If there ever was a time to plan a budget vacation, it’s now, with inflation running at its highest rate since 1981. Travel prices are up across the board, from air fares and lodging to gasoline and rental cars.
One of the best ways to save on travel costs is to plan ahead, according to a new survey of 1,000-plus budget travelers conducted by VacationRenter, a platform that uses automation and artificial intelligence to help travelers find rentals.
The survey found that on average, travelers who took four months or longer to plan a trip spent significantly less on accommodations and travel ($370) than those who planned for less than a month ($446).
More than half of respondents (55%) took at least one month to plan ahead for their vacations, including 14% who took four months or longer.
Advance vacation planning saves money in several ways. One of the biggest is that you can find cheaper advance air fares by booking your flight well ahead of time. Similarly, you have extra time to compare hotel rates and destinations.
Even planning as little as a month in advance is beneficial because it gives you time to create a vacation budget. As noted on the Ally Bank website, advance budgeting can help you avoid surprise expenses. The key is to build a budget and stick to it when you book and while you’re away. Here are the costs to consider:
- Transportation (taxis, rental cars, trains, buses)
- Food and drink
- Entertainment (museums, tours, live shows)
For the purposes of the VacationRenter survey, budget travelers are those who spend $1,500 or less per vacation. Among respondents, the average spending on a budget-friendly vacation was $957, with individual costs broken down as follows:
- Transportation: $204
- Accommodations: $236
- Food: $200
- Activities: $154
- Entertainment: $163
Gen Z respondents had the cheapest average spending, at $754. They were followed by millennials ($953) and baby boomers ($1,010). Gen X respondents spent the most at an average of $1,023.
More than half (57%) of budget travelers went out of state, while 32% stayed in-state and 11% visited another country.
In terms of saving money on vacation, here are the top three strategies budget travelers use:
- Traveled during off-season (53%): Off-peak travel helps you save on accommodations, rental cars, restaurants, and tours. The downsides are the possibility of less-than-ideal weather and reduced opening hours for local attractions.
- Opted for cheaper transportation (42%): If you learn that it’s cheaper to drive or take a train than fly (or vice versa), you can save a lot of money by choosing the least expensive option. Even if you have to fly you should look into discount airlines to find the best deal.
- Stayed with family or friends (39%): Here’s a way to not only save on lodging, but also share quality time with folks you don’t get to see too often. Take them out to a nice dinner one night while you’re in town to show your appreciation — and let them know you’ll return the favor by hosting them when they take a vacation in your neck of the woods
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