Secrets to stretching your travel budget

Travel costs money, and sometimes our wallets just aren’t equipped to handle it.

Maybe you fancy a filet mignon trip, but only have a hot dog budget? Does that mean you should give up on the idea of ​​a getaway? No, because there are secrets to stretching that tight budget so that you can enjoy a well-deserved vacation.

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According to Jennifer Price, travel agent at MickeyTravels, LLC in Long Valley, New Jersey, a travel budget is divided into four basic parts: accommodation, food, transportation, attractions, and activities. Here are ways to tackle each:

A place to stay

“Think outside the box when it comes to accommodation,” Price said. “Roommate sites, such as VRBO or Airbnb, are an increasingly popular and affordable way to visit desirable places on a budget. The bonus is that it really allows you to live like a local in your travel destination.

“Being able to cook some of your meals rather than having to dine in a restaurant three meals a day will definitely save the traveler money. Plus, it will immerse you even more in the local culture. Have breakfast in your apartment. Pack a picnic to eat on the lawn at the local park or an outdoor landmark. Then spend your money on a moderately priced dinner at a favorite local restaurant.

Pleasure of saving money

When it comes to saving money on admissions to local attractions, Price said it starts with research: “Many tourist destinations now have discount cards, which offer substantial savings if you plan. to visit several tourist attractions during your stay. Nationally, there are a variety of apps, such as LivingSocial and Groupon, which often offer coupons and discounted fares to popular destinations.

There are also economical rewards cards for transportation.

“Sign up for a rewards card with your favorite airline and sign up for apps, like Hopper or Skyscanner, and enter the destinations you fly to,” Price said. “These apps alert you when prices to these destinations drop.”

Or avoid flying altogether and take the bus or train when you can.

“These options add to your adventure and save you a bundle,” Price noted.

READ MORE: How to keep kids happy on the train

Book the flight first

“Flights can be the costliest part of any trip,” said Jacqui Whitt of Adios Adventure Travel in Virginia Beach, Va., Who knows a family who booked a cheap mistake fare to Peru:

“Airlines can miscalculate and mistakenly publish ridiculously low airfares. When those error rates show up, you need to catch them quickly, and that family was on the ball.

The family contacted Whitt to then arrange their trip to Machu Picchu based on these flight dates.

“There was nothing wrong with them planning their trip with pre-booked flights and dates so far in advance,” said Whitt. “The cost of the ground fee will be the same whether they pre-book the flight or wait and book it after setting their itinerary. “

Whitt said not everyone will be able to find the wrong fare, but there are plenty of opportunities to find affordable airfares with online searches.

“It helps to be flexible with things like hotels and hiking permits,” she added. “Often times we can have a solution for something that cannot be undone, but if we approach it from a different angle, it could be done cheaply. “

Act like a local

Sara Perkins, owner of a Dream Vacations franchise and vacation specialist at Vacations by Land and Sea in Abingdon, Maryland, advises her guests to learn about the destination’s cultural habits and then do like the locals.

“In the end, they’ll pay less and have more fun ‘fitting in’,” Perkins said. “In Europe, you will pay less if you have your breakfast standing up or if you take it with you; In restaurants in Europe, you don’t need to tip extra like we do in the United States ”

READ MORE: Heading to Europe for the first time? Read it

Talk to your agent

Saving money on a vacation can be as easy as phoning your travel agent, who is there to help.

“When you talk to your customer, you create a relationship, gain trust, show your expertise and hear what the customer’s wants, needs and wants are,” said Kelly Ortiz of Guru Travel in Elgin, Illinois.

“A lot of times clients think they know their budget until they realize what they’re going to get for it. If you have a good, solid product for a client within their budget, give it to them and make sure you educate them on the pros and cons. If you don’t have a product that is acceptable to them, let them know and give them the right reasons.

Pay in coins

If spending a lot of money on a trip is killing your budget, Jacquie Whitt has a better idea to help you stretch your budget.

“Buy your trip as a layaway. We help our clients establish a payment schedule that matches their needs, and we send out reminders and process payments, ”said Whitt of Adios Adventure Travel in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “By the time they leave for the trip, it’s paid for.”