So, as we all know- having a budget is the best way to plan a vacation without over spending. A budget is required for just about everything in life, and traveling is no exception. Whenever I travel, I always set my budget for $1,500. It doesn't matter where I'm going or how long I'll be there. $1,500 is my MAX budget. What type of vacation could I possibly get for $1,500? Well- where do I start? I went to Egypt on a round trip flight from LAX, and stayed for a week for under $1,500. I also got an overnight layover in Paris on that same budget. I've flown round trip to Puerto Rico, and took a 7 day cruise to 6 islands for less than $1,500. Did I mention that vacation also included a 22 hour layover in New York? Yes, for less than $1,500. I've been to Mexico a handful of times and each time I went, I spent much less than $1,500. I've gone to Nassau, in the Bahamas and stayed at the world famous Atlantis resort with my kid for less than $1,500. So, I'm here to say that $1,500 is absolutely possible, reasonable, and manageable enough to have a great domestic or international vacation. Here's how I do it, and these are some tips to help you do it too:
1) BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR TRAVEL DATES! When searching for flights, be open with your dates. If you can leave two days earlier, or later- that can make all the difference between spending more or less for your flights. Typically the best days of the week to travel on are Tuesday and Thursday. Why? I have no idea, but each time I've booked a vacation, I've come across amazing deals on those particular days.
2) KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE SPENDING ANY MONEY! As with anything in life, having a plan saves you a lot of time, energy, and money. So before you book a vacation, plan what you want to do, exactly where you want to go, and how much you want to spend and stick to it! If you just go in and book the first flight or hotel you see, you'll end up spending a lot more than you would had you simply looked around for the best deal and planned everything out.
3) DON'T BE AFRAID TO FLY A NO FRILLS AIRLINE! What do I mean by "no frills airline?" I mean an airline that's not one of the most popular ones out there. For example- United, Delta, Southwest, American airlines, etc. usually charge more for their conveniences. The snacks, the beverages, the WiFi all cost extra money. Try finding an airline (that goes to your destination) that isn't one of the big names that we all know of. These airlines typically charge less money for the same ride. Just be sure to bring your own snacks, small beverages, a couple of books, and maybe an iPad full of movies. Save yourself the hassle of overspending. Also, if you're not picky about having a window or an aisle seat- don't pay for seats. Let them assign you one and save yourself an extra $50-$100.
4) MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS! If you're looking to travel to Dubai and stay at the Ritz-Carlton, then I have news for you. You're going to spend well over $1,500 for that. But by managing your expectations- you can go far, and stay at a suitable 3-4 star hotel for $1,500 or less. When traveling, staying in the "touristy" part of town can get expensive because that's where everyone is. However, it doesn't always have to be. Just do your homework on where the best locations of the city are, and plan accordingly. Sometimes you may even get lucky and find a hidden gem of the city. Doing it this way can save you hundreds of dollars on your vacation, while still allowing you comfort, relaxation, and a million dollar vacation for under $1,500.
5) TRAVEL DURING THE OFF SEASON! Traveling in "travel season" can and will be expensive because everyone wants to be there at the same time. Hotels and airlines hike up their rates specifically for that reason. To avoid that, you can check whatever region of the world you're thinking of going to, and find out what their travel season is. When their travel season is over, you can find some amazing rates on flights, hotels, car rentals, and just about everything else on your vacation. A huge upside to that is it won't be overly crowded with tourist, and you'll have the opportunity to see and do what you want without being bombarded with hundreds of people.
6) BOOK IN ADVANCE! I cannot stress this enough. NEVER, EVER, EVER wait until the last minute to book a vacation! It will stress you out and cost you an arm and a leg! This is why planning is so important. If you plan months, or even a year in advance, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars!! In most cases, you can even make monthly payments to help ease the load of affording your vacation.
7) DO YOUR RESEARCH! What do you know about the place you're visiting? What do you want to see when you get there? Where do you want to go specifically? I hear a lot of people say that they want to go to Hawaii. Not understanding that Hawaii consist of several islands, and each are priced differently from each other. Even the flights to each of the islands are different. I've discovered that of all the Hawaiian islands, Oahu is usually the least expensive to fly to and vacation on. Keep that in mind the next time you pick a destination like Hawaii, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica or any other place you plan to travel to. Find a city in those places that'll suit your needs, meet your standards, and offer you the biggest bang for your buck.
8) TRAVEL LIGHTLY! When I travel, I usually only take a backpack and my passport. I do this for several reasons. I don't have to pay for a carry on, which saves me money. I don't have to check my bags in at the airport, which saves me time. And I don't have to worry about the airlines losing, damaging, or stealing my things, which saves me peace of mind! Also, once I'm off the plane, I can walk straight out of the airport and get on with my vacation. There's no waiting around turnstiles to look for my luggage. It's already on my back, with everything in it. Trust me, doing it this way can save you time, energy, money, and hassle.
9) BUY SNACKS, BEVERAGES, BOOKS, ETC. AHEAD OF TIME! This may not mean much to other people, but I'm very frugal, and don't like over spending on things that I know I can get for cheaper. The airport is NOT the place to decide to buy water, snacks, toiletries, blankets, pillows, etc. They overcharge for everything and it's ridiculous. In order to save all the extra dollars you can, always buy your stuff before arriving at the airport. Even if you've discovered you forgot your deodorant, soap, toothbrush, or the little things- my advice is that you wait until you're out of the airport and find yourself a convenient store when you land. Every dollar adds up, and when you're on vacation, it's always best to spend wisely.
These are just a few of my travel tips, and how I spend $1,500 or less when planning my vacation. The vacation planning budget and the money you spend while on vacation should be 2 different budgets. I never spend over $1,500 for my flight and hotel room combined. That's my strict travel budget, and if I can't afford my vacation for less than that, then I simply plan a vacation somewhere else where I can afford it. Usually once you arrive at your destinations, food and other things like souvenirs are fairly inexpensive. So stretching your budget isn't that difficult to do. Just always plan accordingly!
If you've enjoyed these tips, and plan to use a few on your next vacation, share this post with your friends to help them out a bit as well! The more we know, the better off we are!! Thanks for reading and happy travels!