10 Hacks to Help You Plan a Vacation That Won't Leave You Broke

By Chika


Last Updated: July 18, 2022


Inflation is crushing almost all aspects of Americans’ budgets, including one aspect they hold dear to their hearts - vacations. 

  • Travel spend is fast rising, now 23% above pre-pandemic levels, according to Personal Capital data.
  • Gas prices set record highs and have fallen only slightly.
  • Rental car prices have spiked 24% year over year based on February data.
  • Travel companies continue to deal with labor shortages.
  • Prices for flights and hotels are on the uptick.

Yet after being restricted by the pandemic -induced lockdown, coupled with a gloomy economy and highly divisive political scene, many Americans are geared up to go and give themselves a well deserved break. 

A recent Personal Capital survey revealed that 51% of Americans are looking forward to travel and vacations. Others may be holding back because of budget concerns or savings goals.

With everything on the rise due to a sizzling hot inflation, it may not be out of place to say this would be one of the most expensive vacation seasons people would be taking in recent times. Here are some hacks for vacationing on the cheap without getting into debt.



10 Vacation Hacks That Won't Leave You Broke 

1. Be open on location.

Frugal travel is facilitated by flexibility — especially when it comes to selecting a destination.

Rather than having your hearts set on going to say, Paris or Hawaii, you can set your sights to less visited regions such as Eastern Europe. This allows you to take advantage of the cheap flights on offer. But more importantly, you get to explore cities that you may have otherwise overlooked. 

This same lesson is also applicable when choosing travel dates. The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the more options you get for finding a good deal on travel fares. You can find wildly different prices just by tweaking your arrival or departure days slightly.


2. Take note of exchange rates and transaction costs.

If you’re traveling to a foreign country, be sure to look into exchange rates and transaction fees.

However, with the dollar gaining strength due to the Fed's monetary policies, you should be covered when you visit most foreign countries. 

It would be worthwhile to get a credit card for the trip if you don't already have one that has no "foreign transaction fees." Some locations will inquire if you prefer to conduct the transaction in local currency or in U.S. dollars.

The company handling the transaction may charge a fee for the dollar transaction or may not offer a good conversion rate. Therefore, providing your credit card company does not impose an accompanying foreign transaction fee, local currency transactions can make more sense.


3. Get enough cash before you embark on vacation. 

Apart from the ease of converting to local currency, what if you are stuck in a place without adequate internet connection and the only means of paying is your card?

Before traveling, inform your bank before and let them know where and when you are traveling.

Also, it’s best to limit your transactions. This means converting only what you need so you don’t have to convert multiple times, but not so much that you are having to convert the excess back to dollars at the end of the trip.


4. Set price alert for cheapest flights.

Prices for flights fluctuate. The time you're flying, how many seats have been sold, the geographical demand, etc., all have an impact on pricing algorithms.

You might trawl through pricing for hours, refreshing the page to track changes in airfare until you find a good offer. Alternatively, price alerts can automate this process for you.

Using algorithms, price alerts monitor particular flights, routes, and dates depending on your choices and warn you when the price changes.

Your search can be specific:

  • Cost of a round-trip flight on American Airlines from Los Angeles to Miami

or broad:

  • Cost of a one-way trip to New York from Los Angeles.


5. Track your spending.

It's very easy to have a laissez-faire attitude with cash when you are on vacation.

After all, you have worked so hard, and you deserve to give yourself a treat. But remember that reality will be waiting for you when you get back home in two weeks time.

As such, you have to be intentional with how much cash you want to spend. While you may be on a strict spending regime, always make provision for miscellaneous expenses. This would give you some elbow room to work around your budget.


6. Live like a local.

Follow the adage "do as the locals do" once you've arrived at your vacation spot.

That necessitates a trip to the local market. Shopping at the local market for breakfast saves a ton of cash on meals. Additionally, you can have fun exploring the city's distinctive culinary flavors.

When choosing a restaurant, stay away from tourist spots at all costs. Avoid the main section of the city and instead look for restaurants on side streets that are crowded with residents. A packed restaurant is typically indicative of delicious food.


7. Walk.

Renting a car may be expensive and inconvenient.

Using cabs will definitely increase the cost of your holiday. By walking or using public transportation, you can also get the vibe of the local culture and environment. You experience the city up close and discover all kinds of charming things that make your vacation destination unique.


8. Maximize free days.

Many museums and vacation attractions offer a free visit day (sometimes on a weekly basis).

Being strategic with your sightseeing trips can allow you to enjoy a city’s cultural highlights for next to nothing.


9. Plan big expenses in advance.

Since you intend to fully savor whatever city you’re visiting, it helps to plan out our “big spends” in advance.

Make a list of sites you would like to see and make the appropriate plans. This will help you keep your spending on track and help to organize your itinerary in a cost- effective way.


10. Travel light.

It pays to be a minimalist when going on vacation.

You won’t pay to check your bag in, or spend time waiting to claim your baggage. Plus you have no fears about losing your luggage. Packing luggage also gives you flexibility, allowing you to move around with ease.

If you can't check into a hotel immediately, you have no problem moving around. It is also easier to take public transport when you travel light rather than taking a cab. 

Photo by Pixabay


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