4 Ways to Travel for Less

This summer, travel was expensive, with gas prices up and plane tickets higher than ever. Along with the cost, the crowds were overwhelming.

Now the trees are turning colors, and you still want to get away. Is it possible to take a relaxing vacation before the end of the year? More importantly, can you afford to?

The good news is that it can all happen with some solid research and prior planning. Let’s look at four ways to travel for significantly less money during this wonderful time of year.

Use a Specific Card For Travel

Wherever you decide to go, and whatever you decide to do, use the card that works best for you. Aim to use your debit card so you can enjoy your jaunt without racking up debt.

Your bank probably has a secure app connected to your card, so you can monitor transactions and keep to a budget.

Also, most debit cards are now affiliated with Mastercard or Visa and so are accepted in many places worldwide. That’s doubly beneficial if you’re traveling overseas, as it can help you avoid costly currency exchange bureaus.

If you have a loyalty card with a particular airline or hotel chain, now is the time to use it. Check your accumulated points, add in some money, and see where you can go.

If you don’t have a card already but want one, there are often reward points and deals just for signing up. 

Steer Around the Holidays

The busiest travel day of the year is the Tuesday before Thanksgiving; airports are crowded, tickets are expensive, and flights are commonly delayed.

Highway travel is also crowded, and hotels are solidly booked. If you can convince loved ones to gather sometime other than Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, cheaper travel is often possible.

Plan your Thanksgiving gathering before the actual day, and start looking at airfares now; they’re significantly lower than they will be.

Try a combined Thanksgiving/Christmas meetup between the two holidays or a post-Christmas gathering to ring in the New Year.

Airfares will be in a lull between the holidays, with a definite price drop in January. Hotels and resorts will be looking to fill up rooms between and after the holidays as well, with great deals available.

Remember to look at hotels with good breakfasts or happy hours included to save on food costs. 

3. Seek Out Unique and Inexpensive Experiences

You’re traveling at an off-peak time, and you’re using a loyalty airline card, but now you have to figure out where to go. Cruises, especially during the off-season, can be a cost-effective choice.

Take the family on a “repositioning” cruise, when the company moves a ship from one area to another, say the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.

Such journeys have all the amenities of regular cruises, but because they happen in the cruise lines’ off-seasons, they’re much cheaper. 

If cruises don’t appeal to you, all-inclusive resorts might. These literally have everything you could possibly want, and you’ll find them in beautiful locations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Such resort packages include your room or suite, all meals, various activities, and private beaches. Many are family-friendly and offer activities for kids so their parents can take time for themselves.

You won’t have to consult your wallet before you two order a second poolside mai tai — they’re already included.

Put in the Work to Enable Low-Cost Longer-Term Travel

If you’re willing to put in some physical effort, there are extraordinary low-cost experiences out there for travelers. Many adventurers hike all or part of the Appalachian Trail, where a hostel bunk costs as little as $20 per night.

Plus, you sure won’t have to worry about the price of gas! Another popular foot-powered adventure is the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route in Spain. There, church-run allergies have provided inexpensive lodgings to walkers for centuries.  

Another way to afford longer-term travel is to participate in a work exchange. Sign up on sites like Workaway or Worldpackers and get matched with hostels, farms, or other volunteer programs around the world.

You offer up your skills, whether those be in food service, languages, harvesting, teaching, or something else. In turn, you get room and meals and a chance to use those skills for a set period of time.

Several countries, such as New Zealand, issue year-long working holiday visas, offering a unique way to see a country in an inexpensive way. 

Small Savings Add Up

When you’re looking to save some money on travel, remember that everything — absolutely everything — counts. Sometimes airlines will bundle flights with hotels and/or rental cars, and the savings can be significant.

A favorite restaurant chain in the city you’re visiting could be running a special deal or offering an online coupon. If your hotel room has a fridge, stash some sandwich makings there from the local grocery and avoid lunching out. 

Everything from minimizing restaurant meals to using cheap gas locator apps can keep more green in your pocket.

So don’t give up on your getaway dreams because you fear the budgetary bite. With research and preparation, you can save considerably and be ready for any kind of travel.

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