The need for a vacation is often underrated. People get so absorbed in their busy schedules that they tend to ignore the importance of taking time off. A number of studies have shown that travelling has both psychological and physical health benefits. People who take frequent vacations are more creative, motivated, have lower stress levels and a greater zest for life in general.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be super rich to have a good vacation. With proper planning and a creative approach, you can reduce the cost of your trip to a great extent. Here are 13 travel tips on how you can save money on vacation.
Choose Hotel at a Central Location
Firstly, you should make sure that the hotel you decide to stay in is located centrally, otherwise the transportation cost will add up quickly. The area should be such that you can walk to and from, safely on foot. The market, bus stop, subway and cafes should all ideally be within close distance.
Book a Room with a Microwave and a Refrigerator
Although most people would not like to cook on a vacation, it is always better to have a small kitchen area in the room. If the room service is too pricey, you can avoid it by making a quick cup of coffee or sandwich yourself. If you choose to have a fancy dinner, you can pack the leftovers and store them in the refrigerator to be reheated later.
Look for Free/Discounted Activities
Once you’ve checked in, you should move around your hotel and familiarize yourself with the streets, markets and activities taking place there. Look at the community calendars to know which events are happening in town during your stay. This way you’ll have a good idea about the discounted deals and free entries to various museums, clubs and other places.
Shop from Local Stores and Farmer’s Market
When travelling, you should opt to buy food from local stores. Not only is it easy on the pocket, but also allows you to enjoy the authentic taste of the cuisine of the place. Farmer’s markets usually lower their food prices towards the end of the day. So, you can make use of their discounted rates and enjoy items the place is popular for.
Carry Water & Snacks during Outings
While sightseeing, always carry your own water along with some snacks. This is particularly important when you have kids along. Don’t waste money on bottled water and unhealthy snacks unnecessarily; rather save it for a treat that is the specialty of that place.
Be Flexible About Flights
Unless you are on a very tight schedule, be flexible about the day/time of your flight, the number of stop-overs and even your seat selection. Try and tweak the dates of your trip a bit to see if you can get a cheaper deal.
Plan an Off-Season Trip
If you decide to visit a place during the peak tourist season, it will be difficult to get inexpensive tickets and hotel bookings. But if you decide to go during off-season, you’ll find ample offers and discounts on both. Besides, you won’t have to deal with large crowds and stand in long queues for your entry to the major attractions. Just check that the places you have on your list are open.
Don’t Forget Tax Refunds
Some countries allow tourists to claim a part or all of the retail sales tax back. This might require you to show proof and fill out forms, but if you have made large purchases, it can save you a good amount.
Interact with Locals
Be friendly and chat with the locals. Not only will you enjoy learning about their culture and viewpoints, but they might have some very good suggestions on how you can avail discount offers. They’ll guide you where to eat and some may even be hospitable enough to invite you to stay over (particularly in small towns).
No Need to Book a Luxurious Room
When choosing your hotel room, be clear about your priorities. Do you really need that much extra space? Do you want a room with a terrific view? Will you be using the amenities such as the gym and pool? How much time will you be spending in the room? Luxurious rooms are quite expensive and the money will be wasted if you are not able to utilize the facilities.
Most tourists end up using the room only to sleep and freshen up. If that is also the case with you, get a neat and comfortable room with the basic facilities.
Optimize Your Credit Cards
Many credit cards have stopped charging the foreign transaction fees, but some still do. Read the fine print and use a card which does not charge them. This fee can be around 3% per transaction. You can save a lot of money by using a sound travel rewards credit card. In some cases, it also provides certain consumer and travel protections.
Don’t Collect Souvenirs
Don’t start buying souvenirs for friends and family the moment you see them. You should get them towards the end of your trip, after you have scoped out all the shops and their prices. It’s only when you see something very rare that you should buy it on the spot.
Stick to Your Budget
While on a vacation, you will be tempted to spend on a lot more than what is on your list. Act wisely and follow your budget plan to keep yourself on track. Keep looking for ways to save money, but also make sure you make the most of everything that is available and within budget.