In today’s economy, you may feel a summer vacation is a luxury you can’t afford. But if you’re willing to plan ahead and step outside your usual routine, you can take that trip of a lifetime and still manage to hold onto a good portion of your money.
That’s what our lives — captured on our blog, The Planet D — are all about!
To get you started on your own adventure, here are some money-saving tips:
1. Travel independently
Packaged tours may be easier to arrange, but you are paying for the convenience. If you are willing to book everything yourself, you will find you can save a lot of money during your travels.
Book your own hotels, eat at local diners, hire local guides and discover the city on foot instead of from a tour bus. Small changes, but you’ll save hundreds of dollars.
2. Choose the right destination
Travel to certain destinations is far more expensive than it is to others. Before you set your heart on a trip to the Maldives, do a little research. You may find you can travel to another equally exciting destination for half the cost. Travel in developing nations can also be another cheaper option. Look for places that have a good infrastructure for independent travel where you can stretch your dollars.
3. Shop around when booking flights
To find a good deal, start by searching the Internet; there are several excellent discount travel sites, so you should compare prices. Arm yourself with all the information you need and then go to a travel agent. Believe it or not, travel agents can usually still find you the best deal.
If you can be flexible on travel dates, even better. Many airlines offer cheaper rates on certain days, so if you can give a window of two to three days, you have a good chance of securing a better deal.
Also, one of the best ways to save money on flights is to accumulate mileage with a travel rewards credit card. Most offer instant bonus rewards for signing up and if you use the same credit card for all your purchases and pay it off each month, you will quickly accumulate rewards.
But don't cheap out on travel insurance. Read the fine print and make sure you have the coverage you need.
4. Use alternative accommodation
Consider hiring a campervan. Many campgrounds in Europe have full amenities including swimming pools, are located near the cities and often have free shuttle service, all for less than €20 per night. In Southeast Asia, beach bungalows can go as low as $10 per night.
Hostels are also becoming more popular outside of the backpacking world, with private rooms more readily available. Don’t count them out, as some hostels have better amenities than many hotels we’ve stayed at in the past.
5. Fly from an alternate airport
Flying from Canada can sometimes be more expensive than flying from a U.S. city. You may save a couple hundred dollars just by flying from the United States. If you live near the border, look for fares on departures leaving from the closest American airport.
Also, while a direct flight is far more comfortable, you will find that allowing for layovers will be much cheaper than flying direct.
6. Determine the cost ahead of time
Before you get into the taxi from the airport, know what the fare should be by doing some research at home and state your destination with confidence. Ask the price and do the calculation before you accept the ride. If the price is way out of line, say no and bargain for a lower rate. Prices can vary, but double and triple the fair amount is unacceptable.
The same can be said for accommodation and tours. It is easy to find information on the Internet on basic hotel costs. If you go into a privately run guesthouse and you are quoted an outrageous price, don’t be afraid to ask for a cheaper deal. In many countries, bartering is normal and expected.
7. Calculate the exchange
I never settle on a price until I calculate the Canadian currency equivalent. Sometimes the price will sound great when quoted in the local currency and then when you convert it later you realize you were greatly overcharged. There’s nothing wrong with pulling out a calculator. It’s much easier to simply punch in a number and show the merchant what you want to pay.
8. Learn the local language
Last but not least, learn a bit of the local language. “Hello,” “thank you” and “goodbye” can go a long way to break the ice.
Being an informed traveler will make you less of a target for scammers. The more you know about your destination, the more money you will save.