It’s not too late to squeeze in a last-minute summer getaway. Whether you’re looking for something adrenaline pumping or serene – there’s no doubt that creating a budget will help you plan.
Here are seven budget-friendly tips to help you make your dollar and your fun go farther.
1. Budget first. Before you plan anything, know how much you can spend. Keep in mind you’ll have to cover travel to the destination as well as lodging, meals and activities. The Mint.com Travel Calculator will help you save money today so you can enjoy a debt-free getaway. It lets you add in details about your travel, whether it’s a romantic getaway or beach vacation, the length of your travel and the number of travelers.
2. Grab lodging deals. You can still find a deal on lodging even if your end-of-summer trip is a spur of the moment affair. In fact, you might have a better chance of finding a deal if you wait until the last minute than if you had booked months in advance. Look into staying at a bed and breakfast — which can cost as little as half of what you’d pay at a hotel. You might also consider renting a weekend house. Gather friends and rent a place for the weekend. Splitting the cost between people will make both food and lodging affordable.
3. Be flexible. If you have vacation days to spare, consider traveling midweek instead of on Friday or Saturday, as you might find more affordable flights and lodging. In addition, traveling midweek is a great way to avoid traffic, crowded airports and busy train stations that have become a staple of summer weekend travel.
4. Don’t stray far. If traveling far and wide will put too great a dent in your finances, then consider a place closer to home so you can spend more time relaxing and less time traveling. If you plan on driving, save a bundle by staying at campsites while on the road. State parks are gorgeous (and affordable) year round.
5. Pack light. Avoid overweight luggage fees if traveling by air and additional strain on your car by packing light. Create a packing list so you can plan ahead and don’t over pack anything. Be sure to research weather and what activities you plan to do so you arrive prepared. Pack items that are versatile and can be easily worn with different outfits.
6. Eat like a local. Hotel restaurants can often be pricier than restaurants in the surrounding area. If you can’t afford the breakfast buffet, ask for recommendations for inexpensive cafes or sandwich shops nearby. Street food is another inexpensive option and is a great way to try authentic local cuisine.
7. Keep it simple. End-of-summer trips are a last chance to unwind. Trips filled with expensive sightseeing and activities can exhaust you physically and financially. Focus on rest and relaxation so you return feeling recharged.
For additional budget-friendly travel inspiration, check out Mint.com’s Pinterest board on how to Travel on a Shoestring Budget, which includes some of the best advice for saving on airfare, hotels, dining, and more!