EASY MONEY

Vacation calling? Here’s how to save on summer travel

The cost of travelling the world can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

Warm weather is on its way, which means it’s time to start thinking about your summer vacation plans. The cost of travelling the world can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. These tips and tricks will ensure that you’re getting the experiences you want without destroying your wallet.

Be flexible

If you’re flexible with your travel plans, then you can find some serious deals. First, consider where you want to go. Want to visit Asia? Thailand can be significantly cheaper than Japan. Prefer the Caribbean? The Dominican Republic offers more value compared to Jamaica. The day you depart can also make a difference. Flying out on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday will usually be cheaper than flights that take off Friday through Monday. Also, take a look at departure times. Morning flights are often less expensive than an evening or overnight flight. And if you’ve got the time, opting for a connecting flights instead of a direct route can also help you save.

Book early

Many companies offer incentives for booking well in advance of your trip. Contiki has a book early and save promotion that applies to itineraries all around the world while AccorHotels offers up to 30% off when you make a reservation at least 30 days in advance.

When it comes to flights, booking early also pays off. Sure, it’s possible that airfare prices will drop, but there’s also an equal chance of them going up. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll definitely end up paying a premium. To get the best deals, try to plan your travels at least six months in advance.

Do the math

When it comes to saving money on travel, everything starts with a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on travel and then try to put a little aside for your adventures every paycheque. Saving $200 every month for travel will add up to $2,400 to spend on vacation each year. Take as many trips as you want as long as you don’t exceed that amount. Alternatively, you could do a reverse budget. Let’s say you’re estimating a two week trip to Europe is going to cost you $3,750 and you’re not going away for 15 months. That means you need to put aside $250 a month to reach your goal. Having a defined budget keeps you on track and ensures you won’t come back home in debt.

Don’t eat out every meal

I love to eat, but trying to hit all the popular restaurants while on vacation can bust your bank account. Try to balance your meals by making trips to the grocery store where you can buy snacks, water, alcohol, and prepared meals. If you’re staying with AirBnB, you can can really cut back your expenses by cooking meals at home. Another way to eat cheap while abroad is to look for street food or markets where you can eat like a local. If you do decide to go to a restaurant, aim to go at lunch when prices tend to be lower.

Use the right tools

There are a ton of apps and tools out there that can help you save. Hopper predicts when airfare will go up or down so you can plan accordingly. For last minute travellers, Hotel Tonight will find you a cheap room that night. KAYAK has a price alerts feature which will email you directly when your selected route drops in price. When you make five reservations with Booking.com, you automatically become a member of their genius program which gives you discounts as well as early check in and late check out at select properties. If you’re a student, remember to bring your student card when you travel since many attractions and even some restaurants offer a student discount.

The final word

Travelling doesn’t need to be expensive, but you can quickly go over budget when you don’t plan things in advance. That being said, sometimes travelling is all about being spontaneous. If you plan your trip in advance, you’ll have the freedom to explore within your means from the minute you touch down. Whether you want to go backpacking in Malaysia or hang poolside in Miami, your dream destination is not out of reach.

Barry Choi is the Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert behind the blog Money We Have.