You want to get out and experience the world…but you’re on a budget. With the strong dollar, there has never been a better time to start financially planning for a trip! An affordable vacation is only one of many steps you can take to ensure your next vacation fits your financial circumstances. Take a look below for some helpful money-saving tips for before you travel and make sure to check back soon for money-saving tips for after you arrive.
Planning Your Vacation
Quite a few considerations go into picking the right vacation on a budget. And we know where to start:
- Travel during the low season (October–March), as prices are lower and the experience offered is still extraordinary.
- Be flexible with travel plans. Consider vacationing in a different country—an area with a favorable dollar exchange rate.
- Take advantage of promotions. Cosmos regularly offers great savings and deals, so be sure to call or ask your travel agent about the latest discounts available.
- Join the club. Loyalty clubs or frequent traveler programs offer members deals, incentives and special offers. Journeys Club, for example, not only provides its members special discounts, it also offers members unique vacations, itineraries, and departures—and there’s no membership fee.
- Take an escorted tour vacation. You’ll be privy to more sights, more insight, and more fun at a pre-set price. Transportation within each destination is usually factored into the price, saving travelers big money. Cosmos offers great options, as well as insight into the benefits of escorted tours.
- Take your whole family (extended family) on vacation. Cosmos offers a standing group discount. Groups start at eight people.
- If you’re traveling alone, consider an escorted tour vacation. You’ll be privy to group travel rates. Cosmos also offers single travelers a “guaranteed share” option, allowing them the chance to split the cost of hotel rooms with same-gender singles.
There are some simple steps in your everyday life you may want to think about well before your departure date to help get more from your vacation:
- Trade your everyday indulgences for the real thing on vacation. For instance, skip your daily Starbucks routine to save money, knowing you’ll enjoy an authentic cup of coffee at a café in Italy. Or drink less wine during dinner to save big bucks, while looking forward to a winery tour in the South of France.
- Are you a member of a museum or arts organization? Sometimes your membership rewards will translate to other city/country museums.
- If you’re planning to call home while traveling (always a good idea), either buy a calling card or contact your cell phone company beforehand to set up international calling.
- Don’t wait to get (or renew) your passport. You don’t want to have to pay “rush”-related charges.
- Take a snack and drink on the plane so you can eat without paying for airline food.
Remember, items you buy while on vacation almost always cost more. Pack carefully, and keep airport security restrictions in mind:
- Don’t over-pack. Most airlines have restrictions on baggage and suitcases weighing more than 50 pounds. If your bag is overweight, you’ll pay extra.
- Check the weather before you go so you don’t have to purchase weather-appropriate clothes and accessories on your trip.
- Bring a camera and extra batteries. Don’t wait to buy a camera, film, and batteries on your trip—it will be more expensive.
- Bring your own over-the-counter drugs for colds, headaches, and more, ensuring that you’re not paying over-the-top prices for medicine you’re unfamiliar with.
- Follow airline rules. Make sure you’re adhering to the three-ounce restrictions on liquids so you’re not wasting money by having to buy toiletry necessities in your vacation destination or at the airport, post-security check.
- Pack a map. If you’re going somewhere new, you’ll need it to figure out the best places to go, for less.
- Be smart about your wallet and/or purse and take the necessary precautions to safeguard your vacation funds from pickpockets.
- Consider folding and packing a duffle bag in your suitcase. If you get to the airport and your luggage is overweight, move some belongings to the duffle bag and carry it on your flight with you, avoiding extra baggage charges.
When money is a concern, try these easy-to-follow tips:
- Pay with a credit card, but keep track of your expenses. Then, pay off your card when you return from your vacation, ensuring you aren’t paying interest for your memories.
- Be wary of “freebies”—they aren’t always complimentary.
- Plan your daily budget. Determine, in advance of your trip, how much you’re willing to spend each day and stick to it.
- Before you go, get familiar with both exchange rates and tipping standards. Many countries do not abide by the same rules and there’s no good reason to over-tip.
Plus, you never know what kind of deals escorted tour operators may have! Check out the current deals here — we’ve always got something up our sleeve!