We’re out to enjoy ourselves, not break the bank. It’s about priorities.
In general, saving money is about knowing yourself and what you’re comfortable with, and then pushing just a little beyond that line.
How you may ask? You pick and choose.
Research carefully. There are a ton of apps in the digital world that will help you track flight prices and pricing trends. Memberships through credit cards or travel sites that will clue you in on the best times to snap up that great deal. Deal hunters with the travel bug will know Google but other lesser known apps like Hopper, Skyscanner and Kayak are also good.
Many destinations will have an Offseason, where there is a dip in the tourist traffic, usually just after a holiday season or when the weather is decent but not perfect. Take New York for example, where the winter has been fairly mild this season. Or if you’re willing to brave a day of rain for 4 days of sun; Florida, Tokyo or any other number of nice places are great.
Skip the booze, share an appetizer and leave for dessert- Some of the best advice I ever read is that if you want to be able to afford expensive restaurants is ” Skip the booze, share an appetizer and go elsewhere for dessert”. Unless the place is known for something specific, focus on only a shared appetizer and main course. I’m not much of a drinker myself so skipping the booze is easy for me. I can always grab a beer and go back to my hotel room. If you go to a restaurant and they have a culture of tipping your server for their hard work, make sure you do leave a tip. This is non-negotiable.
Alternatively, you can Meal Prep. If you went the Airbnb route, you can definitely go grocery shopping for some quick food to make at the kitchen of your rental. Still, if you don’t wish to cook when you’re on vacation and really, who does, you can also get food to go from a restaurant and save yourself that 18-20% gratuity.
Airbnb is, of course, one way to save money, though it has it’s drawbacks as well. If you know an area well, by all means, Airbnb but sometimes, a hotel will have knowledge and security that an Airbnb can’t provide. Still, it’s a thriving industry for many reasons and savings is one of them. Privacy, however, is a toss up between blissful silence and screaming baby. I do not recommend hostels personally, I have security preferences. Airbnb may also be restricted or illegal in your vacationing city, so look it up folks!
Support Small Businesses is one way to save money, like some places, especially in Asia, will not charge tax for cash transactions. Some of the items they sell may be hand made and include special touches that an otherwise mass made item might not. This brings up the value of what you’re getting and is, therefore, more worth your hard-earned money. Bonus if the culture is one where haggling for an item is part of the buying process.
Being on vacation means that you want to have great experiences and yes, some of those do cost money but not all of them do. Many cities will have city passes or bundles that include a whole series of museums, events, tours and other things to enjoy as a bundle. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, you can always search for Free Events in the city or town you’re visiting. They may be less well known or publicized but equally enjoyable.
Transportation in some cities can be very accessible and affordable. There are the aforementioned city passes that cover a week’s worth of travel. Of course, there is Walking, the age-old method from the dawn of time. There are also people who, rather than taking taxi’s will travel around with a folding bike in their suitcase. I am not speaking about renting a bike while on vacation, though you can surely do that as well. Yet, without knowledge of the places you’re going to be biking and any associated costs and fees, the savings may not be worth the headache of renting bikes.
Get Dual Purpose Souvenirs– This is another one of those tips that is about adding value while saving money. Everywhere you go, there will be cute tchotchke or rather, purely decorative figurines. Skip those in favor of souvenirs like shirts, hoodies, mugs and other items that will serve a dual function down the road that saves you money later. Need a new coffee mug after the last one broke? Hey, you’ve already got one ready to go from your trip. It’ll be memorable and serve a purpose.
Have a Budget and stick to it, which is obvious but difficult for some people. Be as picky as possible. If you’ve only budgeted so much for gifts, stick to it. It forces you to be selective about who you give gifts to and makes you think creatively about what is the best gift for those people. If the local cuisine happens to be seafood and you’re not a fan, then go eat somewhere else. Maybe try it once and if you don’t love it, you know you can spend your money elsewhere. Never try something just because you can then tell your friends or your social media that you’ve tried it knowing you’ll already regret it.
In all cases, it’s about Priorities. Do you want to have an expensive dinner? By all means, do so, but you can balance that by having a cheaper breakfast and dinner. Want to have a great experience like sky diving, hot air balloon riding or something else that may cost a little more? Sure you can, just Balance that by going to a free museum or event the day before or after.