Does this sound familiar? You want to do a lot of traveling, but you don’t want to rough it, so you end up not traveling because you can’t do it the “right way.” Believe it or not, you can travel cheap but still stay in great hotels, eat top notch food, and experience the culture. Before I ever leave on a trip, I have a fun time doing my best to save as much money as possible. This includes searching for deals on everything from hotels to rental cars. And of course, once I arrive at my destination the “savings game” continues.
I think it is important for every traveler to realize that they can save money, without having to stay in cheap hotels and eat fast food every day.
Here are several tips for making this happen:
1. You don’t need the best of the best in order to consider it high quality. For instance, you will find that most booking sites, such as Expedia, rank hotels from one to five stars. While the five star establishments are sure to be the best, you will be surprised to find that many of those ranking at two and three stars have a lot to offer.
Tip: Opt for a Mystery Hotel from Bookit.com. With this, you book your accommodations without knowing the exact name. Immediately after booking, you will receive an email revealing the name and other details of the hotel. While this may sound risky, the system allows you to choose a star rating and location to ensure that you get pretty much everything you want.
Why is this is so beneficial? Since you don’t know for sure what you are getting, the price is almost always lower.
2. Transportation to, from, and when you arrive. If you are able to drive to your destination, you should compare it to the cost of flying. This will give you a good idea of which option is most cost effective. Be sure to consider every last expense including checked bag fees, gasoline, food stops along the way, and anything else you can think of. While driving may sound like a hassle, once you compare the details you may find that you can save hundreds of dollars.
If you decide to fly, you may have an interest in booking a rental car. There are times when this is a good idea, as well as times when you can cut this cost. Before arriving, research what type of public transportation is available. Some cities, such as New York, are well known for their subway system. This is a great way of getting around the city without having to worry about a rental car. Additionally, if you will be charged for parking, it makes more sense to avoid a rental.
Tip: Don’t go overboard at the rental counter. Do you really need that luxury SUV? Or will a compact car do the trick?
3. Eat out, save money. One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling is tasting the local cuisine. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the money to eat out three times per day. Above all else, don’t get caught in the trap of eating every meal at a restaurant. Along with this, you can save a lot of money by opting to eat out during lunch as opposed to dinner.
Tip: Search for local coupons online before you arrive. I use sites such as Valpak.com and Groupon.com. Also, look for a hotel that includes a continental breakfast. Many of the “included” breakfasts have come a long way since the old days, and you’ll often find waffle makers, fruit, yogurt, and cereal. Eating breakfast at the hotel will allow you to spend more money for lunch and dinner.
(photo credit: moonjazz)