How the Experts Save Money on Traveling: Vacation-Planning Pro Tips for a Budget-Friendly Vacation

‚ÄčNearly everyone has that one friend on Facebook who always seems to be traveling to exotic locations, posting selfies with the most breathtaking backdrops on earth. When these always-traveling friends are middle-income earners like yourself, you can't help but wonder how they do it. Flights are expensive, and posh hotels are most certainly out of your budget. Here are a few insider tips for traveling on the cheap without sacrificing quality.

Avoid Traveling During Peak Times

One of the most effective and simplest ways to vacation on a budget is to plan your trip during the off-peak season or the shoulder season. Depending on where you're headed, most locales have peak periods during the year when tourism is heaviest. Most people escape to a tropical location during winter when they need a break from the frigid cold temperatures at home, for instance. So, if you're willing to travel to Tahiti when the temps at home are sweltering too, you'll score cheaper accommodations and sometimes even flights.

One word of caution, though: When employing this strategy, consider how the season may impact attractions that you want to visit. For instance, if you're headed to a location with theme parks, winter probably isn't the ideal time to travel there. Find the happy medium by choosing an off-peak time with workable conditions at your destination.

Plan Your Budget Ahead of Time

Your total vacation costs include more than just airfare and hotel accommodations. You should also consider costs such as meals, tickets to attractions and events, car rental, dog walking or dog boarding services, a home sitter, and more. If you're budgeting for vacation based on how much it's going to cost to get to your destination alone, you'll be over-budget and over-stressed quickly.

Plan your vacation accordingly by including all possible costs as well as a bit of extra money in the budget for incidentals or increased fees that can add to your overall expenses. You can then determine how to lower your costs by evaluating where you're spending most of your budget and making adjustments.

Find Creative Ways to Cut Costs

Can you save money by traveling to a different location, by driving instead of flying, or by participating in more affordable activities when you arrive? For instance, if you're planning a Disney vacation, you can forego ticket purchases for a day or two while you explore some free or cheap activities around Disney World. Get creative and seek out fun but affordable activities at your destination to cut costs.

You can also cut travel costs by booking flights when most people don't want to fly, such as red-eye flights. Look into vacation packages when purchasing airline tickets; often, bundling hotels, flights, and car rentals is cheaper than purchasing each separately. All-inclusive vacations are cost-savers, too, sometimes including all meals and other amenities for a single, flat fee.

Take advantage of technology by signing up for email alerts from services like Airfare Watchdog to score the cheapest tickets or to monitor prices even after you book; you can change or cancel flights within 24 hours of booking if you find a cheaper option. And don't forget to take advantage of travel rewards programs through your credit card or your favorite hotel chain.

By tapping into the secrets used by frequent travelers, you can plan your next vacation without breaking the bank. Soon, you'll be the one posting selfies from exotic locations you thought you couldn't afford.

Aimee Lyons is a twenty-something free spirit who loves crafting, painting, building, and anything else that lets her exercise her creative muscles. A born do-it-yourself kind of girl, she started to inspire others to embrace their inner creators and tackle projects with confidence. When she isn't crafting, you might find her vintage shopping or taking her Corgi Champ out exploring in her hometown of Austin, Texas.

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Tips for choosing a holiday destination

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Although the idea of strolling around a tropical island probably appeals to you, it's likely that the thought of actually planning the holiday and choosing a destination does not. With so much choice, it's not always easy to select the right place for your upcoming break. Here, we share a few tips on how to find the perfect holiday destination.

What's the purpose of the holiday?

The first thing to consider is what you want from your holiday - for some people, it's all about relaxation, in which case something like a traditional sun holiday or a yoga retreat in the Caribbean might be good options. You'll have plenty of time to rest, sunbathe and catch up on your reading and will come home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. However, there are other people who are more interested in experiencing a completely different culture and meeting lots of new people, in which case something like a group trek around Thailand or Argentina could be the perfect choice.

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