How to vacation on a budget
July 28th, 2017 by Felicity Bradstock
You suddenly have a whole summer ahead of you, you can finally breathe! Finals are over and you have so much free time you don’t know what to do with yourself. Friends are visiting home and planning their vacations, but how do they all have the money to do these things? It’s not easy, however, with a few simple steps you can stretch the last of your yearly budget to take a break this summer. So, take a vacation on a budget and forget all the studying and exams until next semester.
There are several ways you can save money on your vacation. To travel on a budget think about doing some research on your destination, managing expectations and planning. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Take your time
Never go for the first flight you find, always check out comparison sights such as Kayak and SkyScanner to see which are the cheapest routes, if a layover will reduce the cost of the flight or if there are budget airlines offering the same flights.
You have a whole summer ahead of you, so instead of rushing in to planning a trip a few days in advance do your research, look at airline websites to see when they have special promotions or sales and try to book during these times. If you’re not sure where you want to go then check out the cheapest flight routes and promotions to get you started, you might discover something you never knew existed.
You can save a fortune simply by being flexible. Most people tend to set a specific date and fit their search criteria to fixed expectations. This limits the outcome and often increases the price of the flight. Most websites allow you to select the option of +/-2 days when searching for a flight. By adapting your schedule to the flight availability, you can often reduce the cost of your trip by booking less popular flights. Now that school’s over you don’t have to fly Friday night to Sunday, meaning that you’re holding the winning hand. You can take those cheaper weekday 1pm flights that most people don’t have the right schedule to take.
In a home
Let’s be realistic, you probably won’t be staying in a 5* hotel on your vacation if you want to eat, drink and explore while you’re away. Alternatives such as AirBnB are a lifesaver. AirBnB allows you to rent a room in a great location with the only compromise of sharing a bathroom or kitchen. If you rent with a friend you can even split the price of the room between 2, massively reducing the cost. The filters are excellent, making the search for your stay straightforward and easy to fit around your criteria. Additionally, you can check out previous reviews and the rating of the host to make sure you feel safe and secure during your stay.
Just because you can’t stay in a high-end hotel doesn’t mean you can’t find a good compromise. Check out Booking.com for some incredible promotions on anything from dorms in hostels to hotels with breakfast and a pool. Other great sites include Expedia and Trivago, which offer both hotel comparisons and package trips with great promotions. Take a look around, and once you find a place you like compare between each of these websites to see which has the best deal.
If you’re away with friends you’re likely to eat out a lot, which can be scary and make you think you always have to go for the soup or salad. There are 2 easy ways to avoid this, the first is by renting an apartment to share with your friends. By using AirBnB or local websites in your destination you can often find a place with a kitchen to cook in the apartment. I’m guessing you won’t want to stay in the whole time, but at least you can cook breakfast and keep snacks and drinks in the fridge.
If you don’t have this option then just do your research in advance. Get a guidebook or look online at Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Trip Advisor or Time Out to avoid the tourist traps. Think about alternatives to restaurants such as markets, where you can often buy fresh ingredients and eat outside. Besides, what’s the point in a vacation if you can’t enjoy the outdoors?
Some costs you won’t be able to avoid. However, by doing some research in advance you can often save a lot. Find out the best museums and galleries for students – most countries have reductions on tickets for people under the age of 25. Look for outdoor activities such as parks, gardens and festivals. Also, when at the beach, find areas where you can take your own food and drinks. Avoid paying for deck chair rental by taking a towel or blanket to lay on and make the most of the outdoors.
Wherever you choose to go on your vacation this summer, make sure you explore the local culture and traditions, take in your surroundings (simply walking around a city all day can uncover some great surprises and help you stumble across hidden gems), and enjoy your break from college.