Travel Smart: Saving Money on the Road

Travel season is upon us, and that means you’ll be spending money on planes, trains and automobiles, in addition to hotels, meals, tickets and souvenirs. Saving money on vacation, though, doesn’t have to be difficult — it just requires a little planning ahead, ingenuity and flexibility. Here are some tips to get you out seeing the world and saving a little money while you’re at it:

Take a Staycation

It seems like it would be boring to stay in the same old place for vacation, but when done right, staycations can be great fun. Making a staycation work just involves planning. Do some searching online, contact your local tourism bureau, and talk to friends. Look for things to do in your area that you’ve never done, and plan an agenda for each day just as if you would if you were going away on vacation. There are many activities, events, restaurants, museums and sights near our homes that we’ve never taken the opportunity to check out. A staycation is your chance to explore what’s been there all along.

Visit Friends and Family

Combining a vacation with a visit to friends or family is one way to save money, particularly on lodging costs. The key to making this kind of vacation work is to plan ahead with your friends or family members so that you know exactly how long you’ll be staying, what you’ll be doing, and who will be paying for what. Going in with friends or family on a vacation cabin, beach house, or hotel room can also help you save money.

Try Alternative Lodging Arrangements

If you’re adventurous, you might want to try a site like Couchsurfing, which links you with people who have a spare bed, couch or space on the floor for visitors. The site provides information and reviews of users, letting you find exactly the kind of situation that would work for you. Other sites, like HomeExchange, let users trade homes in vacation spots throughout the world.

Be a Savvy Shopper

When making arrangements for flights, hotels and car rentals, make sure to shop around on a variety of sites to get the best deal. Try the direct sites for airlines, hotel chains and car rental companies, as well as sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Kayak and Priceline. If you’re flexible with dates, you can also score better deals, so experiment with different time frames as you make your plans. Also check out coupon sites like LivingSocial and Groupon to find deals on local activities and events.

Traveling can be even more fun if you stay within your budget and don’t go into debt. With a little planning, hitting the road doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.