If you think you can’t afford a vacation, think again. You don’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on lavish resorts to have a good time. I have a few budget travel tips up my sleeve that have helped me save tons of moola on my trips.
1. Plan, Plan, Plan!
The first important budget travel tip I can give is to plan ahead. This may save you from expensive mistakes like booking a room for the wrong days, calling an Uber at the wrong time, or being late for a flight. I recently went on a trip to sunny South Florida, where I enjoyed a week of beaches, clubbing, family, and friends — all for less than $200.
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Staying With Family
How did I do this? Well, first of all, my family was in Florida, so I stayed with them rent-free. Reaching out to family — whether immediate or extended — is an excellent idea.
If your relatives have space and are willing to host you, it is a great way to save money, wherever you are.
For example, this summer I will be traveling all over Europe. So to save on lodging and food expenses, I've reached out to my family members in Germany, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands. This way, I can visit them and get the insider perspective on the places I'm traveling to.
However, I know that for many, the idea of staying with family on vacation sounds horrific. So my man and I are taking off after a few days to stay in one of the many hostels in Europe.
A hostel is a lodging arrangement where you have the option of booking a private room or a shared room. Private rooms range anywhere from $10 to $50 a night, depending on the location and type of room. If you're traveling with a companion, you can even split the costs.
Sites like Hostels.com — and even big names like Booking.com — provide information about hostels all over the world. A quick Google search of hostels in the area where you're going can also help.
Another way I saved during my trip was by booking a room through Airbnb and, again, splitting the cost with my man. We stayed by the beach in Miami and spent $30 each for the night for a total of $60.
It was a beautiful forest home with eclectic decor, and our host was hospitable and sweet. We spent the whole day at the beach and bought some groceries, which took care of lunch, dinner, a snack, and breakfast. Planning pays off!
And don't forget airfare. You can snag great deals by taking advantage of discount travel sites CheapO Air. The site offers round-trip flights for less than $199.
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2. Take a Friend
You know the saying two's company, three's a crowd? Well, it's true not only in three-legged races, but also in travel. By bringing along a friend or significant other, you can minimize costs by splitting them. That said, more than one other person might be a bit too much.
I always travel with another person because it's both cheaper and more fun overall. It's also better for a long-term situation because you can depend on each other for comfort, safety, and even countering homesickness.
However, one word of wisdom (and warning): Make sure that the person you travel with has good vibes, is trustworthy, and communicates well. It's the worst feeling in the world when you have to stay with someone that you hate for the remainder of what’s supposed to be your vacation. Cheers!
3. Take Public Transportation and Bring a Mini Dictionary
With the advent of the internet and Google Translate, people have taken it upon themselves to not learn a language. I fondly remember my two wasted years of high school Spanish when Google Translate was my home page. Looking back, I wish I’d put more effort into it because now I have to carry around a mini dictionary everywhere.
I know what you’re going to say: My phone has data and internet, so I can just look it up, right? But no.
Picture this: You’re in Spain with a 25-pound backpack on your person because someone told you that backpacking was a good idea. Now you’re looking for water because you’re extremely dehydrated and haven’t lost the pounds you put on during freshman year. You check your phone for the nearest place to buy groceries, but alas! Your phone has died, and an outlet is nowhere in sight.
This is when the mini dictionary comes in handy. You walk up to a local with your handy-dandy dictionary and a smug grin. In the best Spanish accent you can muster, you say, “Donde esta el Agua?” The local is so amused by your efforts that he invites you over for dinner with the family. Boom! You have new friends and free dinner. You’re welcome.