Lack of money is probably the number one reason people give for not getting away more; but, while vacations may be seen as indulgent, especially when times are tough, they are an important tool in unwinding , recharging and staying mentally fresh. There is nothing wrong with placing a high priority on finding time to get away if you can come up with the funds to do so. With some careful planning and thorough research, there is a trip out there for any budget. Here are some tips for traveling on the cheap and still having a good time.
Do Your Research
This one sounds obvious but many people fail to really do their homework; if you are looking to plan a great vacation on a budget, you cannot skip this step. You may have a bunch of places in mind because they are popular vacation spots but do you actually know anything about them or what is actually there to do once you get there? By carefully vetting possible destinations, you can find out important information that is pertinent to your budget, such as city passes that allow you to access multiple attractions at a steep discount.
When it comes to planning a specific trip, we tend to have very specific ideas of what we want to do and when we want to do it. If you really need to watch your spending, flexibility will be your friend. When you have some leeway on dates, use it to your advantage to get the cheapest prices—you may love the idea of skiing during Christmas but this is going to cost you; take that same trip earlier or later in the winter season and you will have just as good a time, I promise you. When you do not have wiggle room on your dates, and you can only travel during certain times, you may have to go with your second or third choice for a destination if your first is experiencing its high season with matching high prices. While there is nothing wrong with cutting some corners to be able to afford a vacation, you do not want to be on such a tight budget that you really cannot reasonably enjoy what the place has to offer.
Carefully Evaluate those Awesome Deals
To entice customers and win their business, hotels, airlines, cruise lines and various other travel-related sites and businesses come up with all sorts of great offers. Most of the time, there is some sort of catch, or multiple catches. This does not necessarily mean it is a bad deal, but you have to carefully evaluate them, and have a full understanding of what you are getting and what you may not be getting. Staying in a hotel outside the center of the city can still make for an enjoyable trip but consider if it is worth the hassle—15 extra minutes of walking, no problem; having to spend 45 minutes on a local bus that is making its way through the city traffic may be. There will usually be sacrifices, and you have to decide if you can personally deal with them, or you may find yourself having a very bad time on your vacation.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has written extensively about various travel topics; if you are traveling through Washington state, check out the qualify accommodations at the Rodeway Inn Hotel in Tacoma Washington.