Travel enriches our lives and opens our eyes to new cultures and possibilities. It can also be costly. Between flights, hotels, and activities, travel expenses can add up fast, particularly if you’re traveling with family. These high costs can severely limit your travel options or keep you from traveling at all.
However, it is entirely possible to have an unforgettable vacation on any budget. You don’t have to eat at fancy restaurants for every meal or visit the most expensive attractions to get the most out of your travel experience. With a little planning, you can easily get the most out of your next vacation without breaking the bank. Here are a few tried-and-true tips to let your money work for you:
Swapping homes is possibly the best way to live like a local in any location, and HomeExchange makes it easier than ever to connect with like-minded travelers around the world. List your home on the website, browse and chat with other travelers, and make a plan to exchange homes for however long you want to visit. You’ll save tons of money by avoiding expensive hotels and will have more space for yourself and your family than you would in a hostel or staying with family. Your Exchange Partner might even be willing to swap cars, making getting around while traveling easier. The added perk is that you’ll meet someone who knows the area you’re visiting well and likely knows some of the best spots to visit off the beaten path.
Spending an hour of your precious vacation time in the grocery store probably sounds like the last thing you want to do. Eating every meal in a restaurant is an easy way to blow your budget fast, though. You can save a bunch of money by buying breakfast food and sandwich fixings at the local market early on in your trip. Packing a sandwich and snacks in the morning will keep you from spending a ton of money on overpriced food while you’re out and about. If you are a “foodie” and eating out is a big part of your travel experience, plan which meals you’ll have at restaurants before your trip, then grocery shop accordingly.
There are so many free and inexpensive ways to see sights and have fun while traveling. If you’re visiting a city, parks, markets, and even some museums are free and a great way to get a taste of the culture. A great way to get your bearings when you first arrive in a city is through a free walking tour offered by companies like Sandemans. Other activities such as hiking, biking and visiting the beach are all great, inexpensive ways to get in touch with nature. If there’s a pricey attraction that you must experience, build it into your itinerary, and fill the rest of your schedule with free activities to offset the cost.
While this mostly applies to cities, you can save a ton of money by forgoing taxis and rental cars and using public transportation to get around. Some people even prefer it! Subways and buses are generally inexpensive, accessible to people with disabilities, and can take you anywhere you need to go. Just make sure to do your research ahead of time, as some public transportation systems are more extensive than others. You want to make sure you can get where you need to go before eschewing cars entirely. Apps like CityMapper, Google Maps, and Transit can help you figure out exactly where to go and how long it will take you to get there.
Those tempting little trinkets at the souvenir shop can eat up your travel budget fast, so you want to have a plan before you open your wallet. Before you go, think about the things you want to bring home. If you have an idea of what you want to buy, or for whom you want to shop, you’ll be able to figure out how much you can afford to spend in the shops. If you can, always haggle for the best price. You never know how much you can save.
Proper preparation can not only help you save money on your trip, but it can also help you have a fuller, more vibrant experience. You can even put the money you save on one adventure towards a future exchange! Give these tips a try on your next getaway and don’t forget to share your favorite money saving tricks in the comments below.