In today’s economy, you might feel that a summer vacation is a luxury you can’t afford. But if you’re willing to plan ahead and step outside your usual routine, you can take that trip of a lifetime and still manage to hold onto a good portion of your money.
To get you started on your next travel adventure, here are some money-saving tips to consider.
Packaged tours may be easier to arrange, but you’re paying for the convenience. If you are willing to book everything yourself, you could save a lot of money during your travels. For example, book your own hotels; eat at local diners; hire local guides; or discover the city on foot instead of by tour bus. These are small changes, but you could save hundreds of dollars.
Choose the right destination
Some destinations are more expensive than others. Before you set your heart on a trip to the Maldives, do a little research. You may find you can travel to another equally exciting destination for half the cost. Look for places with good infrastructure for independent travel so you can stretch your dollars.
Shop around when booking flights
To find a good deal, start by searching the internet; there are several excellent discount travel sites to compare prices. Or, take the information you’ve gathered and visit a travel agent. Believe it or not, travel agents can usually still find you the best deal.
If your travel dates are flexible, many airlines offer cheaper rates on certain days. Give yourself a window of two to three days and you could secure a better deal.
But don’t cheap out on travel insurance! Read the fine print and make sure you have the coverage you need. For more information, see our sidebar article on Emergency Medical Travel Insurance and purchasing additional travel coverage.
Use alternative accommodations
Consider renting a camper van. Many campgrounds in Europe have full amenities
(including swimming pools) and are located near cities served by free shuttle service.
Hostels are also becoming popular outside of the backpacking world, with private rooms more readily available.
Fly from an alternative airport
Flying from Canada can sometimes be expensive, whereas you could save a few hundred dollars just by flying from the United States. If you live near the border, look for fares on departures leaving from the closest American airport.
Also, while a direct flight is more comfortable, you’ll find that allowing for layovers will be much cheaper than flying direct. Plus, you could end up discovering a new place during your layover!
Determine the cost ahead of time
Before you take a taxi from the airport, find out what the fare should be by doing some research at home and stating your destination with confidence. Ask the price and do the calculation before you accept the ride. If the price is way out of line, say no and bargain for a lower rate. Prices can vary, but double and triple the standard fare is unacceptable.
The same can be said for accommodations and tours. It’s easy to find information about basic hotel costs and various tours online. If you are quoted an outrageous price, don’t be afraid to ask for a cheaper deal. In many countries, bartering is normal and expected.
Calculate the exchange
Calculate the Canadian currency equivalent before settling on a price. Sometimes, the price will sound great when quoted in the local currency, but when you convert it later, you realize you were overcharged. There’s nothing wrong with using a currency conversion phone app or pulling out a calculator. It can be much easier to enter in a number and show the merchant what you want to pay.
Learn the local language
Last but not least, learn a bit of the local language. “Hello,” “thank you” and “goodbye” can go a long way to breaking the ice.
Remember, the more you know about your destination, the more money you will save. Happy and safe travels!