Take a Great Vacation on a Budget
By Victor Block
After months of staying close to home because of the worldwide pandemic, Dan and Joanne Crawford were itching to take a vacation. Given their limited income and the cost of raising three young children, however, the amount in their bank account wasn't sufficient to pay for a luxury trip.
Even so, the couple used a variety of strategies to stretch their travel budget and enjoy a much-needed and greatly appreciated break from their daily routine. These same money-saving approaches are available to anyone seeking to get the biggest bang for their bucks.
An almost alphabet-long list of tips provides suggestions for saving money on airfares, accommodations, dining and other travel expenditures. Combined, they can make the difference between deciding to stay home and taking a vacation that otherwise might be beyond what the family could afford.
Affordable airlines: A survey of domestic airlines that offer inexpensive flights by Rome2rio, a travel information and booking engine, listed Spirit, Frontier and Hawaiian airlines at the top of the list. Wallet-friendly carriers in Europe include Dublin-based Ryanair, most of whose flights connect Ireland and the United Kingdom, but they also go to other destinations. Norwegian is the one many price-conscious travelers rate the best low-cost airline on the Continent.
Among websites that compare ticket prices are Google Flights, which offers a variety of features; Skyscanner, whose benefits include listings of lesser-known carriers; and Kayak, which is the granddaddy of flight metasearch sites.
Discount destinations and dates: Some places are just more expensive to visit, while others are naturally less so. Big cities and tourist "hot spots" fall into the first category. Less-well-known destinations and off-the-beaten-track locations can offer more for less. That's true especially during the off-season. Another bonus is that your chosen destination will be a lot less busy and crowded.
Discounts and deals: Ways to hoard your travel dollars extend to a number of other areas. Among discounts offered by Groupon are good deals on travel. Available to specific places and on specified dates, they're targeted to people who are flexible in their choice of where and when to go. Among vendors who offer discounts to members of the American Automobile Association are car-rental companies and restaurants. Those who sign up with Hotels.com receive price reductions and free reward nights. And the list goes on.
Travel locally: While Paris, an African safari and other bucket -list destinations have great appeal, attractions closer to home can be exciting and enjoyable, too -- and at much lower cost. A bit of research may turn up travel opportunities and adventures that are perfect for a day trip or getaway weekend.
Restaurant recommendations and more: Avoiding touristy eating places on a main strip and dining where locals gather can fill your tummy without emptying your wallet or purse. As alternatives, cook some meals at home and enjoy a picnic of local favorites. If where you're staying offers complimentary breakfast or free or low-priced buffet meals, take advantage of the bargain-priced nourishment.