Is there really such a thing as budget travel? With social media accounts overflowing with pictures of exotic foods and technicolor island sunsets, it’s easy to imagine that all of your friends are living la dolce vita on their travels. But here’s the thing: you don’t need to be rich to have the trip of a lifetime. With careful planning, creativity, and a little flexibility, you can fit “budget” and “travel” neatly into the same sentence. Here’s how:
Between student loans, car payments, rising housing prices, and the costs of starting a family, how can you possibly afford a two-week vacation to Europe? Here’s a much more productive question: Is there an app for that?
Saving money for a vacation can be difficult. Budget travel doesn’t feel like budget travel if you have little or no money socked away in the first place. Gone are the days of throwing a $10 bill in the piggy bank. Today’s pre-saving techniques are much more high-tech. A money saving app like Digit analyzes your financial situation—bills, spending habits, etc., and pulls a few dollars from your checking account into a Digit savings account. You can change the app’s saving habits, making it more or less aggressive depending on how much you want to save and how quickly. Other apps that provide savvy strategies to help you save for your next vacation include the following:
- Mint: Your very own personal finance tracker.
- Level Money: Spend money smarter with this financial manager app.
- Acorns: Invest your spare change.
- Credit Karma: Credit reports and credit score for free.
If you have a difficult time monitoring your spending and saving money (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), these apps do it automatically. Your travel fund will be flush in no time, and that dream vacation will be a happy reality.
Choose a Budget-Friendly Destination
Competing airlines continually roll out low fares in hopes of enticing bargain-hunting travelers to fly with their carriers. As Herb Kelleher, chairman of Southwest Airlines, put it: “The airline business is the closest you can get to war in peacetime.” But there’s more to a budget vacation than cheap airfare. The cost of food and drink, shopping, day trips, excursions, and other activities dictate how much you spend on vacation, and the price of these things vary from country to country.
When choosing a budget-friendly destination, it’s important to consider exchange rates. For example, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union caused the pound sterling to plunge. This made the United Kingdom (and particularly London—a notoriously expensive place to visit) one of the best travel values around. Former Easter bloc cities such as Prague, Krakow, and Budapest are far less expensive than cities in Western Europe. Meanwhile, exchange rates in South America, South Africa, and Southeast Asia have long given budget travelers great value.
The Saving Power of a Vacation Package
So what are the benefits of a vacation package? It’s is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. A package can include airfare, accommodations, sightseeing, and transfers—all probably cheaper than the flight booked separately. Some packages include deals on food and drink, vouchers for museums, excursions, and reduced rates on rental cars. A packaged vacation offers the benefits of a well-planned holiday, at a bargain price, but with none of the stress of planning it. It saves you time and money. In this day and age, who has time to endlessly peruse the Internet for the lowest airfares and cheapest hotels?
Buy Ahead of Time
According to William J. McGee, an award-winning travel journalist for Consumer Reports, there are six billion airfares housed in the airline industry’s global distribution systems at any given moment. Half of those fares are reserved for corporations. That leaves three billions different pricing combinations for everyone else. So how are you going to find a better deal than the guy in 22E?
One of the ways to find the best pricing combination is to purchase your vacation ahead of time. Many travel experts insist the best time to book a vacation is about three to four months ahead of time. Incorporating an off-peak travel day, such as Wednesday, can also save you money. If possible, rail passes, bus tickets, and car rentals should all be purchased ahead of time, too. Purchasing these things at your destination can often be more expensive and when you’re on a budget, every little bit helps!
Ready to book your next getaway? Talk to the travel experts at go-today to start planning your trip now.