Travel Light: 10 Tips for Planning Your Dream Vacation without Breaking the Bank
Recently my husband and I traveled to Italy, one of our many bucket list locations. As newlyweds and now expectant parents, traveling is high on our priority list. But we are both still early in our careers and must consider the obvious elephant in the room when planning trips: dollars and cents. Many people asked me about the planning and cost of the trip. They were all surprised when I told them we didn’t have to break the bank to go and have a great time.
Taking long vacations can be hard, especially when it comes to choosing the time of year and lining it up with your vacation days from work (for my corporate friends).
During our eight-day trip, we visited Rome, Venice, and Florence, with planned layovers in Toronto, Canada. The trip was just long enough to feel like we were there “long enough” but short enough for a plan to return!
Here are 10 Tips for those looking to travel on a BUDGET, but live LAVISHLY like a Bey and Jay
1. Plan Ahead
Planning should go without saying, but this is an absolute MUST! Getting the best deals on hotels, flights, and excursions can make or break your travel budget. I’m already planning my vacations for 2019! The earlier start, the less you pay. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes you will find those diamonds in rough of last-minute planning, but in most cases, you will get better deals starting early.
2. Create “Watch” List
You can almost think of this as 1.A. But I’m a big fan of the “watch this flight” tool on a lot of travel search engines like Expedia and Trivago.
When you decide when you want to travel (we’ll talk about that next) you can have alerts set up to come to your phone and email when prices for flights and hotels go down.
Creating a watch-list is an almost guaranteed way to ensure you get the best deal every time.
My favorite tool for flights is Hopper! Hopper is a mobile travel agent application. You can online use it on your phone which, for me, makes it super convenient! Check it out! I use it any time I want to travel because it’s constantly sending me notifications for flight and hotel deals. My favorite part about the app is that it will tell you if now is a good time to buy or if you should wait.
3. Do Your Research
Research long with planning will determine if you save. Research the best hotels that offer luxury and affordability, if that’s your thing. Research places where that are close to public transportation if you don’t plan on renting a car. Trust me, ubering everywhere adds up quickly. I did a lot of Google searches for our trip to Italy. You want to make the most of your experience, so don’t skimp out of the legwork. Make sure when you arrive at your destination you’re confident you got the best deals.
4. Consider Traveling during off-peak seasons
Knowing when to travel where can make such a big difference in your experience. Javaun and I were initially going to visit Italy for our first anniversary. 1. because it would be is super romantic and 2. because September is an off-peak season in Italy; so there would be fewer people, cooler temperatures, and it would be less expensive to travel. BUT, when we found out we were pregnant, we quickly had to do some adjusting.
Instead, we ended up going almost at the height of summer heat and tourism, literally, everyone went to Italy this summer. But we still had a great time! So when you plan your trip find out when it the best time to travel to that location.
5. Never Exchange your money at the Airport
Biggest rip off ever! Do this only if you’re desperate for cash, but even then ATM’s are always a better option.
6. Schedule Your Excursions Online
When looking for things to do it could save you a ton by purchasing tickets online. Often companies offer discounts, and you can skip lines if you already have your tickets on hand. Now, there are instances where you can save by waiting, but most times it’s the former; so plan ahead!
7. Don’t be afraid to search “Groupon” for Deals
Online coupon apps like Groupon is a great tool for avid travels and adventure seekers alike. They offer experiences you might not have considered if there wasn’t a coupon. However, just be sure to read the fine print, most times there is a catch. For example, those long vacations are always limited to specific dates.
8. Skip some of the “Touristy” Stuff
Skip the main events and consider living life like the locals. During our honeymoon, we got stuck in Puerto Rico for an additional week. We ended up finding an Airbnb in a local town outside of the tourist areas and rented a car. We ended up having just as much fun as the previous week and spent a quarter of what we did the week before. There are plenty of online forums and group chats and forums for travelers, so consider some alternatives before spending too much on the typical tour stops.
9. Opt-in for the long layover
Depending on your final destination, you want to consider including an overnight layover as part of your trip. Initially, we were going to travel to Istanbul for our long layover, but I missed that deal on Hopper 🙁 A long layover is almost like getting a two for one special for a vacation. This won’t always be possible, but it’s a cool way to plan an extra layer of fun to your trip. There a lot of day city excursions in cities with larger airports. The one thing to consider is some places do require a visa for you to visit. But if you have an American passport that shouldn’t be an issue.
10. Reconsider that travel insurance
We opted to get travel insurance just in case something happened during the pregnancy, and I couldn’t travel, that way we could get all of our money back. But in most cases, you can check with your existing insurance companies and see what coverage you already have that you might not be aware of. This could save you a few hundred bucks. But if you’re not covered, only purchase a plan for the length of trip and covered yourself 100% for the cost of the trip.
MY Directive: The world is so big, so don’t let a little thing like money be the reason you never see it.