Summer is just around the corner, which for many Canadians, means travel plans are coming to fruition. There are few things better than leaving the responsibilities of work and school behind to relax and explore an unfamiliar place. One of them is taking a break to relax and explore while paying less than you expect to.
Here are six tips for saving while you travel.
1. Take the bus
Everyone romanticizes train travel – especially in Europe. However, depending on the country, bus travel could save you 50% or more on travel costs. Outside of America and Canada, many buses have all the advantages of train travel – the stations are in centrally located spots, there are seatback TVs, sometimes coffee and snacks are given away or available for purchase. Buses may not be as comfortable as a train, but the savings can be significant.
2. Be flexible with accommodations
We all have that friend who won’t stay at a hotel with less than four stars. Don’t be that person. No, I’m not talking about how three star hotels are cheaper than four star hotels. What I mean is, if you’ve always stayed at a hotel with a private bathroom, try staying at one with a shared bathroom. If you’ve only ever stayed at chain hotels, try a bed and breakfast or a guesthouse. Each country offers its own way to shave dollars off of accommodation costs, as long as you aren’t too picky.
3. Get off the beaten path
If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Dubrovnik or Paris, take a day trip. Visiting world class cities can be expensive. But, staying in the neighbouring cities can cut your expenses dramatically. For example, in France you can stay in a city that has a direct train into Paris for a fraction of the cost of Paris itself. In Croatia, the coast is lined with beach towns that are far more affordable than it's more famous interior cities. Outside of popular cities, it’s not just the hotel costs that are less onerous – food is cheaper too.
4. Consider staying somewhere that offers free breakfast
This tip is a bit tricky and requires some research on your part. Although guide books will tell you to always stay at a hotel with free breakfast in order to get a good start for the day, free hotel breakfast might not be a way to save on travel at all. Double-check that the price of a hotel that offers free breakfast is comparable to the price of a hotel that does not. If you end up paying $30 more per night for “free” breakfast, it might be wiser to opt for the cheaper hotel and eat McDonalds for breakfast.
5. Sign up for flight deal newsletters
Dozens of websites now offer deal newsletters. Some are paid, others are free. Some are Canadian, others are not. Find the deal website that works best for you. If, for example, you live in Vancouver, sign up for newsletters that covers not only Vancouver, but the Victoria and Seattle airports as well.
6. Compare insurance
Travel insurance can save you big-time if you get into a bind. But don't just save money with travel insurance - save money on travel insurance. This means comparing prices, rather than just going to your bank or asking a friend what they used.