Summer, especially for college students, is the perfect time to travel to new places with friends and family. While we all want to hit every city on our bucket list, we don’t always have the funds. Here are some tips on how to tackle your bucket list on a budget.
Consider experiences over material things
While shopping is something everyone wants to do on vacation, try to remember that the stores you see in popular cities are also there for you at home. So instead of wasting time in Forever 21 and spending way too much money, spend your time instead by exploring and maybe shopping locally. Road markets aren’t as popular in America as they are in Europe or other places, so take advantage of them! Also, the exchange rates and sales taxes can play a role in your shopping experience. Europe has an extremely high exchange rate, making the clothes you buy there actually more expensive than if you were to buy them at home. But, foreign countries, and even some American cities, may have a lower sales tax than where you live. Research these numbers before you visit a place, or even before you book your vacation!
Book online or in advance
More often than not, booking your boarding, activities, and tours online will help you save money for your trip. Obviously, booking your hotel or Airbnb ahead of time will save you a ton of money. Along with this, websites such as booking.com or orbitz.com will have special deals only through their website, so booking through one of those websites along with doing it at least three months in advance will help you save some cash!
Off-peak travel times
Every country or city has a peak season for tourists. It’s usually dependent on the weather and the time of year. For example, the peak season for European cities is usually in the summer time for Americans, because people are off from school, and it’s usually warmer in Europe during the summer months - but not too hot. While traveling during those peak seasons can be the most convenient option for you, you’re likely going to be paying astronomical prices for flights and hotels. Popular destinations are also going to be swarming with tourists, so a lot of local prices and other trip expenses will go up. Traveling to places like Europe when the weather won’t be its best may save you a few hundred dollars. As for places like the Carribean, or even Australia, where the weather really matters to your vacation experience, it’s best to go towards the end of the high peak season.
Don’t be afraid of public transportation
Most foreign cities, and even cities like New York or Chicago, are built around their modes of public transportation. This is because the locals in the city rely on this inexpensive mode of transportation. One of the biggest ways to waste money while on a trip is through transportation. Although taking a cab or Uber is the fastest and easiest way to get around, those rides add up. By using whatever metro or underground system the city has, in the long run, it will save you so much money. By accounting for time in your itinerary for public transportation, it will allow you to get from place to place in a timely fashion and on budget. Another fun perk to taking public transportation is that you’ll feel like a local when you master the system!
If driving is an option, do it!
If your destination is somewhere where the drive isn’t longer than ten hours, then do it! Driving is the cheapest option, other than taking a bus. It can get a little rough and dirty sitting in a car for that long, but it will definitely save you hundreds of dollars. This can also save you even more money when you get to your destination since you’d able to use your own car to get from place to place within the city. Another tip is to check flights that depart out of cities that you are able to drive to. If the flight at the airport three hours away from you is a hundred dollars cheaper than your local one, it pays to drive! Get creative with your transportation to arrive and depart to your destination to save some money.
Rent a bicycle
If you want to remove yourself from regular public transportation all together, renting bikes is a great and cheap way to move throughout a city. Of course, it’s great exercise, but it also allows you to live like a local and get from one place to another relatively quickly. While this tip is great for people who want to be active while on vacation, it’s important to think about if biking will be easy in the city you are in, and especially if there are bike lanes on the roads.
Do the free things!
Every city has free activities. While you may think some of them could be boring, like a museum or parks, it’s definitely worth a shot if you really want to stick to your budget. Large cities like New York or London have so many free museums, parks, and even random places you wouldn’t even think to do.
Choose a destination that fits your budget.
The most important tip for traveling on a budget is picking a destination within your budget! We all have a bucket list of places we want to see, but don’t always realize how expensive some cities are. According to UsNews.com, out of the top fifteen most expensive places to visit, only five of them weren’t in Europe. Research like this should help you decide which city you should check off your bucket list, while still staying within that college budget.