Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.
"I deserve it. I'm on vacation!"
Ah, those famous last words.
We inevitably say this while we're traveling and reconciling our tight budget with that pricey excursion, fancy dinner, or nice souvenir.
We obviously don't want to deprive ourselves of a cultural or otherwise special experience abroad, but we also don't want to return home with the worst souvenir of all: debt we can't afford.
Here are 10 ways to stay on budget while traveling, without sacrificing the experience itself:
Fancy Lunch, Not Dinner
At most restaurants, the lunch and dinner offerings are almost identical - save for the price. Go out for a nice lunch instead of dinner, and you'll get to enjoy all the fixings, for half the price.
Picnic It Up
Get the best view in the house by packing a picnic and enjoying it in an idyllic spot. Shopping at a local grocery store is a cultural experience in and of itself.
Beware of Snack Foods
If I wanted a lucrative business, I'd choose a concession stand or ice cream shop in a touristy neighborhood. Why? Because in the midst of a full day of sight-seeing, a snack, drink, or treat is almost irresistible when it's right in front of you. And while the price may seem inconsequential, it really adds up.
Stay off the Main Drag
Strap on your walking shoes and save money by finding accommodation off the main strip. By walking more you'll also stay in shape and see more of your destination. Even if you take public transportation, it's usually still more cost-effective.
Or, for an extra touch of "home" on vacation, save big bucks with a home exchange or house-sitting.
Beware of Free Breakfasts
Although the free breakfast offer might seem like a good deal, don't let it sway your accommodation decision. I've had enough horrible free breakfasts (think stale buns and burnt coffee and nothing else) for a lifetime. Choose your accommodation for its location and useful facilities, not the brekkie.
Pick Just One
Instead of cramming your bag with tacky souvenirs you won't use, pick just one souvenir that encapsulates your vacation. I like to get something unique to the area that I'll use or wear regularly, so I'm regularly reminded of my trip.
Make it a Family Affair
Save money by carefully choosing your excursions. When researching your trip, get each family member to pick one tour or event of personal importance. Now everybody has a vested interest in the trip, and budgeting and planning becomes a family affair - which is healthy for both your finances and relationships.
RENTING A CAR
Hoof it in the City
If you're visiting a city, do as most locals do and walk or take public transportation. You'll save on costly parking, aggravating traffic, environmental impacts, and expensive rentals.
If you Must...
Sometimes, you need wheels to get around. For a day-long excursion from the city, consider car sharing, especially if you already belong to a car sharing program. If you need to rent a car for longer periods, consider reserving the smallest (cheapest) car you can, then ask for a free upgrade at the counter. You'd be surprised how well this works.
STAYING ON BUDGET
Leave Credit Cards at Home
If impulse spending is a personal challenge, help yourself by leaving the credit cards at home. You can also track your spending and stay on budget with tools like Budget Your Trip.
These are just a few ways to stay on budget and save money while traveling, without sacrificing the experience. What are some of your tips and tricks?
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Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services. You can follow Nora on Twitter @hobonora
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There are lots of definitions of flashpacking floating around. (This vagueness of meaning is attested to by the fact that my spellchecker doesn't recognize the word).