Vacation, all I ever wanted, was a pop song by the Go-Go’s back in the 80s, but more importantly it’s how we feel most of the year. We long to break up the months with faraway destinations and all-inclusive resorts. We daydream, plan and then eagerly count down the days to the next sojourn to the beaches of Limin Hersonissos or cultural tour of Italy. A road trip to Napa Valley wouldn’t be bad either, nor would a week of golfing or exploring the Faneromeni Caves. But what do you do if money makes the world go round’ and you’re on a shoestring budget? Hunting for sun-kissed deals is the name of the game when it comes to traveling, and there are those out there who probably like the thrill of finding the sale more than getting sand stuck in their swimsuit or looking at Renaissance art. However, for those who like the destination as much as the journey, here a 5 surefire ways to save money when you travel.
1. Plan your vacation for the off-season
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to Walt Disney World or planning an international holiday, flights and hotels are cheaper during certain times of the year. The off-season also brings less of a tourist crowd. Try traveling to the Grand Canyon in the summer or the Magic Kingdom over February school break and it feels like rush hour in New York City. Remember: This is what you’re taking a vacation from.
2. Bring food and snacks
Whether you’re cruising across legendary Route 66 or doing the Jimmy Buffet drive down coastal Route 1, bring a cooler (or two). When you’re traveling by car, it’s easy to spend a fortune on meals. Once you start eating breakfast at Denny’s and dinner at Applebee’s every night, money is going to burn a hole in the pocket of your Bermuda shorts. Stop at local grocery stores and buy all the things you need to prepare a picnic. A little culinary creativity goes a long way in saving money.
3. Protect Yourself
One of the biggest dangers facing domestic and international travelers today is identity theft. However, you can protect your personal information when you sign up with an identity theft service like Lifelock. It doesn’t matter if you’re using your debit card at a hotel, restaurant or gas station, electronic payment systems can be easily compromised. Lifelock will safeguard you against any threat.
4. Get your car checked out
Before you put the roof-racks on your car or hook up the trailer, take your automobile to a mechanic and have him give it a thorough once-over. Be sure the fluid levels are topped off. Having the oil replaced and the spark plugs changed will enhance fuel efficiency. Preventative maintenance will keep you safe and save you money. Of course, becoming a member of AAA is highly recommended before you embark on a any trip.
5. Creative Accomodations
Depending on your personality, there are more unconventional and money-saving accommodation styles available across the world than ever before. House swapping has become popular. However, other Internet networks like CouchSurfing and the Evergreen Bed and Breakfast Club (for people over 50) cater to a free spirited, European hostel type of crowd. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly a way to meet new people and save money.
When it comes to traveling on a shoestring budget, there are a million creative ways to cut corners. However, just remember not to cut all the joy out of your holiday. You can always compensate for that day or two of splurging once you get back home.