You have been thinking of taking an international vacation with your family for a long time and want to make sure you get the most value for your money. It’s so important to experience a meaningful trip and create some great memories for your family. Planning for a family trip can be a huge undertaking and a little overwhelming for many people. There are so many things to consider and options. It’s important to clearly define what you want to do, where you are going to stay, and how you’re going to get around while traveling.
With all of the costs involved in the trip, it is important to be able to get the best value for your money and customize the trip for your needs. By careful planning, with the money you save, you can do some really special things that may have seemed too expensive otherwise. If you are one that wants to travel on a budget, being flexible with your travel dates, destinations and plans can save you huge amounts of money. If a person can have an attitude that they want to get away and go somewhere fun during a certain month, that can help a lot with lowering costs.
With all this in mind, we offer our top 10 ways to save money while traveling.
REDUCE YOUR AIRFARE:
Airfare is generally one of the most expensive parts of your trip and can put a big dent in any travel budget. Most airlines have all kinds of amazing deals and special promotions if you know where to look.
If you have the flexibility, we recommend selecting your location and dates based on the best available deals. Many times, even changing your travel dates by just a few days can produce big changes in flight prices. Ticket prices can vary a lot depending on what day of the week, time of year, and holidays. If you are flying to popular areas at peak times of the year, your ticket is going to cost more. Flying off-season is a great way to lower the price.
In general, flying during the middle of the week is advisable, as prices tend to go up on weekends. You can lower your costs with early morning or later night flights and also by traveling after a major holiday. The route you take is another way to save money and flying to a connecting city might be worth the extra flight. You might also find on the return trip that it could be cheaper to fly out from a nearby airport.
There is not any one-stop place to find the best prices on a flight every time. A good place to start the search for finding some great flight deals is to check out Google Flights. It is one of the most powerful flight search engines out there and it is a great tool when it comes to finding some low prices. There are a lot of features to help you tune in to the best price and search almost all carriers and book directly with an airline rather than through a third party.
You get to see a month’s worth of fares within a second and a nice intuitive calendar showing the cheapest fares all throughout the next year. A nice feature is that you can search several airports for both origin and destination flights. You can also view several months of flights to find some great deals.
Another option for finding low airfare is Skyscanner. It has an easy-to-use interface and has an “Everywhere” feature that allows you to enter the world of options starting with the cheapest fares.
You can also check out Momondo to find deals. It is user-friendly and gives you the option to compare against other services.
Expedia offers a solid list of flight deals and also has a rewards program to earn points on flights, hotel stays, and car rentals.
With airfare, there is always a deal to some destination. It may not be your first choice, but if you’re flexible, you can save a ton of money.
Since airfare often represents a large portion of international travel cost, reducing this expense is one of the best ways to save money while traveling.
STAY IN A HOUSE INSTEAD OF A HOTEL:
Depending on how large your family is, multiple hotel room charges can quickly add up and be a huge expense for you. Fortunately, you have some other options that have come on the scene in the last few years to cut your costs for lodging. The rise in online home-rental services has been a huge benefit to families.
Airbnb has become a popular choice for finding some unique accommodations all over the world where you can “live like the locals”. You will typically spend less money than you would at a hotel and it will serve as your home away from home. You also have the option of just renting a bedroom in a house if that suits your needs. Vrbo is another site to check if you are interested in stand-alone homes.
You get your own space and many people prefer to stay in furnished apartments or homes while traveling. You can have the comfort of home which gives you a nice kitchen that can substantially cut down on your food costs.
It is important to do your research on neighborhoods and transportation. As Airbnb has a review system and many hosts heavily rely on this income, it is in their best interest to treat you well and make sure you are satisfied. One bad review can hurt their business.
For last-minute booking, it is possible to negotiate the price if the host is fairly sure they won’t otherwise rent the property at this late date. Another way to get a possible discount on an Airbnb is with a Special Offer that the host can choose to send you if there are specific dates in mind for your stay submitted and your timeframe is more than just a day or two. You need to communicate with the host before placing your reservation.
Another lodging option where you could save even more money and meet other travelers is a hostel. Although hostels are typically dorm room style with multiple bunk beds, there are other sleeping options as well. A lot of hostels offer private rooms and others have family rooms for multiple people. You will usually be sharing bathrooms, kitchens, workstations, and lounge areas.
Many hostels are now offering added amenities including free breakfast, community activities, and beautiful locations. They are definitely a consideration for the budget-conscious traveler. Check out Hostel World for more information. It can be a great way to meet people. Hostelgeeks is a nice shortcut to finding high-end hostels worldwide.
As you can see, there are several ways to save money while traveling by researching alternatives to staying in an expensive hotel.
SUPPLY SOME OF YOUR OWN FOOD:
A nice advantage of staying at an Airbnb or even a hostel is the use of a kitchen which can save you a huge amount of money, especially with several family members. You can stop at a local supermarket or farmers’ market to pick up some essentials. You will be surprised at how much you can save by preparing some of your own meals and it only takes a few minutes to pack a lunch for the day.
Be sure to get some snacks or something to nibble on to take along on tours or excursions. You may even want to pack some lunches here and there. Make sure you buy a supply of bottled water at the supermarket and use a refillable water bottle whenever possible.
You can also save money by checking out the street food vendors. It may be some of the best food you will eat and a chance to try the local cuisine. Try to choose vendors that draw a crowd to help make sure you get good quality food.
ASK THE LOCALS:
A great way to get the scoop on what is going on and where to go is to speak to the local residents. Instead of just relying on your smartphone, take some time and strike up a conversation with some of these residents. They will have some good ideas of what is fun to do, tourists traps to avoid and some good places to eat. If you have some challenges communicating, you can try The Translate app which can help as a translator.
You may well find some hidden spots to check out that you would otherwise miss. Whether it’s a special hidden jazz bar, the best area to watch the sunset, or a quaint hole-in-the-wall restaurant, there is no better resource than a native resident.
Sometimes, it can be nice to take a break from the itinerary and just relax into some conversations with those people that know the area the best. All you have to do is start the conversation by asking about their preferences in favorite things to do, what to see, and the best way to spend your time while visiting.
Public transport can also be a good way to start some conversations. Ask for recommendations of places where locals typically eat or hang out. Take some time and venture beyond overcrowded tourist areas and find some hidden cafes.
SAVE AT RESTAURANTS:
Food and drinks can add up quickly on your vacation and become a major expense. The cost of eating out for families can be huge when it comes to traveling.
You will probably not want to have to cook every meal even if you have a kitchen. Part of the enjoyment of the trip is experiencing some of the local cuisines. One way to pay less than you would at the restaurants most travelers choose is by getting away from the tourist zone and finding some of the hidden spots that the locals can recommend to you. Acting less like a tourist and more like a local can pay off for you.
You can find some cozy and quaint cafes and neighborhood restaurants instead of more formal restaurants for a refreshing change of atmosphere. When eating in restaurants, you can save a substantial amount by having your main meal at lunch instead of the more expensive dinner. Buffets can sometimes be a good value.
Make sure you check out local coupons for any special discounts. Getting the right Groupon coupon deal can reduce your tab by 40-50%. You can also check out Restaurant.com for some deals. Yelp also has some informative reviews that can make it easier to choose where to go.
Don’t forget to use your cash-back credit card or travel rewards credit to lower your final cost of food purchases. Some premium cards can return 5% or greater in select purchase categories that include restaurants and grocery stores.
When it comes to food, there are many ways to save money while traveling, without sacrificing taste or good nutrition. It just takes some thought and effort.
Traveling to a major tourist destination in the offseason can be one of the easier ways to save money while traveling and make your family vacation more affordable. While the weather may be less than ideal, you won’t be bumping into loads of tourists and will also get some reduced prices because of the time of year. It will surely reduce your time of standing in line for various activities.
For example, in the Caribbean, June through November is a good timeframe for avoiding the highest prices and crowded beaches. Prices on certain airline tickets and hotels can drop as much as 50%. Think St. Lucia.
The costs for seeing Renaissance architecture in Florence, Italy can be reduced almost in half by traveling there between November and Easter. There may be some rainy evenings, but you will still have the experience of the Italian culture and cuisine.
Also, the choice of destination can make all of the difference in being able to afford a vacation. Think less popular destinations like Portugal and Greece compared to more expensive countries like Norway and Sweden. Go to places with fewer lines and fewer crowds. Also, some of the best-known cities in a country tend to be the most expensive, so you can save a few bucks by exploring some of the lesser-known areas.
For some free things to do, think of parks, historic sites and other points of interest. To start with, simply google ‘free attractions’ of the city for some good ideas.
Walking tours can be a great way to experience a new location for free and many cities around the world are quite walkable. An example in Cork, Ireland is Cork City Walks Guided Tour. You can get a wealth of information from some of the locals who are passionate about their cities.
If available in your destination, take advantage of Greeter Services. At no cost to you, greeters will take you on free walks through their home city for 2-3 hours for up to 6 people.
Another way to soak up the atmosphere of a new city is to check out the local markets. You can find out all about the local food culture and try some of the local produce. For example, in Barcelona, Spain, La Boqueria is a famous market with over 300 stalls of all kinds of local and international products. What a great way to explore what the area has to offer and people watch at the same time.
Hiking can be a great way to experience a new destination that few tourists see. It’s great to find a trail and go for a leisurely walk or find a more strenuous trail for an adventure. There can be some nice hiking trails in local parks and areas near lakes and rivers.
You will find there are some free museums to visit in most cities. Seeing some of a city’s famous landmarks can help you appreciate the destination. Start with some of the free ones first.
Asking the locals about sights and attractions is not only one of the better ways to save money while traveling, it is a great way to see the most interesting things.
Get the most for your travel dollar by choosing destinations with the most favorable currency exchange rates where your home currency goes further. It can make quite a difference in your costs. XE Currency is one of the more popular apps with people trading in foreign currencies.
Certain destinations like Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala as well as Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia tend to give you a lot for your money. Eastern Europe is much cheaper than some of the western European countries like Norway or Sweden. Most of the countries in Southeast Asia are substantially better prices than the cost of going to Japan, for example.
Try to avoid exchanging money at the airport. It may be convenient, but it comes at a price. Your best bet is to exchange for foreign currency at your local bank or credit union before leaving on your trip. Withdrawing money overseas using a debit card can sometimes get you a better exchange rate than you would get from a bank or credit union.
Choosing destinations with favorable currency exchange rates is one of the smarter, but often forgotten, ways to save money while traveling.
CREDIT CARD REWARDS:
Travel reward cards can help reduce the cost of your trip by letting you earn free points that can be redeemed for airfares, hotels, and cash. There are endless offers out there from which to choose the best card.
There is really no perfect travel card. Each one offers select benefits for various lifestyles, budgets, and travel goals. If you are looking just to get points to spend wherever you like, you can opt for the American Express or Chase cards and be able to use their points with a variety of travel companies.
Some of the best travel credit cards enable you to earn free flights, hotel stays, and other travel accommodations with every purchase you make. This can add up to some substantial savings over the course of time. You can also benefit from a range of perks that may include things like insurance for rental cars, lost luggage, and delayed flights.
Make sure to get a card, collect those points, and take advantage of one of the easiest ways to save money while traveling.
You have saved money and planned thoroughly to have a great experience on this trip, so you don’t want any interruptions or setbacks along the way. It’s important to get there and return safely and you know that accidents happen and medical care can be extremely expensive.
Travel insurance can provide a vital safeguard and sense of security for your trip. Don’t forget to plan for the unexpected. If you happen to get sick or injured, it could be the most expensive part of your trip.
With the various expenses of the trip adding up quickly for your budget, travel Insurance can minimize some of the possible risks when you are traveling, which can include accidents, illness, lost baggage, missed flights, theft, emergency evacuation situations, and others.
You know you need coverage, but it’s challenging to know where to start. That’s why it is important to have an experienced friend to guide you to a plan that best meets your needs.
Your friends at Good Neighbor Insurance have been assisting travelers for over 24 years to find the best plan for their specific needs. We help to make sure you and your loved ones have protection while traveling overseas. We want your trip to be successful and fulfilling. There are so many variables involved in choosing the right plan, so we make sure you get the best coverage for your needs.
It’s hard to put a value on peace of mind when you are traveling. It can make all the difference.
We hope you will benefit from some of these ideas to get the most for your money on that next family vacation. With some smart planning strategies and a focus on savings, you can have the trip of a lifetime. Have a wonderful vacation!