Travel is one of the great joys of life. Experiencing new places, new people, and new cultures can be both enlightening and rewarding – not to mention fun. Of course, the great barrier to travel (other than time, of course) is money. Many of us would like to travel more, if it weren’t for that pesky issue of having to pay for it. Well, for those of you out there, here are ways to save money on your next adventure.
Save Money on Airfare
There are a number of ways to make air travel more affordable. You can use reward points and frequent flyer miles. You can try and book at the last minute, in order to save money on unsold seats. You can use booking services like Google Flights and Kayak to hunt down affordable airfare. Finally, you can save money on the flight itself, by bringing your own snacks and getting a cell phone plan with free Wi-Fi, like Gogo Inflight.
Before booking a flight, do a bit of cross-shopping; you may find that a flight can be bought for less money elsewhere, or that a similar flight is available at a lower cost. Additionally, consider options outside of your ideal travel window. If you can manage it, you may find that simply by flying out on a Tuesday instead of a Friday, you can save hundreds of dollars per person. Compound this savings with the number of people traveling in your group, and you’ll start to appreciate the benefit.
Save Money on Accommodations
Compared to hotel fees, airfare can seem downright affordable. Consider that a three- or four-star hotel in a major metropolitan area can easily cost $250 or more per night for a double room. Which means accommodations for a 10-day trip can exceed $2,500 for just two people. For a family of four, the cost will be even higher. That’s not a small amount of money, to be sure.
To save money, consider using booking sites like Priceline or Travelocity to find discount hotel deals. You may also find that renting an apartment or home, rather than a hotel room, is actually more affordable – not to mention more memorable and unique. Booking sites like Airbnb make it easy to find accommodations of all sorts in cities and towns, small and large, all around the world.
Take Advantage of Free Attractions
Between park admission, food and beverages, souvenirs, and accommodations, traveling to a destination like Disney World can easily cost a family of four upwards of $1,000 per day. Of course, even if you’re traveling alone, a theme park will cost you more than, say, a trip to Washington, D.C., where most if not all of the attractions are free. Take this into account when you’re planning your trip. Base your trip around free (or cheap) attractions, and you can limit your spending to getting there and staying there.
So what can you see? Well, national parks, state parks, beaches and lakes, and simple strolls through new neighborhoods are all very light on the wallet. If you simply want to soak in a new environment, there isn’t any reason you can’t do so on the cheap. Visiting the Statue of Liberty, going to the top of the Empire State Building, and attending a Broadway show will cost you hundreds of dollars. By comparison, simply walking around New York City will cost you hardly anything at all.
Buy a Metro Pass
If you plan on visiting a city with a substantial metro network, consider getting a metro pass. Many cities offer weekend, 3-day, 7-day, and month-long passes for their networks, which allow the rider to use the system without restrictions during the period in question. Though these passes aren’t necessarily cheap (though some are surprisingly affordable), they are cheaper than buying tickets individually, and can even encourage you to see more.
Of course, not all metro systems are created equal. If you’re traveling to the west coast of the United States, for example, be prepared to be underwhelmed. You’re basically going to need a car. But if you’re traveling on the east coast, in Europe, Asia, Australia, or parts of South America, you will likely find that the metro can get you to most, if not all, of the places that you want to go – quickly, easily, and cheaply.
Walk, Walk, Walk
There is no cheaper way to see a new city than by walking. And many will argue, there’s no better way to see a new city than by walking. And it’s easy to see why. Walking is quite simply one of the best ways to immerse yourself in an environment. You can smell fresh bread being baked, feel the wind on your face, enjoy the warmth of sun on your back, and enjoy total freedom of movement – trains take you to a specific destination, but with walking there is no destination. Of course, for those of you who like the principle behind walking, but aren’t such big fans of the pace, there’s also biking. Thankfully, renting a bike is becoming easier than ever.
Rent a Car
Renting a car isn’t the right solution for every destination. If you’re planning on traveling to Rome or New York City, for example, forget about the car – it will be nothing but a hassle. However, if you’re planning to visit multiple destinations during your trip, or will be visiting a place with little in the way of public transportation options (and you don’t want to depend on Uber or Lyft), consider renting a car. Believe it or not, you can find rental cars for less than $50 per day.
A rental car, like walking, puts you in control. You can choose where to go and when. You can take your time, leave when you want, and make stops along the way. A rental car provides you with freedom of movement, whereas nearly all other transportation options (train, bus, cab, ride-hail, etc.) force you to be a passenger. For that reason alone, you might find that a rental car is worth the money. But renting a car can save you money as well, because it prevents having to pay for all of these other options.