Living in Northern New York has made me really appreciate the summer months (sometimes spring, too, if it’s not still snowing.)
And although we do experience some mildly warm summers in our region of New York, it is still nice to get away. But if you’re anything like me- you’re reluctant to travel because of the fluctuating cost of gas, paired with the price of a hotel and meals. I’m often thinking “is there actually a way to enjoy traveling without breaking the bank?” The answer is yes, there is.
Location, Location, Location
Remember that phrase? – Well, it directly applies. The most important element in planning a wallet-friendly trip is to determine the right location. Generally, the more popular a destination is, the pricier it will be to go there.
You should take some extra time and research destinations that aren’t well known- but still offer the activities and accommodations you’re looking for.
For example- each year, I like to spend a week, in the summertime, in New England. This year, in particular, I will be visiting Martha’s Vineyard for the first time- and I’m really excited. But will I be staying there? NO.
Instead of staying in one of the numerous (very) expensive inns and hotels in Martha’s Vineyard, I will be roughing it, and camping on the beach about 20 minutes away. Not only am I saving hundreds of dollars, but I am only a short drive from my destination.
I understand that not everyone is open to camping in a tent (I used to be like that,) but there are also other inexpensive options- like B&B’s, as well as some nice motels that have internet, continental breakfasts, and no bed bugs- if you’re lucky.
Prioritize before you travel
Once you have decided where you will be traveling to, you MUST plan ahead of time. I cannot emphasize this enough.
During one of my many summer trips, I neglected to do the proper research and plan out an itinerary. By not adequately planning ahead of time, I was vulnerable and fell for all of the tourist traps, and missed out on things I would’ve loved to have seen.
Remember that Google is your friend. Do plenty of research, even check out your destination’s Wikipedia page- which will most likely have a ‘tourism and culture’ section.
If you have an idea of particular places like restaurants, museums, parks, or other cultural attractions that you’d like to visit- make sure to check their online reviews. These reviews can be a life saver. If there’s that one restaurant you’ve been ‘dying’ to go to, but you check their online reviews and they’ve got 1 out of 5 stars and a list of unsatisfied patrons under the comments section, you’re best bet is to skip it. You’ve now saved time, money, and yourself from having a bad dining experience on your vacation.
Plan your travel for “off” days
If you plan on taking a weekend trip, be prepared to spend more money. It’s all about supply and demand. Demand is ‘up’ on the weekends, so if you’ve booked a weekend trip in the Catskills, you’re going to be competing with the thousands of other people who will be doing the same.
Your best bet is to plan a trip during the week (Monday thru Thursday.) The demand for airfare and hotels has gone down by Monday, therefore, the supply of great deals has gone up.
Unfortunately, not all of us can afford the time away from work to escape during the work week. If the weekends are your only option for travel, just be sure that you are not planning a trip on a weekend holiday- that’s like a double whammy. Not only will the airfare, hotels and attractions prices rise because of the weekend, but because it’s a holiday, they will skyrocket.
In addition to traveling on ‘off’ days, you should also look into traveling during ‘shoulder periods,’ which are basically just off-peak times. According to Stefanie Michaels, (travel guru,) right after New Year’s (January,) after Spring Break (April,) and when kids go back to school (September,) airlines and hotels often give out some great discounts on seats and hotel rooms, since it’s not really a popular time to travel.
Fun Fact: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often the cheapest days to fly
Where to eat: the “six-block rule.”
“That is, never eat within six blocks of a major tourist sight. The food is double the price and half as good. Walk far away from the people and get much better food at a better price.”
Another great way to save on meals is to pick up breakfast at the grocery store. Whenever I travel, I find it a bit much to go out to eat for all 3 meals. And unless your hotel offers a free breakfast, you will be paying for that too. So instead of coughing up $20+ for a waffle and some coffee, just visit the local grocery store. The grocery store will surely have prepared foods (wraps, breakfast sandwiches, fruit, etc.) and you won’t be putting a dent in your wallet.
So now that you have some extra tips, it’s time to get on the road. Remember to plan, prioritize, google, and stay clear of tourist trap restaurants. Happy Travels!