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There’s no doubt that planning for your next adventure is an exciting time, but it’s always important to keep an eye on the costs as you go.

Most of us don’t have a bottomless pit of cash (sadly!), so it’s important to set the structure of your budget when you’re planning, so that you don’t get caught out overspending, and can make the most of your money.

The following are a couple of quick tips to help you save money during the planning process, and for getting you into the budget traveler mindset. You might be surprised by how far your money can go!

Tips to Save Money While You’re Planning a Trip

Travel Off-Peak and Off-Season

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It’s simple enough logic – the cost of travel is cheaper when there is little demand for it. As such, you should consider the following when coming up with dates for your travel:

Avoid traveling during school holidays, as well as during peak tourist times for your destination. If you search for ‘best time to travel to [your destination]’, you’ll be able to find that costs will be much cheaper a month either side of the peak time.

Off season might not have beautiful weather like peak season does, but you’ll probably find that it has a unique magic of it’s own, that not many others have the chance to experience; for instance, Europe in winter is magical!

That said, it’s important to properly research why people avoid traveling in off peak season; if it’s because it’s cold, just pack a jacket. However if it’s because of adverse weather like hurricane season, maybe consider traveling in shoulder season as opposed to going way off-peak.

When you’re looking for your flights, you’ll be able to find a cheaper deal if you’re flexible with dates and times. Tuesday is usually the cheapest day to fly as it’s an inconvenient day for those who plan travel around their work week.

Fewer people traveling means less demand and a better deal for you!

Consider Your Transport Options

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Transportation costs don’t stop just because you’ve arrived at your destination. There are always additional expenses as you rent cars, hire taxis, or take the bus, and much of the time these expenses are costs which travelers overlook when planning a budget.

Research is key when it comes to transport, as it can end up being one of the most costly aspects of any trip. And you should take into account all of the options available.

For example, instead of flying into your destination, could you fly elsewhere and get a train to your destination for a lower price? Some cities like London can have 5+ airports, so it’s definitely something worth checking.

If you’re spending a long time in one place that you want to travel around, it may be worth hiring a car. This can work out much cheaper that multiple train journeys or taking taxis.

There are companies that will compare car hire prices for you in over 8000 locations worldwide to help you get the best deal. If you’re basing yourself in a fairly compact city you may choose to walk everywhere instead.

Make Sure You Pack Smart!

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Packing smart doesn’t mean over or under-packing! You simply need to give proper consideration to what you’ll need while traveling. And this can often save you money.

Firstly, don’t try to cram a month’s worth of supplies into hand luggage! Packing the right amount of things that you need will reduce costs in the long run, as you won’t have to buy much when you’re on the road.

Meanwhile, packing unnecessary items could lead to higher costs for transporting your baggage. Find a happy medium and pack what you need.

There are many budget airlines around the world that offer cheap flights if you’re not traveling with any luggage, for instance, if you’ve chosen to go hand luggage only. But by the same token, if you’re over their weight limit you’ll be forced to pay for the bag to be checked.

If you do think you’ll need to purchase extra luggage, do this online in advance, as it often costs double if you have to pay for another bag at the airport, or they force you to pay for excess weight.

Look Out for Free Activities and Discounts

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A simple search online will help you find everything and anything that you can do for free while on your trip. It’s worth looking into before you go, as this will help you distinguish between things that you need to put money aside for, and things that you don’t.

Many tourist attractions like museums or parks have one day a week when they’re free. So it’s well worthwhile doing your homework and find out how to take advantage of this.

On top of this, there are also the many, many free or cheap attractions in every city. Beaches, national parks, public squares, religious sites, and even zoos can be cheap or free.

Walking tours too are a fabulous way to experience a new destination for free, and the majority of cities around the world excel at being pedestrian friendly. It’s a great way to orientate yourself with a new location while taking in the most popular tourist attractions, and seeing a city’s top landmarks is absolutely free.

If you’re booking tickets for activities and tourist sites in advance, search the web for coupons and discount codes to help you save some cash. If you’re a student, ask if any attractions offer a student discount or reduced price tickets.

Plan a Budget – and Stick to It!

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You certainly don’t want to run out of funds halfway through your trip because you didn’t budget properly. There’s nothing worse than running out of money and having to max out your credit card, beg family and friends to send money, or clean toilets to cover the hotel bill!

It’s incredibly important to sit down and run numbers before you commit to taking a trip – think realistically about how much you can afford to spend, and keep this in mind when you’re planning out your trip.

You’ll find it much easier to stay on-track if you’ve pre-planned when and where to spend your money. These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when setting a travel budget:

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How much money is available for the vacation?
  • How much can you save between now and the trip?
  • How many people are you traveling with?
  • How long do you want to go?
  • What type of holiday are you going on? Ie if you’re on a bus tour, are meals included?
  • How much are flights?
  • What are you willing to spend per night on accommodation?
  • How much are you likely to spend on food? Does the hotel include free breakfast? Are there grocery stores nearby which you could hit up to buy lunch? Does the hotel include facilities for you to cook?
  • How much are you likely to spend on transport? Can you walk to main attractions from your hotel? Do you have to catch taxi’s every day? Is public transportation efficient, like buses, metro or train?
  • What are you willing to spend on extra activities?
  • Give yourself a buffer for incidentals you haven’t thought of, like bank fees or credit card surcharges.

When determining what you can afford, you should keep in mind your ongoing expenses, like rent, utilities, subscriptions etc. You should make sure you’ve left yourself a buffer to cover any bills you receive when you return home.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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