Travel has a reputation for being expensive. And it certainly can be if you feel it necessary to go first-class all the way. But it’s also possible to travel on a budget. You just have to be vigilant about finding the best prices on everything.
Here are some tips that will allow you to travel without spending a small fortune.
* Find the best deals on flights, hotels and car rentals. Sites like LastMinute.com and Travelocity.com are great for finding deals on these travel essentials. But it’s also a good idea to check with individual airlines and hotels, too. Sometimes they offer deals that you won’t find on such sites.
* Consider traveling by train. It’s less expensive than flying, and you’ll experience fewer security delays. The biggest disadvantage is that it will take you longer to get where you’re going.
* When traveling to a foreign country, do some research on exchange rates. Your best bet is usually to withdraw money from your bank account at an ATM, but different ATMs offer different exchange rates. You’ll also pay some fees to the bank that owns the ATM, and probably your bank as well. Try to find out how much these fees are in advance so you’ll be prepared.
* Consider a traveler’s cheque card. These cards are not linked to your bank account and will be replaced if they are lost or stolen. You’ll have to pay an issuance fee, but withdrawal fees are often lower than those charged by banks.
* Avoid eating in restaurants for every meal. Most hotels include a breakfast of some sort with a room rental, so you can take advantage of that in the morning. If you can get a room with a kitchen, you can cook your own lunch and dinner. Or you could take along some bread and sandwich meat and pack picnic lunches.
* Take vacations in the off-season. If you’re going to a theme park with a small child, for example, plan your trip for the spring or fall. If you check with the ticket office, you’ll often find that admission is discounted. And the school-aged children will be in school, so it will also be much less crowded.
* Consider vacation packages. Travel agencies offer packages that include travel, accommodations, car rental, admission to popular attractions and more for one low price. Some packages even come with gift certificates to restaurants and shops, so you can eat and get souvenirs at no additional charge.
If you’re on a tight budget, travel might seem out of reach. But if you are willing to spend some time finding the best deals, you might be surprised at what you can afford.