If you feel the need to have a low-budget vacation or skip it entirely, you’re not alone. In 2018, only half of Americans surveyed indicated that they intended to enjoy a summer vacation. Half of the 50% (or 25% of all Americans, if you’re keeping track) stated that they lacked the financial ability to experience a vacation. However, with some assistance, many Americans could discover that vacations might not be beyond their reach after all. Here, we discuss many ways people can significantly decrease their vacation expenses.
Pick an Affordable Country
If you dream of relaxing on a picturesque beach with a margarita in-hand, you don’t only have to go to Bali or Hawaii. You can spend less than $50 daily per person in many countries without sacrificing an exceptionally good time. Colombia’s popularity stems from its beautiful countryside and world-renowned biodiversity. The Philippines and the Republic of Georgia also merit honorable mentions. If you are looking for a list of great, inexpensive countries to visits, check out Travel Waits.
Consider the Exchange Rate
The next key consideration of vacation planning is to determine how the local currency compares to the U.S. dollar. This will heavily influence the amount of money you need for your week away. By picking a country where the U.S. dollar is incredibly valuable, it vastly decreases both the amount of time required to save and the amount of money needed.
Food expenses in vastly different areas can add up quickly, especially if you’re traveling with family. But, a few guiding principles still apply that can help anybody save. Although vacations serve as breaks from the daily routine, using hotel mini-kitchens can be an excellent use of your time. Eating breakfast in a hotel room is both convenient and prudent. Furthermore, consider snacking throughout the day rather than paying for three huge meals. Eat a hearty breakfast, then snack until dinner. Eating healthy snacks helps to decrease appetite, and a few unhealthy snacks can be used if needed (you’re on vacation after all!). Lastly, remember that most happy hours include discounts on food and drinks.
Use the Internet Wisely
While researching for your vacation, use incognito mode or an equivalent as much as possible. Browsers usually collect cookies, which are the bits of data that identify you to the websites you visit. If travel sites cannot track your movements around the internet, it’s more difficult for them to guess your intentions. As a result, they can’t increase prices when it’s clear you’re pursuing a particular hotel, itinerary, or date. If you’re having problems privatizing your browser, looking into using a virtual private network (VPN). Also, setting price alerts allows you to wait for the best opportunities to come to you. Aggregator sites like Hotels.com or Kayak can assist with doing so. And speaking of aggregators…
Be Careful with Travel Aggregators
Hotels, airlines, and rental car companies pay truly massive amounts to online booking sites and travel aggregators. Commissions can reach up to 15%, which means the businesses only keep 85% of the after-tax payment. Hotels are the most receptive to direct negotiation, along with rental companies. Typically, negotiating with airlines would not be advisable. Take online prices as a starting point, call the location, and request a price reduction. It really can’t hurt to try!
While travel companies dislike using booking sites and aggregators, travelers can receive cashback for associated transactions. Certain cash-back websites or browser plugins collect a part of booking commissions, pocket some, and funnel the rest back to users as cashback or instant refunds. Examples such as Ebates and Giving Assistant can yield 5% or 7% cashback.
Other Tricks to Consider
- Lodging location – most vacationers experience a trade-off between the price of local travel and the price of lodging. However, the price of travel doesn’t vary nearly as much as the price of lodging. Hotels adjacent to local attractions tend to be more expensive than hotels a short drive away from the city center.
- Time of year – while some countries enjoy balmy 75-degree weather most of the year, other popular destinations experience fluctuating weather. This creates low seasons when below-average weather results in less tourism during that time. As long as you don’t require perfect weather, visiting during the low season can result in thousands of dollars in savings.
- Travel insurance – You might think that opting not to buy travel insurance is a simple way to lower your vacation cost, but this is one area you don’t want to skimp out on. This is an essential part of vacations and provides valuable financial protection against a host of possible problems. The headache of something going wrong is just not worth it.
While traveling is generally perceived as expensive, if you take the right steps, it can actually be quite affordable. Having a conversation with a well-informed financial consultant can turn a dream vacation into a reality. While we don’t handle travel arrangements or any of the gritty details, we know exactly how to improve your financial situation and facilitate your savings’ growth. By taking that action, you’ll be able to afford a lot more than just vacations.