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10 Tips for Thrifty Travel

January 12th, 2012 at 02:06 pm

When money is tight, as it has been for many Americans over the last few years, it's easy to get into a cycle of work, work, work, with precious little time for fun. However, the adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" definitely applies here. If you are yearning to see new sights but fear you will never be able to afford it, fear not! Here are 10 tips for traveling on a budget:

1. Think local. You don't have to travel across the country to see new places! I live in Indianapolis, and I find that even a quick trip to Chicago is enough to rejuvenate my senses. I just book a room in one of my favorite Chicago hotels and spend a day or two wandering around the city, seeing new people, places, and things.

2. Save money whenever you can. This way, you will have more money to spend on luxury items such as travel. You can save money by using coupons, scouring the Internet for sales and deals, hitting up the clearance racks and dollar bins at your favorite stores, and living modestly.

3. Don't be afraid to penny pinch. When you are traveling, be as frugal as you can be, so you won't deplete your bank account. Pack your own food whenever possible, look for deals on your hotel and any attractions you decide to visit, and look for free things to do at your destination.

4. Plan your trip for the off-season. If you are traveling to the beach, for example, don't book your trip during Spring Break, as prices will likely be raised to take advantage of the crowds. Research your destination and determine when a less busy time will be to visit, and your trip will be less expensive and stressful.

5. Visit a grocery store once you get to where you're going. It's easy to eat out every day when you're on vacation, but if you take a little extra time to buy some basic grocery items, you will save a ton of money. This works best if you are staying somewhere with a kitchenette, but if not, you can still buy non-perishable goods such as snacks and drinks.

6. Pack light. If you're flying, this will do away with expensive fees for checking luggage. If you're driving, it may help with gas mileage, even if just a little (every little bit helps, right?). Unless you're a clothes horse, you should easily be able to fit a week's worth of clothes in a duffle bag or two.

7. Take it easy on yourself. Don't plan a huge, extravagant trip. This will not only blow your budget out of the water, but it will place undue stress on you, making it more difficult to enjoy yourself. What's the point of a vacation if you spend the entire time being stressed?

8. Leave your plastic at home. To some, this may seem like an impossible feat, but if you plan well, you can pay for everything with cash (or a prepaid credit card), ensuring that you will not overspend. That way, you're not greeted with credit card statements when you return home.

9. While you're at it, leave your car at home. Yes, you heard that right. If you can get to where you're going by plane, train or bus, and use public transportation (i.e., city buses) to get to around, you will be surprised at how much money you save. You can think of your trips around your chosen destination as little adventures, and you will get to know the area much better.

10. Plan as thoroughly as you can, and have back-up plans for your back-up plans. Something unexpected will always come up when you are on vacation. Rather than being caught unaware and potentially having to spend money that you hadn't planned on spending, be sure to have contingency plans for everything. This will make your trip relatively hassle-free, and keep unwanted spending at bay.

As you can see, it is possible to travel, even when you don't think you can afford to. By taking a little extra time to plan your trip, and keeping your finances in mind throughout the planning and execution stages, you will be able to have an enjoyable time while still remaining within your budget. Bon voyage!

3 Responses to “10 Tips for Thrifty Travel”

  1. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    11. Go on service trips with environmental groups such as for trail building, wildlife census, etc.

    12. Hostel!! either use International Youth Hostels or Elderhostel programs.

  2. patientsaver Says:

    13. Choose a destination that offers a big bank for the buck. For instance, many of the museums and other attractions in Wash DC are absolutely free. State and national parks usually have reasonable admission fees and lots to see and do.

  3. Nika Says:

    Go some place far and cheap is another answer.
    We spent 5K in 6 months living very nicely in Sichuan - luxury apartment, eating out 3 times every day, hanging out in teahouses and bars, not pinching pennies and not eating junk from grocery stores.

    Or go places like Vietnam. Beautiful, cheap, great food(including french influenced, if you can't live without coffee and french bread), good diving, beaches, everything for fraction of the cost.

    The key is to stay long to make the cheapness of stay cancel out the cost of airfare.

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