Wondering how to travel on a budget? While it may seem like traveling is only for those with some spare cash, you don’t have to spend too much money to get out of town. There are many ways to travel on a budget — including using rewards points or miles and traveling at ideal times — that can end up saving you big bucks. Here is guide for beginners on a budget.
Start planning early
If this is your first big trip, chances are you’ve already started planning. That’s good – the earlier you start, the more time you have for it save money. Travel prices rise and fall with demand, and the cycle fluctuates as your travel dates get closer.
If you start planning early, you have the best chance of finding discounted hotel rooms, cheaper flights, and other less expensive activities. Although you won’t find the cheapest prices far in advance (as we mentioned it’s a cycle), you can keep an eye on prices and book when they drop.
Book at the right time
Confused about when the “right time” to book will be? There are several free tools available online to help you.
One of the easiest to use is the price tracking tool available through Google Flights. This service lets you know how the plan you’re about to buy compares to previous prices. It also tells you if the rates are high or low compared to the average cost.
If the flight you’re considering seems expensive, Google Flights also has a fare tracking alert system that will email you when fares drop. You can enable this feature in the search bar.
Skip overpriced tours
There is nothing quite like going to a new city to explore. But how much of that exploration can you do on your own? With the information available online, it’s easy and simple to run your own tour for free instead of paying for a guide.
If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, consider one of the many instead free guided tours that many big cities offer. These walking tours provide tons of information about the area for free, but tips are welcome.
Otherwise apps such as Discovered by locals, tripadvisor and Rick Steves provide comprehensive information for many major cities. Often this is free, but sometimes you have to pay a small fee.
use reward points
One of our favorite ways to save money is by redeeming rewards points for travel. Some of your biggest expenses, like hotels and flights, can be swiped away use reward points during your trip.
This type of travel requires planning; You must earn enough points to redeem a trip. Most often this is achieved by welcome bonuses earned when you open a travel credit card.
For example, a return flight from Los Angeles to Paris in early November 2022 costs $1,255.
While 45,000 miles may seem like a lot, you can easily earn that number of miles. With this you can collect more than enough miles for this flight, for example AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus AAdvantage® miles after you make your first purchase and pay the $99 annual fee in full, both within the first 90 days. The first purchase could be chewing gum or a cup of coffee – it doesn’t matter.
You can say the same hotel credit cards. Most major hotel chains have co-branded credit cards, including hilton, Marriott, IHG, Hyatt, selection and Wyndham. These credit cards – and their sign-up bonuses – can go a long way in reducing the cost of your vacation.
Even better, many of these credit cards are free elite status. Elite status can grant you perks like free breakfast, room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, and late check-out.
It’s a good idea to book hotel rooms with points, especially for budget family travel. Sometimes hotels charge more for extra people in your room, but these costs do not translate into award redemptions. You generally pay the same standard rate as long as you can all safely occupy the room.
Travel in the off-season
Along with using reward points and your trip during the off-season is another excellent way to save money. Every destination has a peak period of demand, during which prices become inflated.
This includes flights, hotels, tours and even restaurants, making traveling on a budget difficult. In Europe, summer is the peak season when most people come to visit.
Flights are the most expensive during this time. Remember the $1,255 flight to Paris example above? A similar flight in peak season costs $2,070 round trip.
As you can see, even if you pay for your flights in cash, you save over $800 by traveling when demand is lower.
If you want to travel on a budget
Holidays don’t have to be expensive. Whether you’re a vacationing veteran or a travel novice, it’s easy to save on trips by starting to plan early and keeping an eye on prices.
More importantly, using rewards points can significantly reduce airfare and hotel costs. Otherwise, traveling during the off-season can help reduce costs and allow you to travel on a budget.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our tips for that The best travel credit cards of 2022including the best for: