How to stretch your travel budget

5 Ways to Get the Best Value for Your Travel Dollar

by Kristy Alexander

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With the enormous expense of travel, your travel dollars need to go as far as possible. There are a number of ways to keep travel costs low to allow you more trips and longer stays without straining your budget. Using public transportation instead of rental cars and eating in small restaurants frequented by locals instead of touristy eateries are just two things you can do to stretch that budget. Here are 5 tips for getting the best value for your traveling dollar:

1. Look for Inexpensive Travel Destinations

Not all travel destinations are created equally when it comes to price. There are travel destinations that are simply more expensive than others. The economy and popularity of your travel destination often determines its travel costs. If you are traveling for leisure, look for a place that is affordable as well as relaxing and engaging, even if it isn't a trendy vacation spot.

Eastern Europe, parts of the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and northern Africa are all popular travel destinations that are inexpensive for Western travelers. Also consider traveling to national parks to keep your travel costs low. Parks generally have free or inexpensive admission and offer low-cost amenities.

2. Shop for Package Trips

With a consolidated travel package, you can pay far less for your trip than if you purchased each part of your trip separately. A travel agent can help you find all-inclusive trips. Or, look online for all-inclusive resorts that keep costs low. Resorts such as Breezes, located in several destinations in the Caribbean and South America, keep costs low by providing your food, entertainment and hotel stay all in one price. Some resorts also package your flight costs into the deal. All-inclusive resorts have on-site entertainment and extra services, such as spa treatments, for an extra fee.

3. Take a Cruise

Cruises are a popular way to consolidate travel costs. With a cruise, your lodging and meals are included in the price of the trip. There is no need to pay for a hotel, to search out restaurants, or to rent a car to see your destination while cruising. Everything you need is included, giving you more time to enjoy your trip and requiring less time to arrange accommodations. You can also take advantage of the inexpensive, guided day-trips that are offered by the cruise company at each of your destinations.

Your entertainment on board the cruise ship is included in the cruise price, so take advantage of live shows and other free entertainment each night. Taking a cruise is akin to staying at an all-inclusive resort that travels with you to each of your destinations.

4. Travel Off-Season

One of the biggest ways to save money when traveling is to travel during your destination's off-season. Not only will airfare costs be lower, but your hotel costs will be discounted as well. The attractions available at your destination may also be discounted during this off-peak tourist season. There are off-season places to travel during any time of the year. Alaska is off-season in the fall and winter, while destinations in the Southern hemisphere are generally off-season during the Northern hemisphere's summer. Europe is off-season from October through April.

5. Consider Group Travel

A group package when traveling can get you discounts on virtually every part of your travel expenses. Package deals for groups provide a discounted trip that includes your lodging and flights. Some also include meals and other necessities. Tour companies offer packages for a wide range of budgets.

If you have a large group, consider renting a bus or other group travel vehicle for daily travel. Even if you are going abroad, you can rent a bus overseas for group travel once you arrive to keep transportation costs low.

Kristy Alexander is a budget conscious mom and travel addict. When she's not reviewing the family finances she can be found freelance writing for HotelClub where you can find cheap family accommodation options in Brisbane and beyond.

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