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Urban Parenting's Guide to Traveling on a Budget
Not enough of us get the chance to travel, either because of cost or time. Travel can be expensive, but having a small budget doesn't necessarily exclude you from a nice vacation. With a little ingenuity and techniques to save you money, you will be able to have a fun travel experience, without emptying your savings account.
One of the best tips for cheap travel is going during the off-season. Travel companies will often slash prices during the months of the year when people are less likely to take a vacation. Travel agencies look at the situation much like hotels using online websites to fill empty rooms at a cheaper rate. They can either offer the service at a discount and make less profit on the sale, or they can keep higher rates and make no sales or profits at all. Use this to your advantage by traveling during the fall or winter. Transportation, hotels and fun activities should all have discounts.
Loyalty programs are also another way to gain an advantage when looking for cheap travel. Some programs, such as AAA and AARP, can help you get discounts because they have a large volume of members. You can also use sites like Groupon to get a discount based on the number of people who sign up for the deal.
Instead of staying at a hotel or motel, look for someone to stay with. If you have any friends or family who live in a place you would like to visit, contact them and see if it would be okay for you to stay a few days with them. If you are set on a city where you don't have any acquaintances, try sites like Craigslist. Oftentimes, you can create a post explaining your situation, and you may get a response from someone willing to let you stay with them for a small fee or even for free.
Another way to save on living costs is to find a campground and camp instead of renting a room. Camping will not only save you a lot of money on your stay, it will also provide another fun adventure to your trip. During warmer months, try to find a spot near a lake, and you can have fun leisure activities in the water during your down time.
You can also save a bundle on your food costs by preparing your own meals with food from the grocery store, instead of splurging on expensive restaurants. When you are budgeting out your trip, try to leave money for one or two meals out. But you should bring as much food with you as possible to help your trip stay cheap.
If your destination isn't too far away from your home, think about using a bus or train for travel. You can also drive your car to save, and that will also keep you from having to rent one once you reach your destination. Planes can be expensive, and they can end up costing even more if you have to change dates. Do a comparison on different ways of traveling, and use the one that fits you best, considering cost, number of passengers, comfort, any special requests (such as wheelchair access), etc.
Just because you don't have a lot of money to spend on a lengthy vacation doesn't mean you can't take an enjoyable trip with your family. Use the helpful hints listed in this article to give you an idea of where to start with your savings plan.