Limited travel during the pandemic has amplified our wanderlust and travel dreams for destinations both near and far. While building upon your travel dreams, it can feel defeating when you start to think about costs—flights, accommodations, food and more! Have no fear, your travel dreams do not need to be crushed. There are many options to consider for an affordable vacation.
While you are exploring online and beginning the planning process, use these budget travel tips for your upcoming vacation without feeling like you are cutting things short.
First things first, set a budget.
Traveling on a budget is possible. You don’t need to break the bank just to make your travel dreams a reality.
While researching online, reading articles and scrolling social media for the best travel ideas are a great start to your travel plans, so is being realistic about your budget.
If you’re new to budgeting, consider using the built-in budgeting feature in Verve’s online banking, or meet with a financial coach at Verve to help set budgeting goals. Understand where you are at currently with your finances and create goals for where you’d like to be in the future. If travel is important to you, be sure to discuss that to ensure it fits into your financial goals and budget.
As you develop your budget, you’ll likely also create a corresponding timeline. Set goals for your budget and determine how much money you’ll need to save in order to build the budget needed for your vacation dreams.
Upon understanding your current financial picture and creating a realistic budget, there are many travel tips to consider to make your budget go even further.
Select less popular destinations.
Selecting your destination is definitely one of the biggest steps in your vacation planning, and sometimes the most challenging as it can be hard to select one location. Where you travel can greatly impact your overall travel budget.
Make note of destinations that are currently more popular than others as costs will be higher at popular destinations. If you already have a destination in mind, consider researching similar alternatives that might be less popular and cheaper destinations.
For instance, instead of one of the most popular wine enthusiast destinations—Napa Valley, California—consider nearby Santa Ynez Valley about two hours north and a lesser cost for accommodations and wine, too! Or, are you considering an exotic destination such as the Maldives with its picturesque beaches? Check out the Philippines. The beaches are just as beautiful, and costs—including flights—tend to be much less expensive.
Travel during the off-season.
As you review and select your travel destination, considering when you will travel can greatly impact your budget. Traveling during the off-season, when tourism is down, can typically always lead to cheaper rates.
Travel during peak season is expensive. But, always remember – off-peak seasons change around the world and vary by destination. Do your research. For example, popular ski destinations will reach peak season in the middle of winter, when snow is best and ski runs are pristine for skiers and snowboarders alike. These destinations tend to offer a variety of other great amenities, even without snow. You’ll be able to save money by traveling when tourism is lighter and explore a different side of these popular destinations, too.
Another timing consideration—holidays. Observed holidays and even school breaks (think spring break) tend to be popular travel times when you can expect prices to skyrocket. Beach destinations in the southern United States are often flooded with tourists during spring break (March or April) as people try to escape to warmer weather during their week break. If these are places you’re considering visiting, explore less busy dates when crowds will be smaller and prices even less.
Be sure to also keep the weather of your destination in mind. Avoid traveling to destinations during periods where they typically experience severe storms (such as hurricanes!).
You really can save on flights.
Flight prices change often. When looking for ways to stretch your travel budget even further, shop around and compare rates when booking airfare. Travelers who are flexible on their travel dates can typically find better prices for flights. When conducting your search, compare rates for days before or after your travel dates. You might be surprised at the rates available if you are able to adjust your dates of travel.
Another option is to compare options with other nearby airports. It may make more sense to travel by car in order to save money, sometimes hundreds of dollars! Larger airport hubs will typically offer better flight options and also cheaper rates.
Don’t forget, flight rates change daily. Most airlines will open flights about one year in advance. Prices may tend to be lower the further out you book travel. It is common to see flight prices spike on days leading up to the requested travel dates. You might try tracking flight prices before you make your final selection for air travel to see which dates are more likely to be cost-effective for your travel budget.
Explore accommodation options.
Prices and options for travel accommodations can differ greatly based on your destination. Larger chain hotels tend to be more expensive but might offer the amenities you desire. If you crave an authentic experience that is closer to the locals, you may find appealing options that are closer to a limited travel budget.
Another option to consider is rentals such as through popular sites like Airbnb or VRBO. Hostels or bed and breakfasts are another option if available at your vacation destination. If you are even more adventurous, consider camping alternatives, too.
When trying to make your budget go further on vacation, eat where the locals eat, not at tourist-centered eateries. Don’t be afraid to ask around. Tap into your driver or concierge about the places locals prefer, not tourists. Since they are locals, where do THEY prefer to visit? These first-hand recommendations will likely lead to amazing authentic cuisine during your travels.
Consider shopping at local markets where you can purchase authentic merchandise and where money goes directly to local artisans or vendors.
And explore free attractions. You’ll find excellent places to explore in any city and, likely, there are some attractions that are free – especially when outdoors.
Consider all-inclusive packages for fixed cost options
Bundling your travel—including flights and hotels, for example—might make more financial sense for a better collective price. Or, have you looked into all-inclusive travel options? By going this route, you’ll know what to expect upfront instead of tracking your money throughout the entire vacation.
For more tips for your next unforgettable vacation, check out our travel tips blog or review our creating a budget blog for ideas to help you develop your travel budget. Traveling on a budget is possible. As you begin the process to determine your upcoming vacation plans, set up a Pick Your Payout or Name Your Savings account to help you stay committed to building a realistic budget to make your travel dreams a reality.