Everyone deserves a vacation, but for some, the costs and headaches involved in planning make it hard to even get started.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can take a vacation without falling prey to outrageous costs. If you’re serious about getting away but want to keep costs down, it will take some concentrated planning, budgeting, and a willingness to try new things.
With these essential tips in your back pocket, you can stop dreaming about travel, and start making it a reality.
Being smart about your travel dates can be one of the simplest ways to reduce travel costs. If you decide to go to a warm-weather destination in the middle of winter, there’s probably plenty of other people who had the same idea. This ultimately drives up demand, causing hotels and airlines to raise their prices.
Instead, look for off-peak travel dates. Some online travel tools allow you to search travel options on a range of times based on your hometown airport. Want to travel in fall 2018? Find out what destinations have the lowest prices and compare your options to land on the most cost-effective, and fun, trip.
You can also get more bang for your buck by looking into popular travel destinations during the time between peak and off-peak seasons. Let’s say you want to head to Florida’s east coast in the winter when prices will be sky-high. However, you find out that peak season starts in mid-November, so if you travel during the first weeks of the month, you’ll get a good chance of ideal weather and entertainment, without paying full price. Not bad, right?
Choose hotel alternatives
Nowadays there is almost no reason to pay hotel prices for accommodation, no matter where you are traveling. With new travel platforms, you can stay in a comfortable home with typically far more space than a hotel room, for just a fraction of the price. There are plenty of apps and companies that make it easy to do everything from renting a room in someone’s place, to renting an entire apartment—all at excellent locations, for prices that are still less than a hotel.
Staying at a vacation rental can also save you more during your trip. When you stay at a hotel, you have to eat out every night, whether you’re “staying in” at a hotel restaurant, convenient but costly room service, or going out somewhere else. With a vacation rental, you get a kitchen, which means you have the option to shop at grocery stores and cook your own food, all for a fraction of the price of restaurants. If you’re traveling with a family or group, having the option to skip higher costs and the stress of making reservations will save you both headaches and money.
Keep in mind that you may not get the same services with a vacation rental as you would a hotel. Housekeeping is typically not included, done once a week or must be requested. You also won’t have a concierge on-site for quick questions, or the amenities you might expect at a large hotel.
Shop around for rental cars
Do not book the first car rental option you see; it’s crucial that you compare prices directly at their sites to those on travel sites.
Rental car pricing can be the hardest cost to figure out on your travels. You can sign up directly through a rental car company’s site and be quoted $400 for a week, while at the same time getting an offer for a deal for half that cost from the same car company on a travel site. Do not book the first car rental option you see; it’s crucial that you compare prices directly at their sites to those on travel sites.
Also, many rental car companies offer discounts to members of particular organizations. Find the company that offers the best prices combined with your member discount to save the most.
Finally, if you do reserve a car directly through a rental car company, sign up for their free membership program immediately. These programs usually offer discounts on your rentals as well as perks like not having to wait in line when picking up your vehicle.
Offset your travel costs with a cash-back debit card
Wouldn’t it be great if someone rewarded you for every dollar you spent while on vacation? With a Green Dot 5% Cash Back Visa® Debit Card, that’s exactly what you’ll get—up to $100 a year. Just remember that many hotels and car rental companies do place large authorization holds on debit card payments, which means the money held will be unavailable until the final transaction has posted to your account. To avoid complications, we always recommend calling the hotel or car rental company ahead of time to better understand what their policy is regarding the use of prepaid debit cards.
Who wouldn’t want to get some money back while on vacation? Check out Green Dot’s simple fees here and get your very own Green Dot 5% Cash Back Visa Debit Card. With Green Dot, you can say goodbye to traveling with wads of cash and enjoy using your card everywhere Visa Debit is accepted in the U.S.