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Five Budget Travel Tips for the Perfect Affordable Vacation

July 31, 2023

Author: Chanahra Fletcher

You work hard, and you deserve a vacation. Whether it’s a week at an all-inclusive beach resort or a day trip to the mountains, a vacation is a perfect opportunity to turn off, unwind, and escape from your normal routine. But, sometimes, escaping is expensive. From pricey flights to costly hotels, it can be difficult to squeeze vacation time into the budget. At Tuft & Needle, though, we believe you should be able to work hard and play hard too, and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of budget travel tips for you. Read on to discover how to travel cheap and still enjoy your vacation—so that coming home is so much sweeter. 

Plan Ahead

The early bird gets the worm—and the cheaper flight too. To score the cheapest deals on airfare, accommodations, and car rentals, book your trips 2-3 months in advance. The closer a specific date approaches, the higher the travel demand will be. When demand increases, so do prices. To avoid the cycle of high prices and high demand, buy flights, book hotels, and reserve any auto rentals 2-3 months in advance. If you’re specifically planning to travel during a popular vacation weekend, like memorial day or Christmas, book your flights, accommodations, and all other reservations 4-6 months in advance.

Travel During Off-Season

As you plan for your travel, remember to book your vacation in the off-season. Off-season is the time of year when destinations receive fewer tourists. For example, the off-season of a beach destination may be the winter months when the ocean is cooler. Likewise, the off-season of a ski resort may be in spring or summer, when the snow is not as heavy. 

During peak season, hotels, auto-rental agencies, and airlines alike often spike prices as a result of demand. This results in higher prices for transportation, accommodation, and activities. And although traveling out of season—when the prices are cheaper—may seem less than ideal, many destinations are just as exciting in their off-season as they are during their peak. Advantages include fewer crowds at popular sites, more availability for reservation-only restaurants and activities, and overall lower prices for flights, hotels, and auto-rental agencies. As you research where to travel next for cheap vacations, remember to choose a timeframe that falls under the destination’s off-season.

Explore within a radius

When you feel the urge to “get away,” most times a flight to a far-off destination comes to mind. However,  a budget-friendly alternative is to vacation within a specific radius, usually close to your home or rented accommodations. Save money on either auto rentals or hotels by:

  • Taking a day trip from home — Select a nearby city or activity that’s a manageable drive or train ride from your home. Begin your trip early in the morning and return home late in the evening to make the most of your day. By driving or taking public transportation to your destination, plus returning home after a day’s worth of activities, you can save on flights, auto rentals, and hotels all in one.
  • Taking a weekend trip close to home — Plan for a weekend trip the same way that you’d plan for a day trip. Only, this time, book your favorite hotel too. Pack a cooler of snacks to enjoy—whether you’re hiking a local trail or enjoying your state’s beach—save money by enjoying food from home. And as a bonus, bring versatile essentials from home, like our Anywhere Travel Blanket—to use as a blanket for picnics, beaches, and other activities that might arise. By saving money on food, resources, airfare, or auto rentals, you can choose to splurge on other commodities, like pricey activities or luxury hotels.
  • Plan for activities close to your hotel — If you want to truly get away for vacation, yet remain a budget traveler, choose a vacation destination with a myriad of restaurants and activities within walking distance from your hotel. Auto rental prices, while deceptively cheap per day, can add up throughout a vacation. Thus, it’s important to consider destinations that you can walk or take public transportation to explore.

By trading the cost of auto rentals, hotels, food, or airfare for a vacation destination close to home—or one that’s easily navigable—you can experience travel affordably and still enjoy your time.

Research Reviews

The internet is your oyster, and it has some of the best little-known advice for those traveling on a budget. As you plan your next series of cheap vacations, consult reviews from online forums, like Reddit, and various blog articles to find advice from other money-savvy travelers. From telling readers about locally-known cheap restaurants, to providing affiliate discount codes for hotels and rentals, using internet resources can be a great way to save money on your next trip.

Always Ask

When researching how to travel cheap for yourself, your family, or friends, always ask for hidden deals. Reach out directly to hotels, auto rental agencies, and airlines to inquire if they’re running any extra specials. If you’re traveling solo or in a pair, ask if they offer special packages for singles or couples; for group or family vacations, inquire if they have discounts for group bookings or extended stays. Most hotels, rental agencies, or airlines have additional benefits for special groups, such as AARP members or those who use AAA. Plus, most hotels and auto rentals offer discounts to those that book with them directly. There are many discounts within the service industry, but they’re often only disclosed when you specifically ask about them. Thus, when you’re trying to plan cheap vacations, it’s always better to ask.

Know there’s no place like home with T&N

Vacations are always relaxing, yet after days of enjoying your epic escape, sometimes you’ll find a staycation is all you really needed. Whether you want a day trip close to your city or can’t wait for your journey across the world, know that Tuft & Needle is dedicated to making your space something worth coming home for. From mattresses with pressure-relieving comfort to satiny-soft, breathable bedding, we at T&N have the bedroom essentials to help your home feel relaxing, and—no matter your budget—we’ll always be ready to bring the luxury of vacation into your home.

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