As Preppers we spend a good deal of our time preparing for the “what if’s” that life can throws at us. Let’s face it, we are planners above all else and we factor that into our parenting, our civic responsibilities, our sense of family, we plan and we hope for the best.
But I propose we are also explorers in a sense. Not only do we like to know what is all around us but we also want to know what is over that next ridge, on the other side of that up slope, down in that valley or around that far bend in the river. Again, I think, for the spirit of adventure in us all, but definitely for our planning. To know what is out there.
As such I have often planned spur of the moment trips to places I have not seen before and the reality is, that is an expensive hobby. So I though I would share some tips on how to keep moving without busting the bank. So, if you are looking for travel bargains there are some to be found.
Do you, like me, have an insane urge to plan a vacation? When you wake up, do you think of places you can visit during long weekends? Do you look at the cost of airline tickets and hotel rooms during your spare time and rant about how everything is so expensive?
Well, then you are probably showing symptoms of being bitten by the travel bug. In extreme cases, it may even turn into a serious case of wanderlust. The only cure is travel. But with travel being so expensive, can you afford this treatment, this temporary cure?
Yes, you can, if you plan!
Here are 7 simple ways to reduce costs while travelling:
Travel During the Off-Season
This is probably the easiest way to save money and enjoy your holiday. During the off-season, airline tickets will cost less and so will hotels. In fact, you could probably end up staying at a hotel that you probably wouldn’t have been able to afford if you travelled during the peak season.
What’s more, off-season travel also means fewer tourists. So, you won’t have to brave the crowds to see a popular monument or travel to a foreign country only to get lost in the crowds.
Spend in Local Currency
This tip is probably going to save you a lot of money. Especially if you intend to use your credit card for most of your spending. The reason being, each time you decide to convert a purchase from the local currency to your home currency, you are charged a conversion fee. This conversion fee usually ranges between 2% to 3%. Add to this, the merchant may provide you with a poor conversion rate.
If you are wondering why the merchant decides the exchange rate and not the bank, it is all thanks to a service known as Dynamic Currency Conversion or DCC. DCC is provided by a third-party who acts as the middleman between the merchant and your card issuer which also charges at least 1%.
Ditch the Hotels
When you plan for a holiday or do some quick math to see how much you spent during your vacation, you will realise that a large chunk of your money goes (or went) towards your stay. Especially if you are holidaying during peak seasons.
If you aren’t too fussy about luxury amenities, then you could consider staying in a hostel. A great alternative to hostels is CouchSurfing. Here, you can find people who are willing to host guests in their home at a minimal cost.
Better yet, look for an Airbnb. You will be able to find wonderful places to stay that fit your budget. Through an Airbnb or a bed and breakfast, you will also come across some locals who will show you what it is like to live like them. They will also be able to warn you about overpriced and pesky tourist traps.
Use Credit Card Points
If you have a travel credit card that allows you to earn miles for every $ that you spend, then plan ahead for your holiday. Once you have the required number of air miles, you can easily exchange those miles for flight tickets! If you don’t travel often or are saving up to travel to your dream destination, then you should consider getting a credit card which offers reward points that don’t expire. This way you will be able to convert your points to miles, whenever you decide to travel!
Most credit cards also allow you to convert your points to hotel loyalty points. This way, you won’t have to pay a lot while booking your stay. In fact, the hotels with which these credit cards have tie-ups are almost always some of the most luxurious ones such as the Hilton or the Marriott.
Hire a Vehicle
Public transport can be pretty expensive and pretty confusing if you don’t know where exactly to go. One way to circumvent this problem and save money is to hire a vehicle and split the cost with your co-passengers. Of course, this works best if you are traveling in a group. If you are travelling on your own and have a global driver’s license, then you can even rent a car for the period of your stay.
If you are travelling on your own, you could also consider walking short distances. It’s a great way to see the place while saving money!
Save on Entry Fees
While researching places to visit, you will soon realise that almost every tourist attraction will charge you an entry fee. One that is astronomical for foreigners. Instead of doing what every tourist does, look for places that have free entry. Some museums have free entries because they may not be as popular among tourists. Consider going there. You could also ask locals about any street carnivals or fairs in town, and enjoy that free of cost.
Only ever pay the entry fee if you think that you shouldn’t miss out on a particular attraction. And skip the guided tours. You can get the same information from reading up before going to a particular museum or monument.
My late wife and I were planning a trip to Hawaii, a few days on Maui and a few on Oahu and when I called United to use frequent-flyers miles the agent was unable to accommodate our plans to travel from Los Angeles to Honolulu and then onto Maui and return home from there. I hung up the phone disappointed and considered spending the $1,400 on air fare. After I moment I called United again, different agent of course, and asked if I could travel from Los Angeles to Maui and then onto Oahu 5 days later and return home from their using frequent-flyer miles and BINGO it worked, in fact it worked so well we got upgraded to first-class on the red-eye home which was a life saver since the 5-hour flight, once out on the active runway was delayed another 3-hours due to weather. That “one more try” saved us $1,400. (and 8+ hours in a coach seat.)
Purchase Travel Insurance
Buy to save? That’s right! Travel insurance can end up saving you a lot of money. While you may think that your holiday will be smooth sailing, there are never any guarantees. Your flight may be cancelled, the airline could lose your luggage, you could lose travel documents, or even fall sick while abroad. These are just some of the things that could happen. Almost all travel insurance policies provide coverage for such events.
This way, if something were to go wrong, you are at least protected up to the coverage amount as stated on your policy. Even if you are sure that you don’t need insurance while travelling, just think about the amount you will end up saving if things were to go south while you are holidaying.
These are just a few ways to reduce how much you spend while travelling. The most important thing to remember, though, is that while saving money is good, you shouldn’t make it the focal point of your travels. The most important part of your holiday should be to enjoy it to the fullest and make some wonderful memories on the way!
There is an old saying that travel is the only way to spend money that makes you richer. Don’t know that the practical side of me agrees with that but it certainly does enrich your life. Be safe out there.
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