With school holidays fast approaching in the US (and soon in the UK!) and the days of freedom ahead, most of us dream about taking a few days off for a vacation or holiday. While many think this is out of their budget, consider some of these tips to have a fun, budget friendly holiday for yourself, your whole family or you and your partner.
Be Flexible with Dates
This may not be incredibly easy if your kids only have a certain time they can travel with you, but if this isn't a factor, don't schedule your days off of work until you know for certain which days you'll be traveling. Being flexible allows you to pick the cheapest dates.
Use Hotwire, Priceline and Expedia Secret Rates
When searching for a hotel, don't just settle for whatever price you're given. Instead, shop around. Hotwire and Expedia Secret Rates allow you to grab deals on hotels without knowing the name. You will be given the hotel's whereabouts, star rating, customer satisfactory rating and amenities (such as if pets are allowed or if there is a pool). For some, this may not work well, but for others, especially if you are flexible, this is a great way to grab a deal. Priceline can be an amazing tool as well, as you will simply name your price for unsold hotel rooms.
Use Google Flights
Google Flights has been an absolute savior for me. I recommend it over any other travel Matrix there is, as it doesn't falsely advertise low prices and is incredibly easy to use. It may take a bit of fiddling to get a price within your budget, but as long as you're flexible, you'll be guided to the absolute cheapest days to fly.
Be Flexible on Your Destination
Instead of having your heart set on one destination, consider several places you and your traveling companions would like to go. This way, you can research the cheapest destination and go there. Google Flights also lets you look in a region, for instance, if you're interested in a Caribbean holiday, but aren't sure where, Google Flights will help you find the cheapest place.
Consider Couch Surfing
This is likely best done in at least groups of at least two and likely not with kids. However, if you're a couple or a group of friends traveling, this can be a great economical way to stay in your destination and meet local people. The concept is simple, you put up an ad and stay with with locals who will host you. In addition to giving you a place to stay, they can give you local tips on cuisine, places to go and may even take you out on the town to see their city through a local's eyes. Go to the website here.
Utilize Budget Airlines
In Europe, these budget airlines are rampant and aren't actually that bad. Although they don't offer any bells and whistles (you have to pay for everything on board and often to check a bag), they can be great for jaunts under 2 hours around Europe. Within Europe, these include Ryan Air, Easy Jet and Wizz Air.
Take a Staycation
Want to get away but don't have a lot of time or the money for a flight? Use Hotwire or Priceline to book a hotel in your area for a couple of nights. Grab a massage, go swimming and eat out at your local favorites. Go see something in your town or nearby you have been meaning to see but haven't done yet...we all have those places!