Too often when traveling, it's just so easy to get carried away with ourselves and just book whatever, whenever the moment takes us. Alternatively, it's all too easy to never book at all, because things cost too much. Unfortunately, in both these scenarios, we're slaves to pricing points. When we book in a wild panic, or a moment of glee, we're not getting the best deal. Likewise, when we don't book at all... well, we're not getting the best of anything.
However, it's also important not to go too crazy on just one offer - after all, you could find a really cheap flight, only to realize that there are no deals on hotels. Oops. In reality, you need to make sure that you can find better deals across the board, or risk spending way too much money overall. Here's a quick guide on how to do just that.
People often think about the activities they might get up to when they're away last, and that's a big mistake. After all, if you can afford the flight and hotel but then absolutely nothing when you get there, you might be in for a little bit of a shock!
Restaurants and tourist activities regularly appear on Groupon, so try typing in the closest city into their search bar. It's not uncommon to make big savings on here, which can often make vacations a lot cheaper. Restaurants might throw in a free bottle of wine, whilst attractions may well offer 2-for-1 entry. It's all about looking in advance!
Of course, you can go beyond this and plan for your downtime, too. When you're on vacation, it's often boredom or frustration that causes people to spend the most money. Why not avoid it by preparing a few apps or games in advance in instances of flight delays or long journeys? Some games encourage you to get social and in turn reward you with more benefits, such as Pokémon Go. The more of a city you explore, the more you're rewarded, and players can get together the option to create a Pokémon Trainer Club account. This is especially perfect for restless kids who won't sit still!
For the bored adults, there's nothing like the smug thrill of shouting "BINGO". You don't have to venture far these days to enjoy a multitude of games with themes based on popular culture and even other games, like Monopoly (so double the boredom buster). To save money whilst playing, you can take advantage of online bingo offers, such as spending £10 to get £50 to play with on Fabulous Bingo, or a buy-one-get-one-free games on a daily basis.
You don't need to be overwhelmed by the cost of flights - these days, there's almost always a cheaper alternative to the one you might have seen originally.
One really great way of cutting costs is to use flight search engines, such as Skyscanner. It's ideal, because it trawls the Internet for you, and allows you to be as flexible (or not) as you would like. For example, you can type 'everywhere' into the search box, to find flights going literally anywhere from your chosen airport. If you have some time, but you're not fussy about where you want to go, this can be particularly exciting, especially when looking for the cheapest option. Alternatively, you can look into flying across flexible dates. Instead of setting the dates, you can choose 'whole month' or even 'cheapest month'. Of course, it will even search the cheapest options across set dates and locations, and you can alter the flight times to suit you as well.
Of course, one really great way of making savings is by collecting your air miles. These can get you all kinds of offers, from free flights and free upgrades, right through to priority boarding. You're less likely to get bumped in case of overbooking, and you can even put your points towards more expensive tickets, if you don't quite have enough for a freebie. Many of the reputable companies, such as Virgin, even have their own credit cards so that you can get even more miles just for making your everyday purchases.
Your accommodation is important because it's literally where you're going to sleep at night! Depending on the type of traveler that you are, you'll have different ideas about your levels of comfort and of course, your budget.
For standard hotels, using a comparison site like Trivago is a great idea - you can search prices from low to high, or even in reverse if you're feeling flush. Hotels.com even offers a free night on your tenth night booked with them! For the budget traveler, you can do the same - using Hostelworld, you can choose from a range of hostels and read customers' reviews.
These days, why not take advantage of the market share economy? AirBnB allows travelers to stay in other people's homes or spare rooms, for a fraction of the cost of a fancy hotel. You can benefit from referral discounts, and you should research other ways to save (and ensure safety, too) before you go.
Once you start getting into traveling on a budget, you can see that you can still have exactly the kind of trip you'd usually like, without cutting corners. Keep your eyes out for deals and offers, and keep your eye on the prize!
Photo credit: Hotel Parsifal, Ravello 2012 (mainly)