For many of us, a vacation is a rare opportunity for indulgence, and a time where we can treat ourselves to the luxuries we usually forgo in everyday life. But even those of us who have no intention of traveling on a shoestring budget are often loath to part with more money than we have to – and no one likes the idea of wasting money when they are on their travels.
So while you may not want to think about penny-pinching on your vacation, it’s likely that you don’t want to see your costs run away with you either – especially if it leads to a hefty credit card bill that will ruin your post-holiday glow. Luckily, there are lots of ways in which you can dodge hidden costs, get the best deals and minimize unnecessary expenditure, allowing you to spend money on the important things and enjoy a fantastic trip away.
6 Tips for Saving Money While Travel
Get people together and share accommodation
The vision of an exquisite and exclusive hotel may be the first thing to materialize in your mind’s eye when you’re planning a special vacation – but with the potential of hundreds of dollars worth of savings to be made, it can be worth considering a luxury holiday rental instead. Offering all the indulgence of a high-end hotel (including options that feature swim-up rooms, home theaters, and even bowling alleys), rentals tend to cost far less per person per night, especially if you can fill up a larger property.
Whether it’s luxurious Barbados villa rentals or spacious New York apartments when you share accommodation (and therefore the cost) with a larger group you may be surprised by the level of luxury that suddenly appears in your price range.
Another advantage of traveling with your friends or wider family is that you may find that you are also entitled to discounts on tours, excursions, and transport when you book as a group.
Visit destinations out-of-season
This is an oft-repeated (and oft-ignored) piece of vacation advice, but when it comes to saving money on vacation there is little to beat it. While some locations probably aren’t too appealing when all the cafes are closed and it’s pouring with rain, others can be surprisingly inviting during the off-season – and invariably far cheaper to book.
Many ski resorts are positively glorious in summer, while areas such as Provence, Barcelona and Alberobello can be delightful in winter. Traveling out of season means you can explore locations at a time where the locals dominate, rather than visitors. This gives you an arguably more authentic experience, while also helping you to dodge the “tourist premium” that some business owners will put on their prices for rooms, food, and activities.
What’s more, visiting at these quieter times of the year can give you a whole different perspective on even the most well-worn tourist destinations, and present a whole new host of things to do – from autumnal hikes to springtime swimming in mountain lakes.
Weigh up exchange rates and check whether you’ll need cash before traveling
Choosing a destination with a favorable exchange rate is one easy way to save money on your vacation, but it can also be helpful to determine beforehand how much cash you’ll need while you are away.
You may be subject to bank charges if you withdraw money abroad while using an ATM (and especially in international airports) can sometimes come with unexpected fees. Factoring in these costs, or traveling with enough cash to cover your expenses (with due care taken to keep this money safe) can help you plan ahead and reduce unnecessary waste.
Check out age-based benefits
Whether it’s minors going free, the over-65s enjoying senior perks or even student discounts, you can take advantage of your age (and the ages of those in your party) in a variety of ways. Similarly, remember to mention it if you are on vacation to celebrate a honeymoon, a special anniversary or a birthday, as you may find you receive a few complimentary treats or upgrades.
Save money on travel essentials
There are some necessities we can’t do without on vacation, but they needn’t break the bank.
- If you already have leftover suntan lotion in the house, check how long it lasts before buying new bottles. Some brands are usable up to two years after opening, so there’s not always a need to buy a whole new set each time you go away. Also, bear in mind that expense doesn’t necessarily equate to effectiveness when it comes to suntan lotion – the UVA and UVB rating is the only real indicator of quality, and discount brands can actually be better than their more pricey counterparts.
- Rather than buy expensive travel-sized toiletries (where you will pay a premium for convenience), simply decant some of your home supply into smaller bottles and take them with you.
- Write up a list of helpful travel items and visit a dollar store. Useful things like travel pillows, eye masks and waterproof phone cases tend to be more expensive in airports (as they know they have a captive audience) but very affordable in discount outlets.
- Check out your options for public transport and (if possible) book in advance. While taxis and intercity buses are sometimes your best bet, in many countries public transport can be an affordable and comfortable option. There are a variety of travel passes, discounted advanced tickets and sightseeing pass available, so with a bit of research, you can slash your transport costs without much hassle.
Be aware of the tipping culture
Tipping is so ubiquitous in the USA that it can be easy to over-tip while you are traveling abroad. In many European countries, for example, the tipping culture is a little more complex, and far from the fact of life that it is for American citizens.
Take Britain, where it’s still generally considered polite to tip 10-20% in a restaurant (and the latter end for exceptional service), but it’s largely unexpected in cafes, bars or coffee shops. European restaurants are also likely to add a service charge to your bill, in which case tipping isn’t necessary (although it may be appreciated!).
Top Villas are high-end travel experts and enthusiasts who help people create amazing vacation experiences through their luxury villa rentals and vacation homes across the world.
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