Most people want to do more traveling, but they don’t have the money to do it. International airfare is costly, and it can be expensive to squeeze two weeks’ worth of sightseeing into a few days. However, it is possible to enjoy a vacation without spending a fortune. With a bit of research and planning, you can enjoy an international trip. Consider these fun family vacation ideas with toddlers to make your budget vacation dreams come true.
If you’re willing to bend a little, you can save a lot of money by grabbing one-day flight deals and/or staying, flying and visiting during the off season. Booking flights on certain days can save a significant amount; for example, if you book on Saturday, you’ll cut the cost of trying to fly in or out on a Friday or a Sunday (which are the busiest days for air travel). It pays to be flexible with accommodations as well–you may prefer a chain hotel, but in many cases, locally-run B&Bs are a better option.
One way to save is to travel as light as possible. “Traveling light” means trying to fit everything you need into a carryon bag–and before you start complaining, it is possible (and recommended by seasoned fliers). Packing light can save you a lot in baggage fees, and you won’t have to worry about your luggage being shipped to the wrong location. When you’re only carrying one bag, it’s easier and quicker to get around.
Stay Away From Tourist Traps
If you’re like everyone else, you want to do some sightseeing on your international vacation. However, staying away from touristy spots can help you save more of your hard-earned money. Plan to spend limited time in the cities, and focus your sightseeing efforts on smaller towns. Visit local restaurants and shops, as well as lesser-known attractions, and save by staying with locals (AirBnB is a great way to learn about the local way of life).
Be a Travel Hacker
This is perhaps the best way to make fun family cruises a reality. Travel hacking is a method by which users sign up for multiple credit cards, just to accumulate rewards points to be used on flights and hotel bookings. US credit card companies offer great incentives to get users to sign on, and you can easily rack up enough points to travel for free.
If the idea of opening up another credit card doesn’t appeal to you, consider signing up for memberships that can get you discounts on rental cars, airfare, hotel accommodations and vacation packages even in other countries. Professional organizations such as AAA and AARP offer such benefits, as do warehouse clubs like Costco.
Take Your Memories Home – and That’s It!
If you’re trying to vacation on the cheap, you don’t need to set aside money for souvenirs. While they’re a lot of fun, the cost can add up quickly. Bring your smartphone or camera and take lots of pictures–and if you MUST buy something, stay away from the tourist hotspots and the big cities, where everything costs more.
If all of the above tips sound too much like work (and not enough like a vacation), there are other ways to travel if you have a lot of time but little cash. Try house-sitting or house-swapping for fee-free accommodations, or try volunteering with an international organization. These methods do require a little money, but they allow you to make your dreams of international travel a reality–especially if you combine them with the tips above.