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You can have a nice vacation without emptying your savings account. You have to plan ahead, take time to dig for the right offers and keep an open mind when it comes to accommodation.

Traveling on a budget is possible. With a backpack or a trendy suitcase, sleeping in a hostel or in a beautiful apartment in the city center, eating sandwiches or dining in local restaurants. Here are five tricks to plan your dream vacation on a budget this summer.

Set a Vacation Budget

When you need to stay within the budget, well, you need to have a budget. This way, you know how much you can afford to spend, and you can control your expenses during the vacation. It’s going to make traveling more comfortable, as you won’t continue to worry about money every time you open your wallet.

When you calculate realistic amounts for every part of the trip, you don’t have to get a payday loan in Glendale, just to have enough money to get back home. A budget is like a safety net that allows you enjoy your vacation without debt.

Set a reasonable budget, depending on your finances. If you’re low on money, you should choose the destination based on your budget, and not the other way round. Then, create a worksheet where you write down all possible expenses and the amount you can spend.

Write down everything:

  • Transportation – plane tickets, taxi fees, Uber, or gas and mileage rates, if you plan traveling by car;
  • Accommodation – knowing how much you can afford to pay per night can help you pick affordable solutions;
  • Tourist accommodation taxes – many hotels don’t include local taxes in the room’s price. In some cities, adults pay fees that can be higher than $5/ person per day. For a family of four, it can add up more than $70 per week to the price of the rooms.
  • Food – breakfast, lunch, dinners, snacks, and drinks. For some exotic destinations, consider adding water on the list, as well, because tap water isn’t always safe.
  • Entertainment – from museum tickets to concerts, and a couple of extra drinks at the local pub; make sure you have enough cash for some local experiences.
  • Unexpected costs – losing a flight, adding an extra night to the initial plan, getting tickets to a live show, or buying a new pair of jeans. There’s plenty of situations that require some extra cash on the fly. Make sure you have it, to stay away from your credit card.

Subscribe to Price Alerts and Newsletters

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The sooner you start hunting for offers, the higher the chances to get a reasonable price for your vacation. So, sign up for hotel deals, cheap flights, and special packages with the agencies, tourist offices, dealers, and niche sites.

Depending on your budget and your traveling style, you can ask to get news about local deals, international hotel offers, cruise lines, or any other mix that covers your current needs.

Create a special email address for your vacation, to avoid overloading your personal email with newsletters and price alerts. This way, you’ll get all your offers in one place (and away from your working emails) for the moment in which you have the time and the mood to check prices and book hotel rooms.

Take Advantage of the Off Season

Traveling outside the peak season, you’re more likely to spend less and enjoy a genuine local experience. If you have a flexible job, that allows you to take a vacation outside the traditional summer months, there’s no better way to save than going on vacation during the offseason.

In fact, many famous tourist destinations look differently during this time of the year, when fewer tourists are running from one attraction to another. Better yet, flights, hotels, and food cost less, and you get an authentic experience of the local life, without thousands of foreigners taking photos and occupying the seats in the bus. Plus, many festivals happen in the offseason, so you’ll get the chance to enjoy exciting events for decent prices.

Booking a cruise line in the hurricane season or visiting the tropics in the rainy season doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get lousy weather and uncomfortable traveling conditions. You need to adapt your activities to the atmospheric conditions and enjoy the things that can be done during the offseason for less than half of the original price of the vacation.

Book Last Minute Deals

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34 percent of US travelers search for last minute trips between one and three days, while 36 percent of them search for vacations between four and seven days long. And the last-minute booking is expected to grow in the next years, as more people are looking to travel to new destinations for smaller prices.

A last minute vacation means zero stress with planning and researching for the trip — what is to be seen, what museums to skip to stick with the budget, or when to rent a bike. When you buy your vacation 24 hours before leaving, your only worry is packing your bag and booking a taxi to take you to the airport.

You get the discounts, and you have some extra cash for entertainment and unexpected situations (which is an absolute must, considering you haven’t planned anything).

The disadvantage comes from the fact that, waiting too long, you risk losing the offer. If you’ve struggled to get some days off from work, this can ruin your vacation. So, fingers crossed and get ready for adventure! Whatever that means.

Look for Hotel Alternatives

Hotel rooms are the highest expense in your budget. Depending on how long your vacation is, lodging can cost you more than plane tickets and transportation. The more you manage to save in this area, the higher your chances to stay within the budget.

Non-traditional accommodations are cheaper than hotel rooms. Not all of them are equally comfortable, but in most cases, the experience that comes with trying something new is worth the change.

Here are the most popular alternatives to hotels:

  • Couchsurfing and vacation rentals– the most used platform is Airbnb, but there’s plenty of websites where you can find affordable rooms or apartments for rent, to lodge during your vacation. Most of the times, you also get a kitchen where you can prepare some of your meals, which means more money saved.
  • Hostels – they’re cheaper than hotels, but you may have to share the room or the bathroom. It’s less comfortable when you travel with kids than when you’re alone. But it’s an excellent way to make new friends while visiting new places.
  • Friends – if you’re lucky enough to have friends or family living in exotic places, you can try spending your vacation at their homes.

If you’re ready to adapt your traveling habits, you can stay within your set budget and enjoy a nice vacation. Budgeting is always a challenge, especially when it comes to traveling, where it only takes minutes to overspend.

But, if you’re ready to compromise and to set priorities, your savings should be enough to provide you with an excellent adventure.