As summer approaches, Canadians are looking to get out and enjoy the many wonderful sights and experiences the world has to offer. Whether you're looking for a tropical getaway, an urban adventure or a camping excursion, you don't have to break the bank to have a good time. Consider these tips for planning your upcoming vacation on a budget.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
First and foremost, if you want to enjoy your summer vacation without worrying about money, you'll need to make a realistic budget. In general, it's best to stay away from your long-term savings, such as the money in your retirement account. Instead, consider setting aside a small portion of your paycheck for fun activities.
If you're not sure how much you should budget for your vacation, start by researching your ideal destinations. Whether you're looking for a vacation package or you want to book everything yourself, try looking at average hotel rates and airfares to get an idea of what you can expect to spend.
It's a good idea to write down your budget so you can refer back to it later. You may want to use a spreadsheet to keep track of expenses as you book various aspects of your trip in advance. Keeping a close eye on how much you spend will help make sure you don't go over budget.
Consider off-peak destinations
If your ideal vacation destination is out of your price range, look into off-season rates. For example, when it's summer in Canada, it's winter in Australia. Nevertheless, the average high temperature is still a comfortable 19 degrees, according to Accuweather. By travelling in the off season, you can save money and get better access to many tourist attractions.
According to the Travel Channel, other off-season summer destinations include Mexico, Vietnam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Belize. Airlines and hotels with services in these areas often slash their rates during the summer months - so you may be able to book a luxurious experience at an affordable price.
Look at Destinations Closer to Home
If you're on a tight budget this year, look for exciting destinations a little closer to your own backyard. Canada and the U.S. have a lot to offer in terms of cultural experiences, relaxing resorts and gorgeous natural environments.
Outdoor enthusiasts have dozens of options when it comes to exploring the great outdoors. National Parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Jasper and Point Pelee may only be a few hours away by car or plane.
Likewise, many excellent museums can be found throughout North America, Some, and a lot of them offer free days as well as student and senior discounts. The American Alliance of Museums is a great resource for finding museums across the United States. And check out Canada Keep Exploring for 15 of the best Canadian museums.
Wherever you decide to go, there are likely many free activities to enjoy. Finding a scenic place to enjoy the sunset, visiting public libraries and walking through community fairs are just a few examples. Once you've determined your destination, go online to look up free or discounted activities.
When travelling to somewhere exotic, it can be fun to simply grab a cup of coffee and explore your new surroundings on foot. Just make sure you carry the phone number of a reputable taxi company in case you get lost. Similarly, bicycle rentals can be very affordable and offer a way to see the new city from a different perspective.
Book Non-Traditional Lodgings
In recent years, home sharing services have made it easy for locals to rent out their homes to visitors. Sites like Airbnb allow travellers to stay in a number of non-traditional lodgings, from metropolitan penthouses to forest-side yurts. Booking a residence rather than a hotel gives visitors a chance to live like a local for a few days. Plus, Airbnb rentals are less costly than hotels. When booking through Airbnb, always check user reviews and only pick lodgings with high ratings.
When you plan in advance, travel doesn't have to be expensive. Set a budget, then research your options to have a great summer vacation experience.