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By Nick Petersen | Citizens Bank Staff
If you are anything like me, you stumbled upon this article because you recently graduated college, have the travel bug, and you’re probably upset because you overdrew your checking account having a little too much fun this past weekend (Or maybe your tab is still open).
Fortunately, there are many ways that you can still see the world without breaking the bank!
The first step in planning any trip is to figure out how much your trip is going to cost. It is critical to remember to include expenses outside of typical travel and lodging. As I am sure early adult life has taught you, things such as food, alcohol, and entertainment add up fast so make sure you provide yourself some wiggle room so you can afford the extra fun.
Once you make your budget, save a little cash from each paycheck until you reach your goal. This will most likely mean drinking some cheaper beer and wine, or taking some extra food from your family when you go home for the holidays, but it is a sacrifice worth making to have an amazing vacation.
Like the great Jack Johnson once said “We're always better when were together”. The same is true when it comes to your travel plans. Traveling with a friend will not only allow you to save on the cost of lodging by splitting rooms, but you will also have someone else to share your experience with. Traveling with a friend also provides more opportunities to split meals, ride shares, and memories.
While you may need to forgo the amenities of a luxury hotel, using atypical lodging options such as a hostel, Airbnb, or staying with a friend/family can significantly reduce the cost of your trip, and give you more financial flexibility to do other things. Staying outside of a traditional hotel will also give you the opportunity to have a more authentic experience when you get to your desired destination. Another additional benefit is that Airbnb hosts or friends/family can provide you with a variety of “hidden gems” in the area you are staying which will allow you to save more money, and get a unique experience outside of the typical tourist destinations in the city you are visiting. Another great option for cheap travel is camping. Some of my best vacation memories were spent sleeping under the stars along the Saco River in Maine. Not only is camping free or extreamly cheap compared to other lodging options, but it also allows you to reconnect with nature and spend some time in the great outdoors. Just don't forget the bug spray!
Finding cheaper airfare is a well-documented practice, but that does not make it any less critical to ensure a reasonably priced vacation. The flying experience is virtually the same regardless of airline or the price of your tickets so don’t be afraid to fly with a new airline. I promise the same pretzels and can of soda will be waiting once you’re in the air.
By utilizing travel sites such as Kayak or Google Flights you will not only be able to find the cheapest flights possible, you’ll also be able to see dates when flights are cheapest. So if you aren’t locked into a particular timeline you can potentially save even more! Another advantage of these travel sites is that they often provide the ability to bundle hotel and flights, which can save money in the long run. Sometimes when you bundle you will also receive credits towards rental cars or even vouchers for extra perks at your hotel.
A majority of airlines still charge a pretty penny for checked bags. When you compound that with the fact that the price goes up for each additional checked bag you could be looking at spending close to $100 before you even get off the ground. A great way to get around this is to travel with a back pack and a carry-on; this will allow you to completely avoid fees surrounding bags. While you still need to be cautious around the size of your back pack and carryon, this method will usually allow you to fly without fees. Not to mention this ensures that you have all of your items for the duration of your flight, and your luggage won’t get lost in transit. Make sure you verify individual airlines’ policies regarding baggage before you fly, here.
Even the cheapest trips will still require you to swipe your credit card, so why not have your card work for you! A great option is to find a card that will allow you to earn cash back on any purchase you make while you are traveling! Another way to benefit from credit cards is to research travel credit cards, often times these cards could give you free miles when you sign up, which could drastically reduce your travel expenses. Even if the credit card provider does not offer promotional miles you can still use your current trip to fund your next one!
If you are lucky enough to lock up an entry level job that allows you the opportunity to travel, don’t be afraid to extend your stay for some personal fun. Many companies encourage employee development so look for conferences and other opportunities in cities you want to travel to. This may allow you to only have to pay for a one way flight ticket, some free meals, great networking opportunities, and you can even get recommendations for things to do from people you meet at your event.
I am going to be upfront with you, I am not a social media influencer, and I am assuming you aren’t either. So while we may be missing out on cashing checks for selling detox teas and shampoos on our social profiles, you still may be able to use your influence to get some bonus perks while your travel. Don’t be afraid to ask your lodging or attractions you are visiting if they offer additional access, upgrades, or free services in exchange for some social media posts. Another great side hustle is to ask if your lodging of choice has a referral bonus. If you really loved the place you stayed recommend it to a friend, and maybe when you return your next stay will have a discount.
While the urge to visit traditional tourist spots may be on your bucket list it may also do a number on your travel budget. It is important to remember that while some of these locations may be ancient, they are still designed to make money. For that reason sometimes it’s best to just get lost (within reason)! Walking around your vacation destination will provide an authentic experience and allow you to take in the culture with significantly less exposure to the tourism industry. Another added benefit of walking is that you avoid the cost of a rental car and ride sharing apps which can quickly shrink your budget.
While you are in the process of getting lost it is important to make sure you stay safe! Make sure that you let family members know where you will be going and make sure you have access to some type of GPS.
To learn more about our Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus® World Mastercard® or other products please call 1-888-333-5145, or Ask a Citizen at your nearest Citizens Bank branch.
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