There are 3 different travelers you’ll come across. There’s the planners, the spontaneous ones, and then everyone in between. I definitely fall towards the “planners” side and can say with experience- I’ve saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars because of it!
This post will probably annoy the heck out of those that love spontaneous travel 😳 I understand why though. Traveling without a plan is freeing, it’s a great way to meet people (and then split your travel funds with them!), and a lot of the best travel experiences are the ones that go unplanned. However, if you’re trying to live a travel lifestyle, only have X amount of dollars to spend, or just want to assure you’re getting the most value for your money, planning ahead is KEY!
I mentioned before I’m speaking from experience…a full non-stop travel year to be exact and then some! Time and time again, I’ve found that I’ve always saved more when planning ahead, rather than as I go.
1. You Maintain Full Control Over Your Budget
When trying to stick to a strict budget, booking your entire itinerary at once is the most reliable way to guarantee you won’t go over! The numbers are right in front of you, and you can keep track and add them up on a Google spreadsheet, meaning the only way you’ll overspend is if Google makes a miscalculation (so it’s pretty much impossible!).
When booking hotels/hostels and flights last minute, it’s common that the cheapest bookings are already taken and you’ll have to settle for the higher price tag due to heavy supply and demand. It’s also typical to settle for higher prices when desperately searching for affordable, vacant accommodation while lugging your bag after a tiring day of travel (trust me, I know 🙈).
Also, by booking before, you get a good idea of the general costs you’ll encounter in that destination. For example, the pricier the average 3-star hotel price, you can guess the food and taxis in that city will follow the same expensive theme. With this knowledge, you’ll be prepared when it comes to budgeting in that destination.
2. Research SAVES Money & Guarantees Value
Preparation is HUGE when managing your travel budget, which is why research beforehand is so essential. One area it proves to be super helpful in is discovering the cheapest travel routes. Rome2Rio will not only show you the cheapest mode of travel (bus, flight, ferry, etc.), it will also reveal what itinerary order is cheapest if traveling to multiple cities/countries.
Another way research will save you money is through discovering the best cheap eats. Food tends to be quite costly while traveling and eating out for every meal, so this research will make a huge difference in your spending. Without this prior knowledge, it’s all too easy to settle for expensive meals in tourist traps or end up at inedible affordable spots.
Lastly, if you research shoulder seasons beforehand, you can handpick your itinerary based on low prices and less tourists. This means more quality travel experiences at a lower price!
3. You Have Access to the Cheapest Flights
Flights are always a huge portion of a travel budget, so this is an important point. Throughout all my travel experience, I learned that finding the cheapest flights is all about planning ahead. For international flights, 4-6 months before does the trick, while around 2 months before works best for domestic flights. Don’t get forced into buying abnormally expensive flights by having to book the day before!
4. You Get The Best Accommodation for the Lowest Price
This one’s simple. It should come as no surprise that the best budget accommodation is always the first to sell out! If the quality of your accommodation is important to you, then booking ahead should also be important to you.
AirBnB is great for finding affordable rentals, but few quality and affordable listings stay available when booking in the same month you’ll be traveling. The same rule generally applies to hotels and hostels as well, depending on how popular the tourist destination is and if it’s high travel season.
Do you agree? Has planning ahead saved you travel dollars in the past? Or do you prefer spontaneous travel? I’d love to hear in the comments below! 😊
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