How to Plan a Vacation on a Budget

Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and stumbled upon pictures of your friends from high school or college going on what seems like fabulous vacations constantly? I have, and I often find myself thinking, how are they affording that? Because I don’t know about you but sometimes I barely have enough money to pay my bills and get gas in my car the same week, let alone take a trip to Europe. So, I decided to investigate and try to plan a trip spending as little money as I possibly can and here are some tips I uncovered.

 

Expedia

I know this one seems obvious, but I honestly have not had better luck with any other travel websites. I have also found that the bundle deals that include the roundtrip plane ticket and the hotel tend to be less expensive than purchasing separately. You may not always find gems, but I’ve found that if you check in every couple days, the deals are constantly updating and you will be able to hop on one right when it becomes available!

Drive

This may not be ideal for every situation, but if you can, try to drive. Driving may take longer but it is significantly less expensive than flying; make it fun! Before the trip create “driving music” CDs, play games, get to know the person you are driving with better, stop when you want to stop, check out cool shops or restaurants in little towns on the way, or listen to an audio book. If you don’t think about the drive as just travel time and you think of it as part of the vacation, it can be a really fun experience!

 

Off-Season

If you are going to fly, do not fly during the busy season. Earlier this week I was checking plane ticket prices for my honeymoon and if we were to leave right after the wedding, plane tickets were upwards of $650. However, if we pushed the honeymoon a couple weeks to mid-January, the plane ticket prices went down to $250; that is $400 less per person. Just pushing our trip out of the busy season and into the off-season saved us $800. The cheapest times of the year to fly according to experts are the first couple weeks of December, the last three weeks in January, and in early February; October also tends to run on the less expensive side. Piggybacking off that, the least expensive days of the week to fly are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, so plan accordingly to save money.

Ditch the Hotel

Over the past couple years, a new type of vacation lodging has emerged, websites like Air BNB and HomeAway have popped up and gained popularity rapidly. These websites allow people to offer their homes for rent to travelers coming to the area; this is often less expensive and sometimes more convenient than staying in a hotel. Staying in someone else’s home while on vacation may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it is worth looking into!   Have any of you tried any of these tips? What do you think?

by Chelsea Hoel

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