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January 13, 2022
Six Tips for Traveling on a Budget
A new year sparks new dreams, and for many of us, that means travel plans. Nearly 80% of Americans plan to take a wish list trip in the coming months, according to a new survey from Hilton, and a whopping 59% of respondents plan to take a bucket list vacation that they wouldn’t have considered before the pandemic. Before you go, whether you’re planning a dream vacation or a quick weekend getaway, take some time to consider these six tips for traveling on a budget.
Choose your vacation priorities.
Dream vacation means different things to different people, so it’s important to ask yourself what your vacation priorities are. Is there a city or country you’ve always wanted to visit? Are you interested in any specific sites, like national parks or museums? Do you want to immerse yourself in a new cultural experience? Or, is a hearty amount of rest and relaxation your end game? Laying out a clear list of what you want out of your vacation will help narrow down your travel plans.
Make a vacation budget plan and start saving.
Traveling without a set budget can lead to overspending. Before the fun part of your vacation can begin, it’s important to map out what your trip will cost and what you can afford to spend. Even if a detailed travel itinerary is not for you, try to give yourself a blueprint for how much you’re prepared to spend in major categories. Remember to consider costs for transportation, hotels, dining, entertainment and any specific activities that are on your must-do list.
The bigger your trip, the more time you’ll need to save up. Working on your vacation fund? Use the Savings Goals tool in online and mobile banking to create and track multiple savings goals.1 Prefer a specific account to keep your vacation fund separate? Club Accounts are a great option.2
Travel in the off-season.
If you’re aiming to save money on your vacation and can be flexible about dates, this might be the best budget travel tip. Think about going to popular destinations during less popular times, also known as the off-season. For example, you may opt for a beach vacation in October through February, when fewer tourists are flocking to the area. When hotels are desperate to fill rooms, they tend to cut their rates, which can mean big savings for you. Car rentals, flights and more are often cheaper in the off-season, so bargain-hunters, consider being flexible with your travel dates.
Book flights at the right time.
No one has a fool-proof solution for getting the absolute rock bottom rate on flights, since rates can fluctuate day to day, hour by hour. But there are some best practices for finding the most reasonable rates you can. According to CheapAir’s Annual Study on Domestic Flights, you should get your ticket an average of 64 days before your trip when flying domestically to be within 5% of the lowest price point. The study also showed that seasonality is a factor, with the cheapest flights found 84 days prior to a spring trip, 67 days for summer, 89 days for fall and 94 days for winter. That means don’t wait until the last minute before your trip, but don’t plan more than four months ahead, either. For travel outside the U.S., CheapAir’s Annual Study on International Flights shows that the perfect time to book depends mostly on the destination country, with recommendations fluctuating widely between 1.5 months to nearly a year ahead. Researching flights for your specific destination is particularly important for international travel.
Much like with any purchase, comparison shopping can lead to big savings. Shop around online using travel comparison tools, such as Expedia, Kayak or many others to find the best rates for your trip.3 Make sure to keep in mind any fees these services may charge, so look at the bottom line price to get a real comparison. Some hotels actually offer best price guarantees when you book with them directly, so keep this in mind as you research prices to decide what works best for your trip.
Consider all-inclusive vacations.
All-inclusive vacation packages are available for many popular destinations and vacation types, including cruises. They aren’t going to be the absolute cheapest option every time, but going the all-inclusive route can be a great way to lock in your spending total ahead of time. You’ll know exactly what you need to have saved up, which can keep you from busting your budget. Be aware of the potential for costly add-ons that might not be in the budget (like day trips or additional excursions) and make sure you understand what is and isn’t included, so you can plan accordingly for all expenses. If you do find an all-inclusive deal but aren’t sure if it’s worth it, do a side-by-side comparison of what you’d spend on each element individually, like hotel, dining and transportation. That will help you decide if the all-inclusive option works for you.
You might think traveling on a budget isn’t possible, but with the right amount of research, planning and saving, you can still make a great vacation a reality. We hope you can put these budget travel tips to good use in 2022 and finally take the dream vacation you’ve had in mind.
1Additional data charges may apply. Please see your wireless carrier for more information.
2Grow Savings Accounts are subject to ChexSystems® approval.
3Grow is not affiliated with Expedia or Kayak.
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