Have you taken a vacation this year? If the answer is no, what held you back? For most Americans, it comes down to budgeting and feeling like you can never quite afford a getaway. A trip away should be fun and rejuvenating, not cause for financial stress. Just because your friends post beautiful photos of their voyages on Instagram and Facebook doesn’t mean they paid huge sums to travel. If you're looking to book travel plans without breaking the bank, follow these five tips.
Tip #1: Travel in the Off-Season
At certain times of the year, it's possible to score major deals on some vacation destinations. For instance, in the wintertime, everyone wants to escape the cold and hit the beach. If you want to travel somewhere chilly, like Canada, you can probably do it for much less. Nearly every tourist destination has an "off-season." You'll want to look into important considerations like how the weather will be, what attractions will still be open and how costs differ.
Tip #2: Skip the Hotel
All-inclusive resorts can be great, but for some travels, it may not be worth the extra money to stay at one. If you're looking to travel on a budget, consider other lodging marketplaces like Airbnb, VRBO and other similar search sites. These marketplaces offer a wide variety of rooms, from a single bedroom rental to entire homes and villas. This can be a cost-effective way to room, especially if you're sharing the cost with multiple travelers.
Tip #3: Make Your Own Meals
If you’re staying in a rental house, you might have access to a full kitchen. That'll make it all the easier for you to cook for yourself and save money throughout your trip. Depending on where you're staying, you may be able to have groceries delivered to your rental home upon your arrival. Or, you may find yourself near local food markets and vendors with fresh food for a reasonable price. Cooking for yourself is almost always a more cost-effective option than eating out, especially when on vacation.
Tip #4: Shop Around for Flights
Rather than heading directly to each airline's website and doing your search, use flight comparison sites. These sites compile offerings from all the major and discount airlines, allowing you to compare flight times, legs of the trip and cost all in one place. Shop around and compare quotes, keeping in mind that Tuesday is generally the best day to book airline travel. You may score better deals if you wait until closer to your trip rather than booking many months in advance, although this runs the risk of encountering a full flight. Many travel experts agree you should book 25 days in advance, but not further out than 150 days to score the best deals.
Tip #5: Setup Alerts to Get the Best Travel Deals
When shopping around for flights, hotels and other packages, most travel sites will allow you to set up "travel alerts." Simply search the flight you are looking for (New York to Rome for instance) and add in your dates. Then ask to be "alerted" when the price drops. Airfarewatchdog, Google Flights, Orbitz, Travelocity and most other major travel search engines all have this feature, making it much easier to score the best deal with little-to-no effort on your part.
If you really want to treat yourself to a vacation this year, you can make it happen without blowing your budget. All you need is some patience, flexibility and an open mind.
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