Nine Cheap Travel Trips

Cheap travel tips

Cheap travel tips

A vacation doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. If you are a traveler on a budget, these cheap travel tips are for you.

With concerns of rising air fares, baggage fees, cost of gas and more, taking time to travel can seem financially daunting and unrealistic when everyone wants you to save and think about retirement more. The truth is, you can most certainly still travel on a budget.  Here are nine easy cheap travel tips, some of which I use myself:

  1. Travel off-season. This is probably one of the easiest ways to save on your next trip, especially when flying. You will find that the rates are lower right off the bat when you plan to leave when others are typically not. Savings will also be found in rental cars and accommodations. If your trip depends on warm, nice weather, I would recommend comparing and contrasting prices in the fall and spring.
  2. Bring your own food. Are you going on a road trip? Pack your own food to avoid extra spending on stopping at restaurants or fast food joints. Plus, you’ll get to your location faster by saving time. My boyfriend and I often hit a lot of ground when we travel, and our most recent trip was a road trip. We were able to save time and money by bringing our own meals for the road.
  3. Leave during the week. The weekends are unquestionably busiest for traveling, which means higher prices in air fare, car rentals, hotels and the like. By generally choosing to fly out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you can make your vacation cheap. Always keep major holidays in mind, though, as that does change things.
  4. Opt for a bed and breakfast. When my boyfriend, Ryan, and I decided to travel to Seattle in 2014, we knew this trip would not be cheap, mostly because of both renting a car for a few days and needing to stay in hotels for four of the seven nights of our excursion. Ryan was not too keen on the idea of a hostel (another inexpensive option) due to none with privacy being available, so I began looking into bed and breakfasts. I found a happy-medium, located right by downtown Seattle in the Cultural District, The Panama Hotel. It is technically a hotel but has a bed and breakfast feel. It also holds much history. In fact, it is the only remaining Japanese bathhouse still standing in the United States. We stayed here for the first couple nights at the beginning of our trip, and we were able to save money while also being able to walk through the downtown area. And, speaking of which…
  5. Put on your walking shoes. If you are trying to save as much money as possible on your trip, make a plan to walk as much as possible. Even in the age of the sharing economy with Uber and Lyft, try walking. You can still use that extra $20 for your next meal. Remember: cheap travel is the key here.
  6. Get the biggest bang for your buck. Ryan and I have been able to do multiple trips because we often incorporate the great outdoors in our travels. We will stay a few nights in a major city then head out of town to a national park or outdoor area that interests us, which helps us to keep expenses low while traveling. In addition to be cheaper, it also allows us to experience so much more.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for a refund. If you noticed a cheaper deal with another hotel company or car rental after booking, you can cancel your current agreement to go for the lower rate. Just make sure you do it in enough time and read the terms on your receipts. Many hotels allow a 24-hour cancellation notice in order to receive a refund. Others might require a minimum of 48-hours.
  8. Fly out locally. Instead of flying out of a major city’s airport, you may be able to save by flying out through a regional airport. Be sure not to rule it out when doing your price comparisons.
  9. Use an app. I am still learning about all the awesome apps there are you can use to find the best deals along with last-minute reservations. I am sure you are aware of useful tools like Groupon, Airbnb and LivingSocial, but some others include HotelsTonight and Air Help, which helps you with airfare compensation. You can also manage travel points through TPG To Go.

Part of cheap travel is to also know peak times in the areas in which you want to travel. Going with my point listed above, you can expect to spend more on travel costs during the area’s busiest times.

By keeping your budget in check and using these little tricks, you can fit a vacation that not only suits your schedule but your wallet as well.

What would you add to the list?

A Personal Finance Checklist To Kick Off Your 30’s

A personal finance checklist can help you achieve financial goals.

A personal finance checklist can help you achieve future goals.

A personal finance checklist can be useful to ensure you are on well on your way to achieving financial success (or even simply evaluating where you stand).

Your 20’s are a great time to figure your life (and yourself) out. By the time you are 30, though, you should ideally have much of your life in order. Today’s millennials do tend to take longer to get married and start their lives, as recent reports show, but in order to set yourself up for your later years, you should analyze and improve your finances now.

I just celebrated my 29th birthday at the end of April, which encouraged me to reflect on my life experiences thus far and consider the future. The last decade was focused on enhancing and nurturing my career and my personal life along with developing myself as a full-blown adult. Basically, I spent the last 10 years getting my life in order.

As I prepare for a new decade, it’s time to take the next steps for my future. One of the first steps includes using my own personal financial checklist to accomplish over the next year in order to achieve more of my financial goals. With each milestone, my monetary ambitions change, and yours should too. I’ve already accomplished some of these topics and others still need improvement. As you begin to map out your own, this personal finance checklist will hopefully help you in more ways than one as well:

Budgeting 

  • If you have not already created a budget for yourself, you should do this first and foremost. Tracking your income and expenses is definitely not fun, but it does help to keep you in check and help you build wealth.

Reduce your debt 

  • By the time I was 27, I had paid off my car and two credit cards. My credit score not only went up significantly following these achievements, but I was able to use the money I was using toward this debt to increase my savings account. While I still have my student loan debt I am working on, my credit cards were my top priority to pay off as their interest rates tend to be higher than student loans. I’ve been able to pay more than the minimum amount each month over the last few years with less debt hanging over my shoulders though.

Save for retirement 

  • If you have not been lucky enough to have a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with your job, it’s time to open your own Roth IRA or another retirement savings account option. If you do have a 401(k) with your employer, start contributing more toward this fund. Ask your employer about a match program they may offer and do what you need to do in order to take advantage of this benefit. If you can swing it, you could invest in a separate plan as well as following one with work.
    • How much should you put toward retirement? A common recommendation is a minimum of 10% of your income. If that does not seem feasible at this time, especially with other savings plans you may be contributing to, such as an emergency fund, shoot for 2-5% and work your way up to the 10% goal.

Diversify your financial portfolio

  • As you reach your 30’s, this becomes important to include on your finance checklist. Mix up your investments through stocks, bonds and the like. Before going into such a venture blindly, be sure to do your research and even consult with a financial adviser or stock broker.

Plan for the future

  • No one ever wants to really think about dying or life emergencies, but the fact of the matter is, anything can happen to any of us at any time. As you begin to build financial stability, consider starting a family and reach more life milestones, you will want to contemplate the following:
    • Life insurance. Having a life insurance plan for you (and your spouse, regardless of whether or not he or she works) will be imperative in making any hurdles life throws your or your family’s way a little easier to deal with.
    • Naming beneficiaries on your accounts. Appointing your assets to various people in the event of your passing may not seem necessary at this point in your life, but you need to be prepared for anything. If you are not married and do not have a family of your own, you will want to consider leaving your financial accounts and any assets to your parents or siblings. Your beneficiaries will most likely change and need updated multiple times throughout your life, but get it started now so that it is not a worry later.
    • Estate planning. You do not need to be wealthy in order to start your estate planning. Get a power of attorney and a health care proxy to act on your behalf should you become debilitated and/or lose the ability to make your own decisions. Doing this will ensure you still have a full say in what happens particularly to you and your family.
    • Disability insurance. Regardless of age, you should be prepared for any event in life. If something happens that causes you to no longer be capable of working, disability insurance will provide you with a source of income.

Have a financial plan with your significant other

  • Married or not, live-in couples and relationships that openly discuss finances tend to have a higher success rate in surviving the partnership. Talk to your significant other about a financial plan and goals and compromise when needed.
    • Not married or living with a significant other? Create your own financial plan and be as specific with it as possible.

While a personal finance checklist may seem a bit daunting, it does not have to be all work and no play. It is still important to remember to splurge on yourself from time to time. As you become more financially responsible (and stable), you will find this much easier to do without placing much stress on your bank account.

Start a new decade off right with this personal finance checklist as a beginning point. If you are already in your 30’s and have yet to incorporate any of the above items, take some time to begin including these in your life goals and plan.

What would you add to the list?