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Tips For Affordable Travel, Part 2

October 15, 2014

Do you love to travel? It’s hard not

Last week, I shared 6 tips to make your vacations more affordable. The options are endless if you get your creativity working. Here are 7 more of my favourite lessons learned from a recent adventure in Spain and Portugal.

1. Be Strategic– Multiple destinations require more thought. Can you avoid crowds at popular hot spots by re-routing or adjusting the timing of your visit? You don’t need (or want) a car in many large cities and the parking costs will eat you alive! Public transit can be a wise and cheaper option. Save on accomodation by staying outside major centres but near a transit stop. We did this in Madrid and were pleased with the outcome.

2. Negotiate Everything You Can– We North Americans forget that this is acceptable and common practice in many countries. Always negotiate pricing with your travel providers, especially if you are renting accommodations/apartments. Remember to use any travel rewards/programs or air miles to stretch your dollars further.

3. Live Like A Local – Savour The Culture And Save More! Don’t forget to look beyond the well known, popular recommendations. Some of our favourite meals out were at small, neighbourhood restaurants/cafes with fresh, home cooked delicacies and lively atmosphere. Staying in rental apartments gave us more space and allowed us to cook at home. Eating lunch out and dinner in is more economical than the reverse. Talking with locals provided us with the best tips for cost effective (or free) things to see and do.

4. On-line Research Helps– Next to personal recommendations, on-line, trusted resources can improve the quality of your analysis. Browsing images or traveller photos can help you decide where to travel. Trip Advisor is our favourite site for reviews of destinations, hotels, restaurants and more. Airbnb was excellent for our rental accommodations (which were much better value than hotel rooms!) A few other sites we use include expedia, VRBO and lonelyplanet.

5. See The Sights, Spend Less– Pay attention to entrance fees and choose wisely. On-line, advance tickets can be cheaper than paying at the door. How many churches or museums in Spain do you really need to see? Often, some of the “free” sites are equally impressive and crowd-free. Hop-on-hop-off sightseeing buses can be great but not always necessary. Smaller cities might be better seen by walking and picture taking is easier. Don’t forget the obviously free activities too… finding a secluded beach, people-watching in a neighbourhood cafe, enjoying nature, hiking/biking or walking, taking a scenic drive. Your wallet will thank you.

6. Consider Cost-Sharing– Like group travel, the more people you have, the more deals you may get! Two couples sharing an apartment, home, car/taxi or even groceries can cut travel costs considerably. Word of caution- make sure your travel buddies are compatible first!

7. Can’t Afford A Vacation? Think Outside The Box– Are you willing to backpack, stay in hostels or camp? Would you consider a volunteer trip to help out a great cause while seeing the world? Have you thought about a house swap? Or considered working while travelling or a skills exchange? If travel is important to you and your budget is tight, these options are well worth reviewing.

Finally, here’s a fun and science-based infographic on how to have a happy vacation. Maybe it’s time that you do as well?!

Have your own cost saving ideas for a great trip? Would love to hear about them!

Proud founder of this blog Let’s Talk About Money, Patricia Gass, CPA, CA, provides personal finance coaching and education to improve your money skills

Image: View from Dom Luis Bridge, Porto, Portugal 

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