Travel is one of the most rewarding, life-affirming investments you can make. A great trip away from home can give you perspective on your own life, show you how others live, and also provide some much needed relaxation and fun. But working travel into your calendar can feel daunting and impossibly expensive, especially when planning for international trips or extended vacations. So here are 5 budget-conscious ways to include travel into your calendar. These tips will allow you to save wisely, make informed decisions, and get on your way to your well-earned vacation—all without breaking the bank.
Set Aside a Monthly Travel Budget.
As simple as it may sound, putting aside a set amount of money each month is the best way to prepare for a big trip. It demonstrates a commitment to including travel in your calendar and forces you to work towards a goal each month. It also allows you to save up over a period of time, so that your travel expenses are pre-paid when it comes time to book your big trip.
Sign Up for Travel Alerts and Promos
Many travel websites offer email alerts and monthly travel promotions. Sign up for several of these lists and check them frequently. You’ll begin to notice patterns: some cities are cheaper to fly through than others, certain companies may offer package deals, and certain times of the year are more costly to travel. If you keep track of this information now, you’ll make a much more informed decision when it comes time to buy airfare for, say, that Patagonia vacation you’ve been wanting to take.
Seek Out Non-Traditional Places to Stay
Hotels aren’t the only places that offer comfortable lodging. Depending on where you travel, hostels, camping, and even home stays may offer affordable and equally commodious housing options. Do your research and you may end up in a perfectly wonderful hostel full of other travelers looking for adventure. It’s a great way to meet people with like interests, and you may even be able to split costs of food or activities if you divide them amongst a large group.
Use a Credit Card to Earn Travel Points
Many major credit card companies offer cards that give you cash back on travel-related purchases, or have great rewards programs with Airlines. Capitalize on these offers and use one card to make all travel arrangements. These programs—if used wisely—can save you a lot of money over time, and often give you updates on great travel promotions. Some cards even waive international usage fees, which can save you between $3-10 per transaction.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The last budget-conscious way to include travel into your calendar is to always plan. It may seem like a no-brainer, but doing your research before you spend your money means that you can usually make it go a lot farther. Learn when the high and low seasons of travel are, be aware of alternative lodging possibilities, and never go with the first option when booking a travel arrangement. It can mean the difference between a $200/night hotel on a loud boardwalk or a serene, beachside $100 hotel just 5 minutes away.
There you have it. Five easy tips allowing you to incorporate travel into your calendar without sacrificing a year’s-wroth of heard-earned money. Safe and happy travels!