It’s almost winter here in the Western Hemisphere. This is a spectacular time to travel, both domestically and abroad! Prices are low, crowds are lower, and hotels and attractions are more desperate for the revenue. I love traveling in the off-season: I love the attentive treatment, the quiet aisles, the slower pace. Here are some really great tips I’ve acquired for making the most of your winter vacation on a budget:
- Pre-plan EVERYTHING. That includes your itinerary, travel stops, hotel stays, and even your meal plans. Impulse purchases and desperate measure wind up breaking the bank. Be prepared for everything and pre-plan as much as you can.
- Use the Internet. Compare prices everywhere. Take advantage of the advice and offers at discount travel websites. Quite often, you can get a good chunk of money taken off prices just by going through a discount intermediary. I have saved money on admission prices and hotels by using such sites. Moreover, such websites also have excellent tips and advice on other money-saving techniques. Use the Internet to read up on budget travel tips and look for links to save money at various travel venues. Tip: look for “community-based” travel sites where you can gain from traveler’s experiences and learn much from their opinions.
- Don’t take the pets or the kids. Of course, this may be difficult. But if the kids are whining about another trip to Paris or Milan again!?, why take them? It’s easier and cheaper to travel with a single companion.
- Avoid tour groups and tour transportation. If you are traveling to Europe, transportation is easier– public transportation abounds, and it’s not all that difficult to walk to your destinations. Tip: Be SURE to plan ahead and bring maps! Some maps in France or Italy are, uh, in French or Italian! So either learn the language or bring your own maps!
- Buy gift certificates for restaurants and stores to use on your vacation. This will help you stick to your budget by helping you resist that temptation to “splurge.” Set a pre-decided amount on how much you want to spend on an evening meal, and get gift certificates for yourself.
- Find hotels outside the city limits. Most hotels in the heart of the tourist quarters of a city are going to charge an arm and leg. Avoid this by seeking hotels outside the city limits, perhaps near an airport or other “undesirable” location. You’re going to be gone during the day; why get a hotel room with 200,000 TV channels, a hot tub, a swimming pool and a gym? Of course, being outside the city means you will have to plan your accommodations for transport. This is why it helps to pre-plan thoroughly.
- Do things on your vacation that don’t cost money. Avoid visiting every museum, and take a walk through the local parks. Visit free museums and other free attractions. Window-shop in various stores. Take walks by the water. You’re on a vacation to relax, right? Enjoy the area you are visiting by slowing things down and absorbing the local atmosphere of the place. This is my favorite way to travel– it’s very relaxing, and it’s very cheap!
I hope my little snippets of travel advice have helped. I haven’t been to Paris or Milan or Perth, but I love to travel, no matter where it is. And no matter where you’re from and where you’re going, everyone likes to keep costs down. Enjoy the vacation by planning ahead, which will enable you to relax and slow down enough to really enjoy the place you’re visiting. And save that budget! 😉