- Keep your Destination Options Open
One of the best ways to plan a trip on a budget, or even plan an expensive trip but make sure you’re getting the most for your money, is by keeping your options open regarding your destination and length of your trip. The longer the trip does not necessarily mean more costly, and you can actually find great deals to cheaper destinations for stays of 1 or 2 weeks long for the cost of a 3 day trip to New York.
The Black Forest, Germany
- Budget – decide on one from the beginning
Decide on a budget from the very beginning and then see how far it will get you. Realistically, if you have, say, around $1000.00 to spend, you could probably hit up a major Canadian or American city for 3 to 5 days, or go on an all-inclusive vacation to Cuba, Jamaica, or Mexico for 1 week. If you have about $2000.00 – $3000.00 dollars to spend, you’re looking at being about to go on a road trip of the southern states, backpacking through Europe for a couple of weeks, or splurging on a 1 or 2 week luxury cruise.
Sitting on a cliff, Malta
- When to Travel?
Out of season traveling isn’t always the best way to save money – well sure, you may save some money (maybe a couple hundred bucks), but you will miss out on the vibe and other fun things that may be going on during a more popular season. Also, weather is a big one. A $600.00 trip to Cuba in January may sound like a sweet deal, but you’d better pack a sweatshirt and jeans because chances are you won’t be able to hit the beach every day… Yay.. So fun! If you have to travel out of high travel season, pick destinations that are always hot (countries closer to the equator), or countries who’s weather remains constant (in Ireland, it rains all the time—so, doesn’t really matter when you go!).
St. Paddy’s Day, Dublin
- Shop Around
Allowing yourself enough time to shop around is mega important. Look into booking directly with the hotel as they will sometimes have better deals than sites like Booking.com.
The wonderful Les Jardins sur Glantine B&B in Poligny, France
I read an article by LifeHacker.com a few years back and they stated that the best time to begin looking for deals for domestic flights is around 45 days from your ideal departure time, and 60 days out for international travel. Now, I’ve found this to be true. I also have found that looking around the 3 week mark for international travel to be really great too if not traveling right at Christmas or New Years.
The terrifying Fire Festival, Barcelona
For deals on trains in Europe, book directly with the operators whether it be SNCF or Thalys for France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, or Deutche Bahn for Germany, Italia Rail for Italy, and Renfe for Spain… (the list goes on).
Getting photobombed by my friends, Barcelona
- Sign up for Memberships or Rewards Programs with Hotel providers.
Holiday Inn’s rewards membership program is great! They also treat you better at the hotel if you hold a Holiday Inn membership and get perks sometimes like late check-out if you ask. Hotels.com has less hotels than booking.com but they give you do a 10th night free based on the average amount of money you spent on the first 10 nights. You just need to look around!
Watching Eiffel Tower Fireworks on Bastille Day, Paris
- DIY Package, but keep it simple
Finally, building your own customized package can often help you save a few dollars if you are smart and keep things simple. For example, don’t make it too complicated. If your all-inclusive package gives you the option of airport to hotel transfers for just $25.00 per person, check trip advisor or taxicab fairs first. In Jamaica they wanted us to add $25.00 for transfers to and from the airport for 2 of us when the hotel was just a $10.00 taxi cab ride away from the airport! Cab all the way – private cab too, no waiting around for more people to board a bus… I want to get my tan on NOW!
Riu Montego Bay, Jamaica
Also, sometimes packages (especially for tours around Europe) will put you up in bad hotels or hotels out of the city centre to bring their costs down. Say no! Purchase your lovely train pass and then look for hotels yourself. Take the time to search online for the best places to stay depending on your style of living. Hostels in Europe are amazing. I always have a wonderful time and meet great people. A lot of things like dinners and tours are free or very cheap! Hostelworld.com is a wonderful resource for finding hostels and getting real reviews. (Shout out to Blackswan Hostel in Barcelona !) Don’t forget to check out the hostel’s own website as sometimes they don’t advertise all of their room options or promotional pricing on those 3rd party websites.
I hope this post will be useful to you all! 🙂 xoxo