It seems like every time we log into Facebook or Instagram, we are hit with a barrage of pictures from friends traveling the world. Whether they’re backpacking across Europe, sightseeing in Asia, or exploring South American jungles, it’s hard for us not to get a little travel envy. However, if your finances can’t bear the weight of an extravagant trip right now, finding ways to travel affordably may not be as tough as it seems. It just requires careful planning, savvy solutions, and thinking beyond typical vacation options. With a little forethought, you could be the one posting enviable pictures from your next adventure.
Creative Ways to Afford Travel
1. Define Your Priorities
Before you start leafing through brochures or browsing online, you first have to define your travel priorities. If you’re not willing to accept anything but a top-shelf experience, you’re probably going to have to save up before you splurge. On the other hand, if your main priorities are to experience a different culture, learn more about history, or even just take a few days to relax, you can likely accomplish such goals on the cheap.
Start out by defining your vacation priorities. Common ones include:
- Experiencing a different culture
- Trying new foods
- Visiting a specific location, such as a beach or a historic site
- Learning something new
Once you define exactly what you want out of your travels, you can focus on how to best achieve it. If you’re looking for an amazing cultural experience, staying in hostels and shopping at markets might not only be cheaper, but could be a better way to immerse yourself in a culture. Defining what you want out of the experience can align your expectations.
2. Set a Travel Budget
Booking travel without any set budget in mind can be dangerous. It’s hard to avoid getting tempted by cheap fares, online hotel reviews, and various attractions – but you could end up overspending without realizing it. By looking over your current personal budget and taking your savings, fixed expenses, and variable costs into consideration, you can see where you have a little wiggle room (if any) for a vacation.
3. Travel During the Off-Season
If you’ve got a flexible schedule, you can save a ton simply by traveling during the off-season and staying at Cyprus Holiday Rentals. And, as an added bonus, you can benefit from less crowded attractions and have a less stressful overall experience. Tourist seasons vary by destination, but generally speaking, traveling during the summer months or during holiday breaks means paying more for airfare, gas, and accommodations. In general, some of the best times to travel are early in the year and early autumn. Tropical destinations, on the other hand, can be more crowded during January and February, when vacationers are looking for respite from the cold. Kid-friendly places are usually busier when school’s out. And while winter may seem like an ideal time to travel, watch out for holiday-related price spikes around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
4. Look for Hotel Alternatives
You can slash costs significantly simply by exploring non-traditional accommodations. What’s more, some off-the-beaten-path hotel alternatives might actually help you save money on vacation expenses. You can avoid paying high hotel costs by looking into the following accommodations:
- Hostels. When traveling abroad, hostels offer inexpensive lodging (and occasionally meals) to travelers. You may have to share a room and bathroom with other travelers, but you get your own bed, and you just may make some new traveling friends while you’re there. Because hostels require you to share space, they work best if you’re flying solo or traveling as a couple instead of as a family. A typical European hostel costs anywhere from €20 to €40 per night.
- Cyprus Holiday Rentals. Homeowners often rent out their vacation homes to travelers when it’s not in use – you can snag deep discounts on condos, town homes, and even hotel properties. Often outfitted with a kitchen, backyard, and other amenities, a vacation rental may actually be a better fit for a family trip, especially if you can save money by cooking your own food.
- Stay With Friends. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family at a travel destination, call in a favor. It’s a great way to cut your hotel costs, and they can probably give you tips on things to do while you’re in town.
- Couch Surf. Couch surfing boils down to staying at someone’s house instead of a pricey hotel. Courchsurfing brings together travelers and homeowners willing to offer a guest room, bed, or couch to frugal travelers. It can be unpredictable, but if you’re really in a bind, it’s one way to cut pricey hotels out of your travel budget altogether. It works best if you’re traveling alone or with one other person.
5. Plan Shorter Trips
Whether you’re traveling for relaxation or exploration, you don’t need to jet off for weeks at a time to get the experience you want. Shorter travel blocks offer the same benefits as longer vacations, and they can cost much less. Plenty of shorter trips can help you recharge, explore different areas, and experience something new – even if it’s within your home state. Traveling to your state capital, visiting a nearby state park or campground, or going to a museum or local theme park can all be done on the cheap. Some attractions and hotels also offer resident deals if you can prove that you live in-state. As an added bonus, planning shorter, closer-to-home trips means you can drive instead of fly, saving the money you would have spent on airfare.
6. Book Last-Minute Deals
If you’re not in a financial position for a lengthy trip, go for a long weekend or nab a last-minute deal. It might require a little more flexibility on your part, but last-minute trips can make travel a lot lighter on your bank account. When gunning for that last-minute deal, remember that sometimes price wins out over destination. Therefore, this approach works well if you want to go on a vacation, but aren’t picky as to where. Last-minute cruise, hotel, and airfare deals can mean leaving as soon as 24 hours after booking. Save even more by making sure to include a Saturday stay in your itinerary, since hotels prefer to book full weekends. And, if you do see a price and destination you love, book it as soon as possible, since last-minute pricing can fluctuate heavily. By keeping an eye out for airline ticket deals to the exact destination you want, you will never miss a sale and can travel on the cheap.
7. Go in Groups
If some of your other family members are planning trips, think about making it a joint effort. Group rates for hotels, flights, and attractions are common, often netting a 15% discount. However, you likely have to call the reservation center to book. You can also score group rates if you’re booking several rooms at the same hotel – you just have to ask when you call, since online reservations don’t always offer the best group rates.
8. Consider Crowdfunding
Some travel can be seriously expensive, especially if you’re going to be abroad for a long time. If your travel dreams are completely out of reach – and out of your budget – you may be able to ask friends and family members to chip in and help. Crowdfunding has helped everyone from micro-borrowers to filmmakers, and it can help you too.
9. Go on a Volunteer Vacation
If you don’t mind pitching in as part of your travel experience, a so-called “volunteer vacation” can help you afford to travel. You’re still responsible for getting to your destination, but many travel organizations pay for lodging, food, travel within the destination, insurance, and even some local and cultural activities. Many volunteer-based vacations do require payment, but it’s a deep discount compared to what casual travelers cough up for a similar destination.
Via Money Crashers