A cheap holiday can be had whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, as a couple or with family. All it takes is a little trip planning and the vacation you want at the price you want can be yours. To help you do just, Thrifty Tourist has put together our 6-Step Trip Planning Guide.
Want to get away but not sure where? Start your vacation planning by sitting down and brainstorming, on your own or with fellow vacation-hungry comrade, a list of places that tickle your fancy. If you’re brain dead and need some help coming up with ideas do a little research and reading. For starters you could cruise the pages of ThriftyTourist.ca.
Once you know where you want to go, you need to decide on where you’re going to stay when you get there. If you’re heading to a popular Canadian or American city you’ll find a variety of affordable accommodation ideas ranging from hotels, bed & breakfast places and vacation rentals to hostels and university campus residences on Thrifty Tourist. If you want to expand your planning and investigate more cheap places to stay on your vacation, TripAdvisor reviews of hotels and other accommodation options are always a solid source of insight.
If you’re travelling in a large group or as family and your stay will be three days or more, you can save a lot of money on your accommodations by booking a vacation rental. Again you can check out vacation rental deals at TripAdvisor or another good option is the website Vacation Home Rentals. If you’re young and really travelling on the cheap, then you should definitely plan to spend some time on Hostelworld, where you can review over 15,000 hostel properties worldwide.
You know where you want to go, you know where you would like to stay, but before you book anything, don’t forget to include checking flight availability in your trip planning. A simple way to do that is through a website like FlightNetwork. Visit their website and you can compare flight prices. If you decide to book through FlightNetwork, you could save some extra bucks even after you’ve purchased your ticket. How? Because they guarantee that if the price drops after you’ve purchased your ticket, they’ll refund you the difference. Near a US border city? Check to see if Southwest Airlines flies out of that city’s airport. Quite often, even with the Canadian dollar being lower than the US dollar you can still get a great deal on airfare. Especially if you book a mid-week flight.
Once your accommodations and flights are out of the way, it’s time to plan what you’re going to see and do on your vacation. Something the Thrifty Tourist highly recommends when you set foot in a new city is to get a sense of the lay of the land by taking a tour on your first day. Turns out we’re not the only ones who think this way–tours generally sell out quickly. Avoid missing out by booking your tour in advance. A great website for doing this is Viator. Viator has offices around the world and a team of people who have tried out and handpicked the best local tours.
If you’re the type of tourist who likes to check out as many of the go-to attractions a city has to offer as possible, than buying an attraction pass is smart planning. But, remember, the cheapest pass isn’t always the best pass. The key to deciding which pass is right for you is to compare what attractions are included with each one. Some passes try and make their’s look better by padding them with lame attractions. Luckily most attraction passes, like CityPass, are available to pre-buy online, which means you can compare what they have to offer ahead of time as part of your vacation planning.
One of the more popular attractions passes that’s available in a host of US cities and Toronto, Canada is CityPASS which promises up to 50% off the best attractions. If your planning on heading over the pond you should take a look at The London Pass which saves you money on 60+ London attractions and tours including the Tower of London, seeing the Crown Jewels, Westminster Abbey, Thames River Cruise, Churchill War Rooms bunker, Kengsington Palace, Windsor Castle and many more.
If your vacation is going to be a trip to Paris you should definitely include The Paris Pass in your plans. It provides access to 60 museums–including express entry into the Louvre, the Orsay and the Rodin, a one-day hop-on hop-off bus tour, entry to seven attractions, free admission to public transportation–both the subway and buses–and a comprehensive guidebook which even includes suggested daily itineraries. C’est magnifique!
One of the joys of going on vacation is not having to cook meals, but spoiling yourself with lunches and dinners out can quickly give your travel budget indigestion. You can counter that with a little planning. No one expects you to brown bag it when it comes to your vacation meals, but if you can sprinkle in some affordable places to eat into your menu, then you won’t feel guilty when you splurge on that must-dine-here restaurant you’ve heard about. If you’re visiting pretty much any city in Canada or the United States you can find meal deals on Groupon, not to mention some tasty offers on local theatre, attractions, concerts and events.
Be thrifty and practical! This information was accurate when published, but can change without notice. We recommend you confirm all details with the provider in question before planning your excursion.
Photo credits: Annette + Powerbook + Teh Interwebz.