As summer draws nearer and you prepare to swap out your study materials for a frosty drink on a strip of sand, your mind may unconsciously wander to your pocketbook. How much is this all going to cost me? Will I be left in debt when the new semester rolls around? How do I avoid overspending? All of these are legitimate concerns but they can easily be appeased by creating and adhering to a travel budget.
Planning Ahead and Booking Flights Early
The first step in the planning process, after you've dreamed up your ideal vacation, is to put pen to paper. Make a list of the airlines which offer routes to your desired destination along with the fares they're charging. Sites like Expedia and Priceline are great comparison tools to cut the work in half and save you precious time. On the Expedia homepage, they allow you to select package deals with hotel and car rentals. By coupling these deals not only will the overall fare be lower but you'll have a broader range of options to select from. As a general rule of thumb, you should start searching for airfare at least three-weeks before your anticipated fly date. Around frequently traveled holidays, like Labor Day or the Fourth of July, start searching even earlier because ticket prices tend to go up around these times. You don't need to limit your travel to exclusively airlines either. If you live within close proximity to your travel destination, you may save money by driving or going by boat. If you opt for this route, factor out the total costs of gas and rental fees.
Travel agencies may seem like an outdated method to plan a trip but that's far from the truth-especially if you're travelling abroad or to a non-English speaking country. A good travel agent can bridge the language gap as well as a number of other uncertainties throughout the planning stages. While some sites like Travelocity, Priceline, and Expedia are effective comparison tools for flights and hotel packages, they don't give you the option to include additional activities or expeditions while on site.
If you're feeling a bit adventurous and want to explore unfamiliar territory abroad then consider using a site like STA Travel. This site offers last minute travel deals, insurance, adventure trips, and more. They have a wide selection of promotions and can save you a significant sum over the entire course of a trip. Another handy tool to check out is the TripIt app. This neat travelling planner allows you to organize everything from your daily schedule to hotel and car rental reservations. Available through the app store on iPhone or Android devices, this convenient program is your all-in-one travel organizer.
In the event that you do decide to travel abroad, you'll need to either go to a currency exchange station before leaving home or when you arrive at your foreign destination. A handy app to help you accomplish this is XE Currency. If you don't want to take the risk of carrying around excess cash, you can get a prepaid card or travelers checks. Some options include the Visa Travel Card and MasterCard Travel Card.