May 29, 2023

How to stick to your budget when travelling

By Véronique Harvey

5 tips for spending less and, most importantly, sticking to your budget while travelling.

Travelling is all about freedom and discovery. Discovering new landscapes, new flavours and new cultures is why many of us set off on journeys. However, these trips are not free. On the contrary, you can arrive home to hefty bills.

To ensure that finances won’t clip your wings, you should have a plan. You can avoid spending unnecessarily and will be better equipped to stick to your budget.

Here are five tips for saving money when travelling.

1. Find cheap airline tickets

Airline ticket prices hit record highs over the past few months. And it doesn’t look like they’ll drop any time soon. The main reasons are a lack of personnel and sky-high fuel costs. However, demand is still high. People are eager to travel after two years of lockdown. The law of supply and demand is behind inflated prices.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average price of flights increased by 25.6% between January 2022 and January 2023. There was a similar increase during the previous year. Currently, the price of flights linking Montreal and Europe has doubled compared to last year.

However, you can still find flight deals. You just have to know how, when and where to look for them. Among other things, we recommend that you:

  • Search for flights using Google Flights.
    This search engine has a range of filters that do the work for you. And you can save a few dollars at the same time.

  • Shop for airline tickets before finalizing your vacation dates.
    This will give you more options. You can find cheaper alternatives.

  • Avoid travelling during peak times.
    If possible, avoid summer trips. If you can travel in May or wait until September or October to travel, you’ll find much lower prices. Otherwise, you must book several months in advance.

  • Choose flights on specific days.
    Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are the cheapest days to fly. If you can, choose outbound and return flights on those days.

  • Select your travel destination based on ticket prices.
    Can’t decide between different destinations? Choose the one that offers the lowest flight prices.

Shopping around to get the best flight prices is important.

2. Low-cost accommodation

When travelling, you can sacrifice comfort in order to save money. This is where youth hostels come into play. Despite the name, they’re not just for young people. Hostel dormitories are certainly not for everyone. However, most youth hostels have private rooms. And they cost much less than a hotel room.

In addition to the price, another great advantage of hostels is access to a shared kitchen. You can take advantage of fridges, pots and pans, utensils and dishes. In short, everything you need to cook your own meals. This is another great way to save.

Many hostels also have shared libraries where you can borrow books, board games and films. Very convenient!

So you don’t like the idea of staying in a youth hostel? Why not choose to rent an apartment on Airbnb, for example! These apartments also offer access to a kitchen. And the rates are generally lower than hotels. Especially if you’re travelling in a group.

3. Limit your restaurant visits

Your food budget can quickly disappear if you eat three meals a day in restaurants. Naturally, discovering local dishes is an integral part of every trip. But does lunch or dinner in a chain restaurant really add to your travel experience? No! You can save about $15 per meal by going to the supermarket.

Eating a croissant and a banana for breakfast is a very economical option. Neither require refrigeration and they cost next to nothing. A sandwich on the go or a meal from a street truck for lunch will keep your budget in check. By doing this, you’ll be able to afford dinner at a popular local restaurant.

Certain establishments also offer better deals at lunchtime. So you could opt for an elaborate lunch and then a lighter dinner.

4. Take advantage of promotions and discounts

An increasing number of sites offer discounts on reservations. An online search for “city name + discount” is a good starting point. A little research and planning can save you a lot of money on sightseeing or a night out at a restaurant.

So you’re interested in an activity, but the advertised price seems high? There’s no reason why you can’t call and see if promotions or discounts for seniors or groups are available.

5. Don’t count every cent

Don’t forget that travelling is fun. Sticking to your budget is important, but adventures are about much more than cost. Deciding not to visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris because it’s expensive would be crazy!

Certain days will cost more than expected. But you’ll also spend afternoons strolling on the beach. Mornings in a park reading a book you picked up at a flea market. Days where you snack on affordable local fruits and vegetables from the market. And that will balance your budget.

Before you set off, don’t forget to take out travel insurance. It helps protect you against unforeseen medical expenses. It also provides support if your important documents are lost or stolen. Plus, interpreters can help you communicate in an emergency. In short, add travel insurance to your list and travel with peace of mind!

Speak to a Sun Life advisor about your travel insurance options.

With the right advice, you can do more with less!

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