We all need a vacation every now and then (though it would be really nice if we can do it often, wouldn’t it?). I’m sure you have all heard the saying all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It is cliché, I know, but it is also very true. If all we do and think about is work, especially if work becomes routine, we get bored. When we get bored, we procrastinate. When we procrastinate, we become disorganized. Then we get stressed.
Going on a vacation makes us more productive, more creative, and happier. There have even been numerous studies on the health benefits of taking a vacation. One of such studies is from the American Journal of Epidemiology where they found increased incidence of heart disease in women who took infrequent to no vacations (eek!).
On the other hand, vacations cost money and prices for basic needs are rising left and right. So, how do you go on a vacation and take advantage of its many benefits without spending an arm and a leg for it?
I want to share with you some tips my family and I use when we travel and, hopefully, these tips will help you save money, too.
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First and foremost, it is important that you plan ahead. Much of the expense of any travel comes from buying airline tickets. So, decide what date you want to go and when, then start watching out for seat sales. To do that, I like to follow airlines on social media and subscribe to their newsletters.
Use frequent flyer miles if you have them. If not, you can still save money by booking your ticket two months in advance than if you do it last minute. Try booking at different times of the day or days of the week, too. Airline ticket prices go up when it is in demand.
Accommodation and Activities
When booking hotels, I often choose one that’s accessible to public transportation. It just makes getting around easier. Two websites I would recommend for booking hotels are Agoda and Booking.com. They both have tens of thousands of accommodation listings from around the world, so you can conveniently compare prices from different companies and choose one that would best fit your needs.
Another great website is Viator. You can book activities and tours through them. What’s great about Viator is that since they are a TripAdvisor company, when you click through to a destination on the website, you can see both the general info as well as experiences of people who have already travelled there.
We try to eat like a local as much as we can. That means that we avoid tourist eating spots. I’m a big fan of street food and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. They can keep their price down because they don’t spend too much on, say, ambience like other big name restaurants.
If your accommodation allows cooking, then by all means cook whenever you can. Visit the local supermarket and buy your ingredients there. Check out food and travel forums and ask for recommendations before you travel, so you can plan your meals.
We usually do a lot of walking and touring on our vacations, so we always pack snacks and water. We refill our water bottles at water fountains when we run out. It keeps us from going hungry until lunch or dinnertime.
Walking is still the best way of getting around in my opinion. It costs nothing and you get some exercise as well. But if you must commute, take public transportation and avail of multi-use transit passes, which are usually sold at discounted rates that you can use for a specific period of time.
Uber and Lyft (or Grab if you’re traveling to Southeast Asia) are also good options for those sights that are difficult to reach by public transit. You can download their apps and watch out for discount coupons you can use when you travel.
Other tips that I would recommend, especially if you’re traveling abroad would be to:
• Always bring cash if you can. Using credit cards and withdrawing money from ATMs incur a lot of fees.
• Research online for money changers that are safe and offer the best rates. Airport and hotel money changers are convenient, but they usually have lower rates.
• Take advantage of freebies at the airport and visitor’s information centers like free Wi-Fi, movies and layover tours.
I’m sure there are a lot more ways you can save money when on vacation that are not listed above, but one thing that I can’t stress enough is to plan ahead as you can easily modify your plans if it does not fit your budget.
So, there you have it. I hope you will find these tips useful for your next vacation. If you have other money-saving tips and suggestions, please feel free to comment in the section below.