Travel Tips for the Frugal

Get the best deals on your vacations every time

by Megan Patterson

Mac Pale, Curacao, 2011

Traveling is awesome, but expensive. Luckily, there are more ways than ever before to get the best deals on your wanderings thanks to the internet. But it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. This handy guide is here to help!

  1. Make a budget. This might seem kind of elementary, but it’s important! Know how much you plan to spend and then stick to it! Cash can get eaten up quickly when you’re in a new place if you’re not paying attention to where every dollar is going.
  2. Make sure your budget is realistic. For saving and budgeting purposes, research and see how much the trip is realistically going to cost you before you go. Two thousand dollars is a reasonable budget for a resort in Central America during the off-season, but this is not the case if you want to go to Asia.
  3. Buy your fare either well in advance, or at the last minute to get the best prices. The ideal times to buy your plane tickets are: 10 months to a year before departure, or two weeks and under.
  4. Be flexible. Traveling midweek (Tuesday or Wednesday) costs hundreds of dollars less than traveling any other day during the week. Also, traveling offseason (which varies depending on where you want to go) is significantly cheaper. My family used to go to Disney World during the offseason. It was incredibly awesome because no one else was there, and we almost never had to wait in line for a ride. We went on Splash Mountain 20 times in a row!
  5. Don’t be afraid of the budget hotel. As long as it’s clean, has a bed and shower, and is in a good location, you don’t have to be picky about where to stay when you go away. You don’t spend a lot of your time at the hotel anyway, so why pay more than you have to? Sites like: Expedia, Travelocity, Budget Hotel and Cheap Hotels are great for finding cheap hotels−and they are usually reviewed, so you know whether it’s any good or not. And of course, don’t knock off hostels. Many of them have private rooms now, and it’s still a lot cheaper than a hotel.
  6. For extended stays, consider renting an apartment. If you’re staying a month or more, finding a short-term rental might be the most cost effective option for accommodations. Bonus: You get a full kitchen, so you can cook almost all of your meals if you choose to do so. Some good sites to consider: (Europe) (Tokyo) (Worldwide, depends on where people are posting them) (Paris, New York, Israel)

  7. Don’t eat all your meals at restaurants. For example, I never eat breakfast out when I’m on vacation (unless I’m staying somewhere it’s included). I get a place with a fridge and a kettle, buy things like yogurt, soy milk, oatmeal, cereal, or breakfast bars, and eat at the hotel. I don’t go out to eat unless I’m craving something I can’t make, like French toast or waffles.
  8. Sign up for travel deal sites, such as Travel Zoo. Sign up with your email and then let the deals come trickling into your inbox. They also have a great tool on their site where you can compare prices at multiple travel websites.

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