Your trip is booked and you’re ready to go! Before you take off on that much-needed vacation, take a look at a few quick tips for staying on budget as you plan for upcoming travel.
Pay With (and Earn!) Points
If you’ve been collecting travel points on a credit card, consider using them to pay for some or all of your vacation expenses. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough points to redeem—use your vacation as an opportunity to earn more! Many credit cards offer bonus points on purchases related to travel, including plane tickets, hotel bookings, taxis, tours and more. Paying with a card also takes away the hassle of exchanging currency if you’re traveling overseas, but be sure to check your guidebook as there are some destinations where restaurants and retailers prefer cash.
Buy Less Before the Trip
As excitement builds for an upcoming trip, you may find yourself eager to hit the mall for new clothes and supplies. Be wary! Most of what you need for travel, you probably already have. Other items may be cheaper once you arrive, especially if you’re visiting a destination that’s different from your current climate. Get sunscreen, a swimsuit and flip-flops once you’re already at the beach. If you’re headed somewhere cold, bring the warmest clothes you have. If you arrive and find you need more layers or a warmer coat, visit a local thrift store which will likely be overstocked with that you need, and selling it for a cheaper price than what you’d find at home.
Rent Out Your Home
If you’re headed out for an extended period of travel, consider putting your home on AirBnB, VRBO or a similar service. It’s a good way to make some money well you’re gone, and you’ll be helping out a fellow traveler. If you’re not comfortable with a complete stranger coming into your space, you could also take the old fashioned route and simply ask friends and family if they know anyone who’s looking to rent a place. Just make sure your home is in good condition and that all your valuables are safely stored.
Steer Clear of Cabs
The cost of taxis, rideshares and car rentals can add up fast. Why spend the cash on a car when many desirable destinations have excellent public transportation? Research your options before the trip and make a plan to use buses, trams or the metro as much as possible. Many cities also offer a special tourist ticket that combines an all-access pass to public transportation with entrance to local museums or other tourist sites. See what’s available before you arrive, learn how and where to buy public transport tickets, and you’ll be less tempted by the taxi queue.
Make Your Own Meals
Experiencing the local cuisine is a wonderful part of travel, but it can eat up your travel budget fast. Along with eating out, try to make some of your own meals. Look for accommodation with kitchen facilities or at the very least, a refrigerator. Oatmeal or simple sandwiches work well for a hotel breakfast. For lunch, do as the locals do and see what’s available at the grocery store: whether it’s supermarket sushi in Japan, or rye bread with cheese in Scandinavia. In the end, by making a few meals of your own, you might end up having an even more authentic dining experience!
Find the Freebies
Many museums have specially designated free days once per week or month, so check these out and plan your tour schedule around which days are the least expensive. Plus, don’t forget that museums aren’t the only place to see art and history: check out local churches and libraries too, where you’ll often find architecture, art and history on par with what’s behind glass in a nearby museum. For free performances, check neighborhood event pages on social media or ask the locals if there are any good restaurants that host free live music. Of course, look up free walking tours: most cities have them. Finally, if you come across any street performances, make it a point to stop and enjoy the show! And when your budget allows, toss the artist a few coins in thanks for this completely free entertainment.