Make Your Dream Trip a Reality With These Tips

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If you have a bad case of wanderlust, try these tips to help cut costs without cutting into your fun.

No one has to tell you that travel is expensive. From airfare to accommodations, it’s no wonder you get sticker shock after pricing out your dream trip. But there’s no need to resign yourself to a lifetime of staycations either. Here’s how to make it happen…

Be flexible

For all those times you’re desperate to get out of town, and you’re not picky about exactly when, use a site that lets you choose based on price, rather than date. For example, the ITA Flight Matrix can display the lowest flight prices offered by major airlines for your destination, over a 30 day period. If you prefer to go low-tech, a travel agent can help you shop for the best prices over a range of dates and may have insider discounts to share. Either way, you can cherry pick the cheapest dates to go and come back, without having compare prices across a bunch of different sites.

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Fly out of a smaller airport

Regional airports may not have the same amenities as their larger counterparts. So yes, you might have to skip your pre-flight Frappuccino. But will you mind once you see how much you saved? Nope. These pint-sized hubs often have more seat availability and may charge lower fees and taxes on your actual ticket. Lines and security checkpoints tend to be faster, and a few even offer perks like low-cost parking on site. Another reason to try flying from one? Some discount airlines avoid the major airports in an area completely, choosing to service these smaller airports instead.

Don’t splurge on breakfast

If you’re booking an Airbnb, pick up a few items to prep your own breakfast. Yogurt, milk, fruit, and eggs are all inexpensive items you can stash in the fridge to make a quick meal. They’re versatile enough to work as a healthy anytime snack. If you’re going the hotel route, choosing a property that includes breakfast options is a great value-add. It’s also one less thing to think about, especially on those hungover mornings where you had a bit too much fun the night before, and you need something in your stomach, stat. At the very least, an in-suite coffee maker is standard in most hotel rooms. If you’re a light eater, that plus a few granola bars or a box of cereal could keep you going until lunch.

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Stay awhile

While it might be tempting to city—or even country-hop (depending on where you’re going), it’s cost-saving to stay in one place. A huge part of any travel budget is the cost of transportation and accommodations, so if you’re hitting up multiple new locales, expect your bank account to feel the pinch. Instead, slow down and take the time to really explore where you’ve landed. Take in the sights and go off the beaten path. You can always go on day trips to the surrounding areas if you’re really itching to see more.

Do your research

While there are joys to being spontaneous, the best way to save money is to plan ahead. If you have a list of must-sees, make sure to check online before you go. Some major attractions offer discounts, or even let you beat the lineup if you buy tickets ahead of time. Many museums are known for having pay-what-you-can or free admission days, and festivals or public events are often free to attend. Plan your activities based on promos you find on tourism bureau sites, or Groupon. You can score some pretty fantastic meal or travel experiences for a fraction of the price. Bon voyage!