Despite how appealing it is, going on vacation can be costly. Between flights, hotels, spending money, souvenirs, and emergency funds, you could spend quite a bit of money. However, it doesn’t need to be as expensive as you’d think. Using a few budget travel hacks, you can save cash on your vacation without all the stress. Here’s what you need to know.
Before diving into how you can make your vacation more affordable, it’s worth looking at how much the average trip actually costs. While this varies from person to person – and trip to trip – there are a few rules of thumb you can count on.
For example, an international trip will cost much more than a domestic vacation. International holidays could cost up to $1,000 more per person than going somewhere more local. Staying with friends also means you wouldn’t need to worry about the costs of hotels while driving there costs less than flying out.
The average costs of a vacation per household include:
- Airline Fares – $3,304
- Buses From City To City – $252
- Trains From City To City – $521
- Local Transport – $202
- Taxis/Car Service – $119
- Ships – $2,456
- Gas – $669
- Parking – $172
- Tolls – $72
With how expensive a trip can be, it’s natural to want to figure out how to save cash on your vacation is tempting. However, it can be difficult to do this without making your trip low-quality. It doesn’t need to be.
Related: How to Travel on Next to Nothing
How I can travel for free?
Unfortunately, there is no way to travel for free completely. But, there are ways to save significant amounts of money if you don’t mind putting in a little work!
You can work abroad for a company that pays you to be in a new city or country. You can also pet sit or house sit while you travel. That will give you a place to stay (for free!) and money to spend on touring and food.
You can also try volunteering. Some countries and companies welcome volunteers in exchange for food and housing.
Related: 9 Careers That Require Travel
While we list some top budget travel hacks below, you still need to have money to afford to travel! If you’re looking to save for a vacation, you can do this in a few different ways.
The first is to have a separate savings account. You can transfer a specific amount of money to the account whenever you get paid. Then, you can plan your vacation when your savings reaches a certain point.
The second way is to save as you go. For example, you can take a “working” vacation if you work remotely. You’ll need enough money for a flight or to get to your destination. But after that, you can pay as you go. As long as you budget for it and follow our budget travel hacks, you can enjoy a new location while you work!
Related: How to Save Money for Travel Quickly
How much money should I save for a trip?
With the average cost being $7,767 for a family of four, you can expect to spend about $1,942 per person for a trip. But, this is if you’re paying full price for everything, so keep that in mind! The more you can travel hack, the better your savings.
7 Top Budget Travel Hacks
Using the following seven budget travel hacks, you can make your vacation more affordable without compromising quality. It’s worth making sure you use as many of them as possible if you want to save some serious cash!
1) Cook More
You’ll have quite a few costs to consider when you’re on vacation. One of the more notable of these is food.
Going out to eat every night makes your trip increasingly more expensive. While you should definitely treat yourself when you’re away, it can also be worth cooking more when you’re on vacation.
Though you’ll need to make sure you book accommodation where you can cook, these options are often more affordable than others. You’ll save money with the hotels and even more with your food for the vacation.
You’ll have to put a bit more effort into the trip itself, but the money you’ll save can be quite high.
It’s not uncommon for people going on holiday to book the first hotel or flight they come across that seems like a good deal. They often aren’t. You’ll have plenty of options to choose from, so it’s worth looking around to make sure you get the best deal for you.
That doesn’t solely apply to flights and accommodation, however. Everything from luggage storage to the activities you’re considering can have high-quality alternatives that don’t cost an arm and a leg.
While you’ll need to research and compare them, the savings you’ll see should be more than worth it.
3) Travel During Off-Seasons
Travel has high-seasons and low-seasons, which many people overlook when they’re booking their vacations. Christmas time and the summer months are some of the most popular times to travel. That doesn’t mean you’ll have to put up with many more people at the airport and on the trip.
It also means you’ll end up paying much more for your trip. Hotels and flight operators don’t need to draw in customers during these periods, and they’ve no problem hiking up their prices without it affecting sales. They’ll make a lot more profit because of that.
That isn’t the case during the low seasons. Fewer people go on holiday during these times, so hotels and flight operators need to do some extra convincing to get people to buy. That means lower prices and more savings.
Hotels are often the most expensive part of a vacation. That’s not helped because many people see them as their only option when they’re on the trip. However, they’re not, as you’ll have several other options for where to stay.
AirBnBs and similar platforms can be great for a hotel stay alternative, but these can still be relatively expensive.
Choosing a hostel can be a much more affordable option and even more high-quality than you’d think.
They also offer quite a few other benefits on top of this. They can give you a much more memorable time when you’re on the trip, as you can get to know quite a few other people when you’re there. While you’ll have a decent amount of privacy, there’s more interaction with other guests in a hostel.
That’s especially true in common areas like kitchens, lobbies, and the bar. With the added experiences you can get with a hostel – and the low cost compared to hotels – there’s no reason not to consider them.
5) Swap Souvenirs For Photos
Everyone likes to bring a few souvenirs home from their vacation. It’s a memento of the trip and lets you remember when you were there. They can be costly to buy and bring home, however. You don’t just need to worry about the purchase price, but any increase in baggage costs because of the added weight in your bags.
You can avoid this by taking photos instead of picking up any souvenirs. You’ll still be able to remember the vacation, and you can even show off the trip much more with these. Also, you can toss them on social media for everyone to see and create a scrapbook based on the holiday.
It can be a more effective way of remembering the holiday without needing to spend anything on it. If you want to bring some souvenirs, be careful when you’re packing. Make sure your bags are as light as possible when you’re going on the trip. It’ll prevent you from needing to pay extra for heavier bags once you’re on the way back.
Wherever you go on vacation, there’ll be quite a few attractions you might want to go to. You’ll need to be careful with these, as the cost could add up faster than you’d think. Each specific option will be relatively affordable, but they add up quickly, especially if you bring your family.
You might not have realized that there are plenty of low-cost and even free attractions you can go to. They can be just as fun and interesting as the high-cost options. That doesn’t mean you need to avoid the paid options completely.
Instead, it’s worth being selective about which ones you go to. Doing so will save you more money than you’d think when you’re on the trip.
Related: 5 Top Places to Travel With Family
7) Connect With Some Locals
No matter where you go on vacation, the locals will naturally know much more about the area than you will. Nothing beats local knowledge, even if you spend hours researching where you’re going. It’s worth capitalizing on this as much as you can.
By getting friendly with a few locals, you can get a lot of advice about where to go and what to do. At the same time, you can find more affordable options for this while being told where you should avoid. Locals usually recommend not seeing some of the more touristy areas, as they’re often more expensive than areas outside of this.
It’s one thing to know to avoid the more tourist-focused places, but that still leaves you figuring out where you should go. Once you’ve initiated conversations with a few locals, you can better understand this.
They can even give you recommendations based on your interests and the types of activities you want to do. By asking them about some of the more affordable options, you can be confident you’ll save a pretty penny when you’re doing so.
Budget Travel Hacks: Wrapping Up
Figuring out how to save cash on your vacation can seem stressful, especially considering everything you’ll need to pay for. However, it doesn’t need to be as complicated as you could think.
You can make this much easier with a few budget travel hacks. Once you know what you’re doing, everything becomes easier and much more stress-free. Knowing what to focus on is key, with each of the above areas being some of the most notable.
There shouldn’t be anything stopping you from enjoying your vacation and spending far less money than anyone else!
AUTHOR Kimberly Studdard
Kim Studdard is a project manager for online entrepreneurs and small businesses. When she isn't spending time with her daughter and husband, or reading her growing pile of horror books, you'll find her working on her HR degree and working towards FIRE.