If people waited to get rich to see the world, they may never travel to destinations near and far. Even though many people view travel as a luxury, there are plenty of ways to take trips even when money is tight.
In a 2018 survey of 1,000 people ages 18 and older, Bankrate found that nearly half of respondents planned to skip travel that year. Among the 49 percent of respondents who weren’t planning a vacation, 50 percent said they just couldn’t afford it. By prioritizing travel as a goal, cuts can be made elsewhere so there’s money in the budget for vacations.
Proper planning, research and a go-with-the-flow attitude can make budget-friendly traveling a realistic possibility. Here’s how to get started.
Maximize your card rewards. If you’re excellent about paying for credit card bills in full each month, shop around for cards that offer the most travel bang for your buck. Hefty sign-on bonus points enable you to rack up travel dollars after a set amount of spending. Those ‘miles’ or ‘points’ can be turned into hotel rooms, airline tickets, rental cars, and more.
Be flexible on travel dates. Set up alerts for when fares drop and be able to leave when rates are the lowest. Various apps, such as Yapta or Hopper, will send price notifications on flights being tracked. Keep your bags packed and be ready to go when you find your budgeted price.
Cut lodging costs when possible. Travel to destinations where you know someone and you can enjoy a few nights of free accommodations. Even two or three nights in someone’s guest room or on their sofa can save a few hundred dollars in overall costs. Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By Owner are some additional services that can pair travelers with price-savvy spots to stay. Hostels are dorm-style rooms that also make for cheap accommodations if you don’t need much space or luxury.
Travel a little to travel a lot. The nearest airport may not offer the best deals for your budget. Consider increasing your travel radius several miles and fly out of a different airport and even a smaller one. Also, when booking hotels, look beyond city centers or tourist areas. Rates decrease the further out you go.
Travel together to split the costs. Get a group together and maximize the savings, advises Credit Karma. You may be able to score group rates to events, or you can split the cost of a larger condo or home among all travelers.