Want to travel, but need to shrink many of your costs to match your budget?
Here are three tips to help you travel cheap:
1. Start with a less expensive destination. The same type of hotel in one place will cost less than in another. Air fares to different destinations differ as well. So you can stay longer for the same dollars in some places. And you can put the money you save on your less expensive vacation toward your next trip.
2. Find out if you can save money traveling on a different date. You will likely pay more to fly south in the winter than in the off-season. Sometimes flying on a weekend costs more than flying on a Tuesday. Just make sure you know the drawbacks of off-season travel times. If it’s too cold to go in the ocean or too hot to enjoy lying on the beach, it may not be worth the money you will save. You should also learn about storm risks, including hurricanes or tornados.
Tip: At www.kayak.com, you can compare hundreds of travel sites at once. You can also see at a glance which days in a certain month will be less costly.
The image below shows a sample listing of flights in July 2010 from Toronto to Vancouver:
3. Look for last-minute deals. A number of websites offer them. For example, some websites sell off last-minute vacation packages – including flights and hotels – for big savings. Cruises often start lowering the price about 30 to 40 days before departure. Airlines will keep discounting flights even just hours before the flight is ready to take off.
Just remember: you may not get the exact type of room or seating on the plane that you prefer. And if you are locked into a fixed schedule, you may not be able to take advantage of last-minute deals. Also, be aware of hefty cancellation fees – they can be up to hundreds of dollars if you need to cancel your trip.
Tip: Before you take a last-minute deal, make sure you read all the fine print. Also research where you are going to be staying. You can consult websites such as tripadvisor.ca and realtravel.com for reviews on hotels and more.
Special tips for students and youth
Young people often can’t afford fancy vacations. Here are a couple of great options for students and younger travellers:
- Try a working holiday. The cash you make will fund your trip. If you’re a university student, check out SWAP working holidays. Destinations range from Europe and the UK to Australia and New Zealand. Sample jobs include teaching English, bartending or picking fruit. Some age limits apply, and for some countries you need to be a full-time student.
- Look into hostels to save money. A dorm bed can go for under $20 each night. And, most hostels have kitchens, so you can save money by preparing your own meals.
Remember: a budget vacation doesn’t have to be boring. There are ways to both cut your costs and add to your fun. Sometimes leaving a day or two later can put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.