$79 plane tickets, $22 hotel rooms and cheap meals; travel in the modern age has become so affordable. Due to the Internet and increased competition it’s easier than ever for travelers to find cheap deals. All it requires is a little time spent on research, planning and shopping for better rates.
One item to think about is whether or not to choose a package deal. Package vacations are all-in-one arrangements, where tour operators provide flights, connections and accommodation, all under one price. As a general rule, these trips can work out cheaper for seven, ten or 14-day breaks to traditional holiday destinations. However, if you want to go away for a longer time or to a more unusual destination, planning your own trip may be less expensive.
Then there’s the issue of when to book. In many cases, it makes sense to hold out for last minute bargains available online. If it’s more important for you to snag a great price and you are not as choosy about the destination, last-minute bookings or on-line discounted travel coupons can be a great cost saver.
Travelers with flexible schedules are in luck because some of the best offers appear close to the departure date. That’s because some travel firms have already chartered planes and reserved rooms and if they can’t fill them they lose money. As the departure date approaches there is more pressure on them to cut fares.
Of course, not everyone wants to leave booking their vacations this late. Luckily for people who like to plan in advance, it is also possible to bag some bargains early on. Many tour operators offer early booking discounts, including buy-one-get-one-free weeks.
The best deals are usually found in the shoulder and off-seasons. If you can avoid peak travel time, say winter in the Caribbean, you are more likely to get a better deal. In the Caribbean the rates at many resorts and hotels drop to half price around mid-April.
If you’re planning on budget travel the location is important. You can travel for a month or two in some countries for less than a week in Paris. One of the reasons Southeast Asia is so popular among backpackers is that it’s one of the cheapest travel destinations in the world. But you don’t have to be a backpacker to go there.
When we were in Cambodia we were thought we were pretty savvy when we found a resort hotel on the outskirts of Siem Reap for $35 per night, that is until we met up with some friends who were staying at a decent place downtown for $15 per night. We stayed in nice hotel rooms in Vietnam for $22 a night, including WiFi and breakfast.
Along with cheap comfortable accommodations the cost of food was also easy on the wallet. Multi-course dinners for two at posh restaurants were around $25 total including wine. When we weren’t splurging on a restaurant meal we’d buy banh mi, the Vietnamese version of a hoagie sandwich, for 35 cents each. You read that right. A tasty sandwich on a crisp French baguette for only 35 cents.
Another option for budget travelers is South America. Bolivia is becoming increasingly popular. Travelers can make the most of cheap public transport, tasty street food and great value excursions. Away from La Paz and Uyuni, set-menu meals rarely exceed $5.
Meanwhile in Europe, a small country like Slovenia boasts postcard-worthy views. Because of its compact size, it is cheap and easy for visitors to travel around the country. There is plenty of affordable accommodation available and whether people want to trek, ski, raft or simply relax in this European nation, they can do so at a fraction of the cost of many other Alpine countries, including Austria and Italy.
With all the bargains and cheap destinations out there today, don’t let the cost of travel hold you back.
Larissa and Michael are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.