New day. New goals. If you’re anything like me, you spend a great deal of your time mapping out your life’s purpose and how to renew your passion, all while imagining a world without student loans, running 5Ks for recreational purposes, rehabbing thrift store furniture and vowing to leave Target with only one item.
So as you sift through old magazines and glitter pens to complete your vision boards, leave room for one more buzzword. Travel. Next to saving money, living our best lives and finding bae, it’s safe to say to trotting the globe is a bucket list item for many of us. From oceanside resorts to tucked away villages, exploring the world and taking a moment to experience its splendor can be a cathartic contrast to our 9 to 5 driven lives. But while a little jet setting ain’t never hurt nobody, if done wrong, it can be hazardous to your bank account. Flights, hotels, meals, T-shirts for the fam, traveling ain’t always easy. So, in an effort to maximize your next bon voyage around the globe, we’ve put together a few tips to ensure your next trip is frugal friendly fabulous.
Travel During Dead Zones
It sounds creepy, but this slasher-esque title is guaranteed to save you big bucks when travelling abroad. Known as unpopular travel periods, these off-season flying and travel times are the air-industry’s lull periods. “When it comes to saving money and traveling, it’s always timing,” said Elizabeth Blount McCormick, Co-Owner of Uniglobe Travel Designers, a Columbus-based travel management company. “For example, Europe is extremely expensive in May and August. Why, because Europeans are going on vacation and a lot of people around the world are too — so those airfares are going to be at least a $1K to travel there. Look at your time frame. Consider traveling in March and April when it’s off-season.” Other dead zones include the first two weeks of December between the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush, and the New Year.
The worst thing for people to do is to travel while nickel and diming, and looking a their bank account. Elizabeth Blount McCormick, Co-Owner, Uniglobe
When it comes to travel, all-inclusive is always better. Cruises allow you to see the world at a leisurely pace while offering resort-like pampering and all-you-can eat buffets. With the exception of alcohol and shopping, most cruise lines bundle major expenses such as airfare, lodging and food, meaning less swipes of your credit card.
Travel with a Group
Friends, how many of us have them? If the answer is several, round up your posse and plan a large group excursion. “If you have a group of 10 or more people then you qualify for group airfare,” Blount McCormick said. “With group travel you have to have at least 10 hotel rooms as well so make sure [they’re your good friends].” If your clique skews on the smaller side, consider an international travel meet-up or tour companies such as Intrepid or Women Traveling Together®. Tour company Contiki offers bundled, meet-up packages to travelers ages 18 – 35. “[With tour companies], the great thing is you’re traveling alone but you’re also meeting up with other people. You’re making friends with people all over the world…staying in amazing cities and you also have the freedom and flexibility to do what you want to do.”
Hotel, Motel, Apartment Swap…Explore Your Lodging Options
Apartment swaps are an affordable alternative to traditional hotel stay. Sites like HomeExchange.com offer secure, unique housing for travelers looking for an organic abroad experience. Just remember there’s no room service here so tidiness if a must, and also make sure to budget for groceries.
Before solidifying your travel plans be sure to answer the “why,” as the definition of vacation and trip are vastly different in the travel world.
Define Your Travel Objectives
Know where you’re going and why? Are you looking you looking to deeply immerse yourself in a culture, or jet set for a quick girlfriends getaway? Before solidifying your travel plans be sure to answer the “why,” as the definition of vacation and trip are vastly different in the travel world. For an enjoyable and affordable vacation that won’t overwhelm a rookie traveler, Blount McCormick recommends close getaways like Mexico. For an extended stay trip, experts say overseas if ideal. “It really depends on what you want,” she said. “Europe is a trip. South Africa is a trip, whereas Mexico is more of a vacation. They’re different.”
DIY Your Souvenirs
Who said keepsakes from your trip had to be purchased at the hotel gift shop? Stash momentos and unique local finds along the way as you venture around the city for family and friends.
Consider Booking with a Travel Company
Skip the headache of Google overload and let the professionals do the heavy clicking. Many travel companies offer personalized services designed to meet your specific needs while also helping you to maximize your budget. They also have access to independent suppliers meaning they can get deals you can’t. Many travel agencies will create a FIT (foreign independent tour) for clients, a customized itinerary typically provided only through travel companies.
“Travel is affordable but a lot of people don’t know that. That’s why I recommend people reach out to travel consultants,” Blount McCormick said. “ A lot of the vendors we work with are tour companies we have relationships with, with this we’re able to have everything bundled together. With a travel company, you pay your money and you’re done. The worst thing for people to do is to travel while nickel and diming, and looking a their bank account.”
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