For any traveler who’s looking to save on vacation, traveling off-season can be the key to an affordable trip. The beach isn’t any less beautiful during the low season, but it is less crowded! If you’ve decided on an off-season trip, you’re already on your way to making the most of your vacay. Savings on your flight and hotel means there’s already more money in your pocket than there would be, and with the right strategy you can plan your trip to keep the savings coming.
Check out these five tips to be more frugal with your fun:
1. Check Out Daily Deals Sites and Apps
This tip can save you big. Daily deal sites, like Groupon or LivingSocial, are geared to locals, which means you’ll benefit twofold.
On these types of sites, you’ll get a good idea of what kinds of activities are offered at your vacation destination. The events and activities on sites like these are less for tourists and more for residents. This means you’ll get a better idea of the local flavor, and visit places a little further off the beaten path.
Besides the perk of getting the inside scoop on what’s available in the area, these sites can also result in big savings. Consider looking up the well-reviewed restaurants and activities in your dream vacation spot, then searching for these businesses on a daily deal site. Chances are, you’ll find at least a few. The deals on these sites can often save you 50 percent or more on dinner, drinks, and fun events.
Apps can also help you save and make your trip go more smoothly. Try out a currency converting app so you know exactly what you’re spending when you’re using foreign currency — it can be easy to overspend otherwise, especially with sneaky expenses like foreign transaction fees or “tourist taxes” on hotel bookings. Local public transit apps will help you get around, and Uber is often cheaper than cabs.
2. Shop for Groceries
While you might be tempted to eat out at every meal when you’re on vacation, fight the urge. Even breakfast in your hotel room can result in lots more money in your pocket at the end of the trip.
Take a visit to the local grocery store and do a little shopping instead. You’ll still get a chance to try local foods, but you won’t shell out more than necessary. Even if you put the extra savings on breakfast towards a better restaurant at dinner, this technique can pay off. Think about it: would you rather spend that $8 on coffee and toast or on a delicious drink or dessert?
When you’re ready to grab some grub from a local eatery, it’s a great idea to try out some food carts or hole-in-the-wall spots, especially for lunches or quick meals. The food will be great, and if you choose a food cart, it might even be portable, saving you some valuable time sitting around in restaurants. Plus, these restaurants are often less expensive than fancier, sit-down options.
3. Leave the Souvenirs at the Gift Shop
Don’t fall for this one. Souvenirs might be tempting, but you don’t need a keychain, t-shirt, or snow globe to remind you what a great time you had on your vacation. These little trinkets are always overpriced, too — so not worth it!
Instead, take plenty of pictures on your trip. Travelers often realize that these are the best things they bring back with them from vacation. Pictures are worth so much more than cheaply-made souvenirs, and your friends and family can enjoy them too. The memories of your trip will be great to look back on and won’t end up in the trash.
If you really must bring back a souvenir, pick out one that’s useful. Consider supporting a local artist, trying out a great local wine or spirit, or investing in a nice piece of clothing or jewelry that will last. The experiences you have on your trip are worth more than trinkets anyway, so don’t sacrifice what’s important to bring back junk.
4. Consider Where You Sleep
While the hotel is the obvious go-to when you’re on vacation, there might be better options for you, depending on your plans for the trip.
Airbnb is another great app that can get you out of the hotel pool and into the heart of the city you visit. Listings on this app are often much cheaper than hotels in the same area and can let you stay in more desirable locations.
You can also look into hostels, which aren’t always the grungy bunkhouses you might think they’ll be. Hostels now often accommodate more discerning travelers, and if you’re traveling in a large group they might have more wallet-friendly options for you than a hotel. Big groups can sometimes rent a large room to accommodate all members.
5. Get Around Like a Local
When your time is limited in your vacation spot, you want to make the most of it, so walking to where you need to be might seem like a waste of time. However, walking has some perks for vacationers. You’ll get to see more of the city you’re visiting, which might open your eyes to some unexpected, but memorable, detours from your itinerary. Plus, it’s free!
If walking isn’t an option, look into local public transportation like buses. This can be a great option if you plan ahead and get a grasp of how public transport works in the area you’re visiting before you get there. You can also consider renting a bike or scooter, which might end up being less expensive than depending on Uber to get you around and can be a lot more fun.
All it takes to save on your next vacation is a little extra thought and planning. Scheduling for the off-season is the important first step and comes with the sizable perks of smaller crowds and lower prices. It’s just as easy to carry over the savings to the rest of your trip if you’re strategic with what you eat, where you stay, and how you get around. Try some of these tips on your next trip and you’ll have more money in the bank for the following year’s vacay.