Take a Great Vacation on a Budget

Take a Great Vacation on a Budget
Eating at local diners instead of expensive restaurants is a good way to save money on vacation. (Photo courtesy of Garth Grimmer/Dreamstime.com)

After months of staying close to home because of the worldwide pandemic, Dan and Joanne Crawford were itching to take a vacation. Given their limited income and the cost of raising three young children, however, the amount in their bank account wasn’t sufficient to pay for a luxury trip.

Even so, the couple used a variety of strategies to stretch their travel budget and enjoy a much-needed and greatly appreciated break from their daily routine. These same money-saving approaches are available to anyone seeking to get the biggest bang for their bucks.

An almost alphabet-long list of tips provides suggestions for saving money on airfares, accommodations, dining and other travel expenditures. Combined, they can make the difference between deciding to stay home and taking a vacation that otherwise might be beyond what the family could afford.

Affordable airlines: A survey of domestic airlines that offer inexpensive flights by Rome2rio, a travel information and booking engine, listed Spirit, Frontier and Hawaiian airlines at the top of the list. Wallet-friendly carriers in Europe include Dublin-based Ryanair, most of whose flights connect Ireland and the United Kingdom, but they also go to other destinations. Norwegian is the one many price-conscious travelers rate the best low-cost airline on the Continent.

Among websites that compare ticket prices are Google Flights, which offers a variety of features; Skyscanner, whose benefits include listings of lesser-known carriers; and Kayak, which is the granddaddy of flight metasearch sites.

Discount destinations and dates: Some places are just more expensive to visit, while others are naturally less so. Big cities and tourist “hot spots” fall into the first category. Less-well-known destinations and off-the-beaten-track locations can offer more for less. That’s true especially during the off-season. Another bonus is that your chosen destination will be a lot less busy and crowded.

Discounts and deals: Ways to hoard your travel dollars extend to a number of other areas. Among discounts offered by Groupon are good deals on travel. Available to specific places and on specified dates, they’re targeted to people who are flexible in their choice of where and when to go. Among vendors who offer discounts to members of the American Automobile Association are car-rental companies and restaurants. Those who sign up with Hotels.com receive price reductions and free reward nights. And the list goes on.

Travel locally: While Paris, an African safari and other bucket -list destinations have great appeal, attractions closer to home can be exciting and enjoyable, too—and at much lower cost. A bit of research may turn up travel opportunities and adventures that are perfect for a day trip or getaway weekend.

Restaurant recommendations and more: Avoiding touristy eating places on a main strip and dining where locals gather can fill your tummy without emptying your wallet or purse. As alternatives, cook some meals at home and enjoy a picnic of local favorites. If where you’re staying offers complimentary breakfast or free or low-priced buffet meals, take advantage of the bargain-priced nourishment.

Trade homes: Home-exchange organizations provide opportunities to trade a free stay in accommodations around the world with someone who puts up in your digs. Home Exchange offers 450,000 habitats in nearly 160 countries. The Vacation Exchange has opportunities in waterfront, desert, ski and inner-city properties, among others. I’ve traded my urban apartment for a lovely house with swimming pool in Florida and a 40-acre gentleman’s farm in rural Connecticut.

Random recommendations: The list of tips for saving money on travel is long and varied, and you may have some ideas of your own. Even with high gas prices, driving rather than flying can be less costly than paying airline fares, especially if you’re not going too far. The road trip can be part of the vacation.

Search for free things to do at your destination: Some museums don’t charge admission on certain days, and events such as flea markets and fairs can combine enjoyment with a bit of local color. The Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, charges no admission at its 19 museums, zoo, and historic and architectural landmarks, most located in Washington, D.C.

Admission to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is always free. (Photo courtesy of Rumata7/Dreamstime.com)
Admission to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is always free. (Photo courtesy of Rumata7/Dreamstime.com)

See if discount rail passes are available at your destination and if they offer savings for your travel plans. If traveling by train, try to schedule an overnight ride to save on accommodations.

Skimp on shopping: While one of the pleasures of travel can be bringing back mementos of where you’ve been for yourself and others, the cost can add up quickly. Look for less-expensive items that are representative of a destination or items you can use later—such as clothing or housewares—that will serve as reminders of a trip for years to come.

When You Go

Rome2Rio.com Google.com/flights Skyscanner.com Kayak.com Groupon.com AAA.com/travel Hotels.com HomeExchange.com TheVacationExchange.com
Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2022 Creators.com
Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2022 CREATORS.COM
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