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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Thrifty Traveler’s Guide: Budget-Friendly Tips For The Avid Explorer

Finances FYI Presented by JPMorgan Chase

Many of us dream of traveling more often, but the cost can be a deterrent. With a bit of creativity and strategic planning, exploring the world doesn’t have to drain your savings account. Here are some of the best travel hacks for jetsetters who want to experience new destinations without breaking the bank.

Embrace Travel Points Credit Cards

One of the best ways to save on travel expenses is using travel points credit cards. These cards offer rewards for every dollar spent that can be redeemed for flights, accommodation, rental cars, and other travel expenses. Research and choose a card that aligns with your travel preferences and start earning points on your everyday purchases.

Take Advantage of Deals

Watch for deals offered by airlines, hotels, cruise lines, travel agencies, and booking sites. Many companies have specific days or times to release discounted tickets or vacation packages. Being flexible with your travel dates and ready to book when these deals become available can save you significant money.

Booking Site Tips

The booking site industry continues to grow, and each one offers different benefits. Utilize multiple sites to find the best deal, follow booking tips, or even consider paying for a site to monitor flights for the best deal.

You may have heard suggestions to clear cookies or use private browsing so booking sites don’t track your searches and raise prices. Turns out, that is a myth. What does work:

  • Use pricing guides on sites like Google Travel to select the cheapest days to travel. 
  • Be flexible about your destination to find the best deals. Skyscanner has an “explore everywhere” option to find the best deals worldwide. 
  • Find the best time to book your specific flight using sites like Hopper.
  • Use discount booking sites like CheapOair or Momondo.
  • Sign up for cheap flight email alerts like GoingDollar Flight Club, or Thrifty Traveler.
  • Sign up for online rewards programs like One Key, which gives you points towards future bookings when you book with Hotels.com, Expedia, or VRBO. 

Travel Off-Peak

Planning your trip during off-peak times can significantly reduce costs. By visiting off-season, accommodations, flights, and activities are often more affordable, and you may also avoid the crowds of tourists. Research the low seasons for your desired destination and plan accordingly.

Save money by traveling and staying on weekdays versus weekends. Or stay somewhere off the beaten path and less popular locations. Consider booking red-eye flights or ones with multiple stops to save money. 

Consider Alternative Accommodations

Instead of opting for traditional hotels, explore alternative accommodation options. Vacation rentals, hostels, and guesthouses can provide unique and budget-friendly experiences. Websites like Airbnb and Hostelworld offer a wide range of affordable choices, especially if you rent a room in someone’s home or share a bathroom with other guests. 

Pack Light and Smart

Save money on luggage fees and transportation costs by packing light. Choose versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched, and consider doing laundry during your trip. Additionally, invest in travel-sized toiletries to avoid buying them at inflated prices at your destination.

Photo: hryshchyshen via 123RF

Save on Food

Dining out can quickly add up, but you can save money by eating like a local. Explore local markets, street food vendors, and smaller eateries for authentic and budget-friendly meals. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also get a taste of the local culture. Some other ways to save money on food costs include:

  • Bring snacks.
  • Book a place with a kitchen or breakfast included.
  • Make lunch, which is often less expensive than dinner, your biggest meal.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle.
  • Search for happy hours or early bird specials.

Save on Attractions

Many destinations offer a variety of free activities and attractions. Research museums with free entry days, outdoor festivals, and walking tours. This allows you to explore and experience the destination without spending a dime. Other ways to save include:

  • Look for city tourism cards or activity bundles.
  • Book with reputable individual local guides instead of companies that may charge more. 
  • Search GrouponViator, or TripAdvisor for deals on local attractions.

Utilize Public Transportation

Opt for public transportation instead of taxis or rental cars to save on commuting costs. Many cities have efficient and affordable public transit systems that can take you to popular tourist spots and off-the-beaten-path locations. No public transportation? Walk, rent a bike, or use free hotel shuttles. 

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your experience. Incorporating these tips and tricks into your travel planning allows you to explore the world without breaking the bank. Remember to be flexible, open-minded, and adventurous as you embark on budget-friendly adventures. Safe travels!

Finances FYI is presented by JPMorgan Chase. JPMorgan Chase is making a $30 billion commitment over the next five years to address some of the largest drivers of the racial wealth divide.