Budget travel – Making the most of your trip on a budget!

One thing that I’ve gotten used to doing, is coming up with a budget. Some bigger then others depending on the trip. This number is your guideline for your trip. Making sure you are picking an adequate budget is the first step. Here are my tips for budgeting for your next travel experience!

Setting a budget, and sticking too it

One of the things I find most important is sticking to what you can afford. Not only does this not financially cripple you, but if you stick to a number that you have thought hard about, it will allow you to plan and save for future trips sooner. When coming up with a budget, look at all of your fixed costs (Places you’re staying and travel expenses). Budget for your meals, and a little extra for the things that may come up.

Eating in the touristy places often is not a good idea

Typically the eateries that are located close to the touristy area’s raise their prices to gouge the travellers. Instead, ask around. Find the places the locals eat. Sometimes going a little bit out of your way will lead you to find a hidden gem. The food will not only be better, but will usually be cheaper as well. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go to the touristy place thats close to where you are, you do need to experience that side of things as well. But get out of your comfort zone, try something new. Don’t travel and eat at McDonalds every night, thats boring.

Find the balance of planning ahead and going with the flow

There needs to be a good balance of things planned ahead, and impromptu plans. On a financial level, knowing about the things that are in the place you are heading, and knowing about how much they cost ahead of time will allow you to budget for these activities. Leaving days on your trip open will allow you to just explore the cities and shops, but to also do things that you discover while you are there. Maybe you are staying at a hotel, and just want a pool day. Maybe there is a local music festival you didn’t know about and would love to attend. Things will always surprise you, so having days available, makes for a more memorable trip. These days that don’t have plans will allow you to save some money as you wont be paying for entry to an attraction.

Use frequent flyer or travel points programs

If you are a jetsetter and fly or travel frequently, make sure you get rewarded for your purchase. Using a travel credit card that gains points per dollar spent, or using an airline rewards program will allow you to gain points and rewards towards future trips. If you often book with the same site or airline, its only a matter of time until you’ve gained a free flight or hotel stay before you know it.

Abusing your hotel room

When you are looking at booking a hotel, kitchenettes can be your best friend. If I’m going to be staying in a city or area for more then a few days, I stop at a local grocery store and grab Milk, cereal, bagels, peanut butter etc. Keeping breakfast and snack foods in your room will save you money and time for your trip. Eating out three meals a day can add up, so having a bowl of cereal and a coffee in your room before heading out, and packing a sandwich for your lunch will keep money free for more important things. Every dollar you save is here can be spent on experiences later!

Look at when your travelling

Picking the time of year for your travel can have a huge impact on how much you spend. Take Disney World for example. If you travel there in the summer or over Christmas, it is considered their peak season. You will easily have to fork out double what you would then if you waited a few weeks. Find the peak season, and stay away from it!

Find travel options

Is flying your best option? Driving might be cheaper and less time consuming? Maybe a train? All of these options need to be weighed when you’re looking at planning your travel. There are instances where a train is more expensive then flying from A to B. Other times, you can get a rail pass for a month, and travel all over for cheaper then a one-way flight on a certain day. Maybe renting a car isn’t the best option if the transit within the city is cheaper and really efficient!

Know what your money is worth

Make sure you know what your dollar is worth around the world. There are places your dollar isn’t worth as much as you think, and if you travel to places where your dollar is worth more you can get more for less. For example, at the time of writing this the Canadian Dollar isn’t worth close to an American Dollar. So a Canadian travelling to the United States, has to spend 1.3 CAD for every 1 USD. This adds up quick.

Find the freebies!

There are going to be free things to do. Its inevitable. Cities like Washington, D.C. have more free things then paid things it seems. The Smithsonian has weeks worth of free museums and memorials. Take the time, do your research and reap the benefits!

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