell upgraded seats and amenities for cheap. While this is not the case with every airline, it's easy enough to find those that do offer this promotion. This could save you money while also giving you a seat boost that's much-needed for those who are already nervous about flying. This is also a great way to afford airfare without paying full price.
12 A Pros/Cons List Will Help Determine What To Splurge On
We're throwing it back quite a bit with this one. In order to travel, you do need to be just as much of a planner as a doer. While pro/con lists might seem like an outdated thing of the past, they really serve a purpose here. If you have a destination in mind or even a few, make a pro/con list for both. Include places you're keen on visiting and those prices, foods you'd like to try and those likely prices, as well as whether or not ritzy hotel or transportation accommodations are in the cards for you. This will help sort out both how much you'll need as well as what you can skip.
11 Not All Tourist Packages Are A Scam
If you're going to New York City, stay away from the Empire State building. If you're traveling to Salem, MA, be sure to sign yourself up for the historical witch tour. Knowing the difference between what's worth it both economically and personally can make a huge difference in your budget. Many places in Europe also offer tours, and it's really up to you what you deem worth it. Will it make a difference if you pay for a personal tour vs. visiting a place yourself? Does it matter if you walk the grounds of a castle rather than pay an arm and a leg to get into it? These things matter.
10 Take Advantage Of Hotel Amenities
Call ahead or check the website of the hotel or inn that you're staying out to see what they offer for free. If you can get things such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc., there, then that's a whole $25 you're likely saving. This might not seem like much until you've spent it and can't bring it on the plane, or want to splurge on food and don't have an extra $25 to do so. Putting aside your worries and putting your trust in your booking accommodations can save you bits of money in strange places.
9 A Few Smartphone Apps Might Save You Stress
Just to name a few, apps such as Hopper, Culture Trip, DuoLingo, RoadTrippers, and Citymaps are excellent options that will save you time and stress on your travels. These can be especially important if you're visiting a foreign country, as you're likely not proficient in their language, transportation systems, and roads, or aware of every restaurant at your disposal. These apps can solve those problems in a pinch or at least point you in the right direction. Many similar apps are free and come at no cost to use.
8 Follow Resort, Hotel, And Attraction Pages On Social Media
What's one thing that everyone loves? Discounts and deals, of course! By following the social media accounts of the transportation services, hotels, and attractions you plan to visit, you can be privy to the inside scoop. Many of these pages will raffle off special discounted rates or amenities that you could have access to. Additionally, this is a great way to find out about coupon codes and price drops. Signing up for email lists is also a great way to stay up to date on all of this great info.
7 Don't Discard Destinations In Your Own Country
Let's get one thing straight: The term "travel" coexists just as much in your own country as it does internationally. You don't need to be a well-bred international traveler in order to go on vacation and experience something new. Every country holds its surprises, and you might be shocked to find out that yours holds some interesting destinations. Don't be afraid to tighten your travel circle a bit and settle for an in-country destination that feels foreign to you, because it might just be the best (and most affordable) trip you'll go on.
6 More Tourists Mean Higher Costs, Follow The Road Less Traveled
A money-saving tip is to avoid high concentrations of tourists. Anywhere that large groups of people are heading are likely tourist traps or overrated destinations. While this doesn't apply to everything, it's good advice when it comes to visiting popular hot spots. By exploring underrated locations and getting the inside scoop from the locals, you might find a greater appreciation for the place you're visiting. You also may find that you stumble upon an adventure or once in a lifetime opportunity that would normally be missed by following the crowd.
5 Go With A Group And Split Costs
This one is obvious. If you're not opposed to traveling with family or friends, there's no shame in traveling with a group. Splitting costs is a great way to afford a trip without paying for the whole thing yourself, and you may even get a deal on it with with a larger group. Once you arrive, you can all stay in the same place but break off to have your own individual adventures. Traveling with a group is often safer as well, providing you with freedom and independence without feeling like you're completely alone in a new place.
4 If You're A Member Of Something, Discounts Might Apply
As mentioned before with Amtrak, members of organizations such as AAA, AARP, or veteran-related organizations may have access to better deals. Depending on what you belong to, you might find that you get a slight discount or some money off tickets or airfare. It's worth looking into and if you have the option to become a member of one of these things, it's worth it to get the perks -- As they'll come in handy in your day-to-day life as well. All of a sudden, you'll start applying discounts to everything based on one membership.
3 On Your Own, Take A Last-Minute Booking
If you're traveling solo and have the leniency to book a trip somewhat last-minute, this could be a great way to make out like a bandit on deals. Transportation is the likely candidate for this method of taking a vacation, as most hotel bookings only get more expensive the closer they get to a date. If spontaneous vacations are your thing, your best bet is to sign up for alerts from various travel sites and make sure you receive emails about lowered prices on upcoming ticket costs. If they're trying to sell them, you could be the lucky one to land a half-off travel ticket.
2 Scope Out Affordable Restaurants Beforehand
This is a huge money-saving tip. For starters, you should know money conversions before you even finish your final booking process. If you're traveling somewhere in the same country, then this is easy enough to do. Sort through some online recommendations as well as customer recommendations and see what fits into your budget. A bit of research can go a long way and it might even lead you to a lesser-known local spot with great food and service. This will also allow you to keep your budget well in check, as many places have their menus listed online.
1 Don't Be Afraid To Walk Around Or Use Public Transportation
If your travel destination is a city, then your best bet, at least initially, is to hoof it. Speak to the front desk at whichever place you're staying and get direction from them before you head out for the day. Having an itinerary where you can physically map out your goals for the day is also a great option, and you'll save tons of money while getting a bit of exercise in as well. Walking to close attractions can prevent you from unnecessarily spending money, which allows you to save it for the bigger things.
References: lifehacker.com, busybudgeter.com, familyvacationcritic.com, forbes.com, huffpost.com