Creative ways to travel on a budget

By: Sijun Li

Travel season has arrived, and after a harsh winter of sitting in your cubicle wishing for sunshine, you can probably hear the ocean waves calling your name.

The only problem: your limited travel budget.

Few people feel gratified during the summer if they don’t take at least one vacation, be it a weekend getaway, week-long trip to their favorite destination or a new place. However, airfare and hotel rates are expected to rise this year, along with the cost of filling your tank, making your exciting travel plans seem more precarious than ever.

The good news is there is plenty you can do to keep your costs low and secure some lucrative deals and discounts. You just have to be willing to work for them. Listed below are several lesser-known ways to get a great price and plan your much-needed getaway.

1. Speak with hotel managers

When you’re getting ready to book a hotel, you might want to take the simple and quick approach of booking your reservation online. You may even get a discount for doing so. However, everything is a negotiation and a recent U.S. News and World Report article spilled a secret that most travelers can use to their advantage. Asking a manager or supervisor for a better rate may just land you a better price. Similar to negotiating with a credit card lender or salesman, you have nothing to lose by contacting the hotel, requesting to speak with a manager and asking them to match a previous rate offered by the hotel in the past. You may even mention that you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary. While it’s not always fool-proof, many managers may oblige, particularly if they have open rooms during your travel period.

2. Rent a house

If you’re going to be a location for several days or a week, hotel prices – even at a negotiated rate – can still be costly. Many tourist destinations provide online services that allow you to rent a furnished home for your stay at a significantly more affordable rate. You will have more space, a full kitchen so that you don’t have to spend money on dinners out each night and more money in your pocket to spend on activities.

3. Be more selective with your destination

Touring Europe for the summer or going on a cruise to the Bahamas may be your choice vacation plans, but these may be on every other traveler’s list as well. Knowing an area’s peak tourist season can help you make decisions about when to travel, as certain periods of the year are more expensive for travelers than other. Rather than going to Europe in the summer – when you will be bombarded with tourists – consider planning a trip in the fall to get better rates.