For example, if you need $2,000 USD for the trip you’re taking in eight months, that means you only have to save $8.33 per day. Couldn’t you find a way to save $8 per day? Heck, your daily coffee is most of that! Here are three easy tips that produce big wins:
Wanderfly: Start with your departure city and interests, then complete your search with a projected budget, time of year, and trip duration. The rich photography on this site is enough to inspire wanderlust.
You can learn a lot about a destination through its food and drink, and you can even plan a trip by eating your way through a destination. For some people that is their favorite thing about travel. Is that you?
So you know where you’re going and how long you’ll be there, but to really nail down how much money you need, your next task is to research the costs in your destination at the style of travel you want. Do you want to backpack, or would you rather stay in luxury hotels? How much are hostels, hotels, restaurants, and attractions? Knowing will allow you to estimate how much money you’ll need for your trip. You can begin with my travel guide section or simply buy a guidebook (which are really good for things like this).
Hiring a pet sitter to come to your home may be the best option for animals who do not adapt well to new environments. If you have dogs, be sure that the pet sitter has been to your house (several times if possible) while you are home so that the dogs understand that the person is allowed to be in the house.
Don’t give banks any of your hard-earned money. Save every extra dollar you can by using a no-fee ATM card. I use Charles Schwab, but there are lots of other banks (don’t forget to check your local banks) that don’t charge ATM fees. Additionally, you can join a bank in the Global ATM Alliance.
There is a lot of information on this website (and even more information packed into my book), but one question that comes up frequently is “Matt, how do I put this all together? Tell me where to start.”
Off-peak season. This is when the majority of tourists aren’t visiting a destination — typically due to weather (e.g., a ski lodge in the summer). You’ll normally find very affordable flights and accommodations during this time, but on the flip side, there’s usually a reason for it being “off-peak.” In some countries, off-peak can mean a monstrous monsoon happens nearly every day.
Time to start saving! Write down all your current expenses so you can determine where you are spending money and how you can cut back. People bleed a lot of money every day through small purchases: that bottle of water, the dollar for that snack, that extra coffee. All of that adds up and creating this breakdown can let you know where you need to cut and save.
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Also don’t ignore an amazing flight deal because it’s departing from a different airport than the one closest to you. Remember how it’s important to be flexible on when you leave? Same goes for where you leave.
First and foremost the pricing is the same, when booking with a travel agent you have someone that has your back. If you have a problem in destination and you booked it online who are you going to contact?
Determining where to stay can be quite overwhelming especially if it’s your first time traveling there and you don’t know anyone who can give you personal advice. Guides on sites like Airbnb and Foursquare make it helpful for travelers to learn more about various neighborhoods and businesses around there. It’s also helpful to browse city forums on TripAdvisor or even specific subreddits to get a sense of what locals / other travelers recommend.
Hey Ashley, glad you found our tips for planning a trip useful. Yeah, a pre-paid travel card is not our favorite option and wouldn’t be our first choice, but we like to have multiple ways to access our cash whilst on the road. So just adding it in there for people to consider.
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Not having travel insurance on an overseas trip (or domestic) is not worth the risk. Anything can, will, and sometimes goes wrong. If it does and you are not insured, you can be up for a lot of money AND inconvenience.
Talk to your doctor or health care professional knowledgeable about travel vaccines. Visit them at least 2 months before departure as some vaccinations need to be started six to eight weeks before departure and require more than one shot spread out over time.
No matter how long you’ll be gone, it’s a good idea to let your credit card companies know you will be overseas; that way any transactions that you make aren’t flagged as fraudulent and your card is less likely to be blocked. There’s nothing worse than having to sit on the phone with your credit card company instead of enjoying your vacation.
One of the simplest tools to use if you’re flexible is Google Flights’ Discover Destinations search. You can narrow search results from your home airport down length of travel, time of year, and / or continent and see a map research of how much it’ll cost to get there. You can even specify destinations by interests, such as “beaches,” “ecotourism,” or “honeymoon” to get some popular recommendations. From there, you can narrow results even further by setting a max price limit or choosing only nonstop flights.
And if you already have a passport, what is the expiration date? Most countries require that your passport is valid for six months beyond your date of stay and it has enough empty pages for stamps/visas.
If you need even more ideas, sites like Booking.com’s Destination Finder can also help you figure out where to go depending on interests. Once you know where you’re going, you can use tools from Kayak and Hopper to check whether a flight price is good value.
Scott’s Cheap Flights. A tried-and-true resource when it comes to finding error deals. Scott’s offers a free newsletter that’ll notify you whenever they find a deal along with instructions on how to book it.
Not all cities have public transit directions in Google Maps. Before you can get transit directions, your local transit agency needs to add their route info to Google Maps. See which cities are covered.
Call the concierge at the hotel you’re staying at and ask whether the hotel offers complimentary or reduced-fee shuttle service to and from the airport. If they don’t, ask for any advice on local ground transportation.
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List what is important to you in a hotel. Consider options like free breakfast, free wifi, in-room amenities like mini-fridge, microwave, and television, as well as options like having a good view or being near public transit lines.
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Choose activities everyone can participate in. Make sure you think of all of your travel companions when booking activities. If you are traveling with children, be sure planned activities are kid-friendly. If someone in your group has health or dietary considerations, try to be respectful of those as you plan the trip.
Sarah Pascarella has a master’s degree in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College, where she specialized in magazine writing and nonprofit publishing. She is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the New England Writers association.
Okay, you’re inspired, prepared, and on your way to saving money for your trip. But before you go buy that flight or book that hotel, check for deals you might have missed. You may dream of Paris but maybe there are great deals to Berlin right now. Maybe you can get a seven-day cruise for 70% off, a package deal to Hawaii for the price of your flight to Paris, or 50% off sailing trips around Greece.
After you’ve used your travel credit card and received your sign-up bonus, use your miles to book your flight. It is harder to use miles these days due to less availability, so make sure to book early to insure you get your desired flight.
Coincidentally we will be in Rome for the canonization in April, that should prove interesting. Hopefully, the person who rented us an apt in Trestavere will not come up with some excuse as the demand will be high.
At TripAdvisor, we believe in the power of travel — and in helping you make the most of every trip. With over 500 million candid traveler reviews, we can help you make the right choice when you shop for hotels, restaurants, and attractions. You’ll also find low airfares, free travel guides, worldwide vacation rental listings, popular forums with advice about virtually every destination, and more. When it’s time to book, we can help you save up to 30% on hotels, checking 200+ sites to find you today’s lowest prices. And when you’re on your trip, our free mobile app is your ultimate travel companion.
Choose when to travel. Depending on the season, a destination which is normally too hot or cold for you to consider might have a more enjoyable climate at a different time of the year. This might also be reflected in a lower cost, if you decide to travel out-of-season.
Bonus tip: Our favorite site for hotel deals in Europe is Venere.com, which has an incredibly easy user experience, a vast Rolodex of hotels (including smaller boutique properties that you’d never find on many U.S.-based sites), and lots of great deals and discounts. We didn’t include it in our comparison of discount travel sites because its forte is hotels rather than flights, but we’ve booked many European stays through Venere and have never been disappointed.