Whether you’re traveling to visit family, heading out for a weekend trip or going abroad, getting the best trip ever is all about spending money wisely. Traveling can be expensive when you factor in flying, accommodations and food, not to mention the other little expenses, like souvenirs and cab fare. The best way to spend your vacation is to not be worrying about every little dime. It’s time to start planning your trip now!
When booking your flight, make sure you get the cheapest one possible! Websites such as Expedia compare flights across airlines to show you the different departure times and cheapest prices for tickets.
Irene Berman-Vaporis, a recent graduate of Boston University, recommends using Skyscanner and Adioso, which are other websites that compare airline prices. “I've recently started using Adioso to look for flight deals when I don't have firm plans,” she says. “The site is perfect for flexible travelers looking to snag the best prices possible. You can subscribe to get emailed when the price for a flight drops within your price range.”
Once you get your flights, download TripIt, which is a free app (available for iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Blackberry and Windows Phone) that lines up your flights in one neat place. This is great if you have several trips coming up, as this app will organize them easily.
If you are unsure of whether to fly or drive, do a comparison of the prices for your travel. Check airlines to see how much you would spend if you flew there, and compare that to a gas calculator, such as the one available on GasBuddy, to see how much it would cost to drive. If taking a bus is also an option, check Greyhound to compare prices. Amtrak is a good option for finding train transportation. When you have all of these prices in front of you, choose the one that works best with your budget.
Looking for a hotel can be a complete disaster if you go in unprepared. Hotels can be incredibly expensive, and the cheaper ones could be dangerous or unclean. But with some research, you can get a great hotel at an even greater price!
One thing to keep in mind while you’re looking for accommodations is that hotels can be tricky with their pricing. Try using Tingo to book your hotel. If the price of your room goes down after you book it, Tingo will refund your credit card the difference. Pretty sweet deal, right?
If you want to book a hostel instead of a hotel, try a website like Hostelworld to find accommodations. Hostels are typically much cheaper than hotels, but you may have to share a room with strangers and/or bring your own linens and towels. Be sure to check the ratings of any hostels you’re interested in (particularly cleanliness and security ratings) before booking!
When on the hunt for a hotel or hostel to stay at, keep in mind the extra perks that can lower your other travel expenses. “Try to see if they offer continental breakfast,” says Alexandra Reyes, a sophomore at Blue Mountain Community College. “That way, you save money on a meal!” With amenities such as free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast, sometimes spending those few extra dollars can save you money in other places.
Making a price spreadsheet
Because budgeting is important, making a price spreadsheet in Excel or Google Drive that lists out all of your costs will help you not go over your budget.
Here are some expenses to include in your price spreadsheet:
- Hotel room (overall, not per night)
- Taxi money
- Money for entertainment (museums, shows, etc.)
- Miscellaneous expenses (any side trips or souvenirs you know you’ll pick up)
Traveling shouldn’t suck the money out of your bank account—and you shouldn’t need another vacation to recover from the difficult planning process! With these tips and tricks under your belt, planning your next trip will be easy. You deserve an awesome trip, and that includes being able to plan it with ease. Don’t forget to send us a postcard!