The 2024 Guide to Traveling on a Budget

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Planning a memorable vacation doesn't have to break the bank. Whether you dream of exploring exotic destinations or unwinding on a sandy beach, we’ve put together this short and sweet guide for planning an unforgettable journey while keeping your budget intact. In this article, we'll unveil proven strategies along with insider tips and tricks to help you plan and enjoy a budget-friendly vacation. Let's dive in and discover how you can make the most of your vacation without emptying your wallet.

Do Your Research, Plan Ahead, and Be Flexible

If there’s one rule of thumb for planning a vacation on a budget – timing is everything. Start your planning process by researching to find the sweet spot between peak and off-peak seasons. Sites like Google Flights and Kayak can help you determine when you’ll be able to secure the best deals on flights, accommodations, and attractions – and you don’t have to book through them if you choose not to. Consider looking beyond the usual tourist hotspots to find hidden gems and lesser-known destinations. These locations are often cheaper places to travel and offer a more authentic experience.

Book Budget-Friendly Accommodations

Accommodations can drastically impact the total cost of your vacation, but the good news is there are suitable lodging options for every budget. Sites like Priceline and can help you compare prices and find the best deals on hotels. Depending on where you’re going, it might be worth considering staying slightly outside of the city center to save some money.

For budget-friendly vacation rentals, home-sharing platforms like Airbnb and VRBO offer affordable and comfortable accommodations with more space and flexibility than a traditional hotel. These options can give you an exceptional rate on a more organic experience in the city you’re visiting, since you’ll often stay in neighborhoods or apartments near locals. However, it’s important to keep in mind there may be additional fees, like cleaning and occupancy charges, that are not shown in your initial search.

If you don’t mind shared spaces, large cities often have hostels available for travelers to rent a private bed and locker. This type of lodging is commonly available abroad, and while it might not be the most luxurious place to stay, this is a chance to stretch your budget and make your trip a more social experience.

Put Your Credit Card Rewards and Loyalty Points to Use

Rewards points are meant to be cashed in, and there is no better time to redeem them than for a much-needed vacation. Whether you’re using cash back, credit card rewards, or loyalty program points, these bonuses can make a significant contribution to your vacation fund. If you’re wondering how you can take advantage of these rewards for yourself, consider applying for the SouthState Travel Rewards Plus Credit Card or the SouthState Reserve Rewards Plus Credit Card. These cards are designed to offer high-value benefits and rich rewards specifically tailored to travelers.

If you aren’t currently enrolled in a loyalty program, consider signing up through your preferred airline, hotel, and car rental companies for the chance to earn points or discounts for future vacations.

Transportation Hacks

In addition to being open to adjusting your travel dates to take advantage of cheaper flights, opting for public transportation as opposed to private is another area where you can save money. Research and utilize local train, subway, and ferry options to save on rental car expenses or expensive taxi fares. If you don’t mind a shared experience, you could also try carpooling services or ride-sharing apps to share transportation costs with other travelers or locals.

Dining and Entertainment

Food is one of the best aspects of traveling. Rather than opting for pricy, touristy restaurants, venture to local eateries and street food vendors to savor authentic flavors at affordable prices. Stopping by a local deli or grocery store to pick up ingredients is a fun way to save on meal costs. You can grab elements to make a picnic to enjoy on a day trip or anywhere with a scenic view.

If you’re looking to do any guided excursions on your trip, consider outsourcing your activities through companies like Viator. While your resort or cruise line may offer excursions to be booked through them, booking independently can save you hundreds of dollars on some activities. Just keep in mind that if you are under time constraints, it’s your responsibility to ensure you get back on time if you outsource your excursions.

No matter where you go, be sure to take advantage of free attractions, parks, museums, and community events to enhance your vacation experience without breaking the bank.

Stay Mindful of Hidden Costs

When traveling on a budget, it’s important to stay mindful of any hidden costs you may be accruing along the way. Foreign transaction fees often slip the mind of many travelers, and those small fees can add up quickly over the course of your vacation. Foreign transaction fees can be avoided with SouthState’s travel-friendly credit cards: SouthState Travel Rewards Plus Credit Card and the SouthState Reserve Rewards Plus Credit Card.

When booking accommodations, be aware of additional fees or taxes that might not be included in the initial price like parking, resort fees, and any automatically included gratuities.

Lastly, don’t forget about the roaming charges you can accrue on your cellular device. You can utilize free wi-fi networks whenever they’re available to avoid roaming charges when traveling abroad and keep your phone on airplane mode when not in use. Be sure to check out these tips cyber-savvy travelers know to learn how to keep your personal information safe when traveling.

Start Saving for Your Next Trip Now

The best time to start saving for your next vacation is now. SouthState offers multiple savings account options and budgeting tools that can help you track your expenses and stay on target. To make saving easy, you can leverage the automatic transfers feature to set aside a portion of your income specifically for your vacation fund. Open a savings account online or contact a banker for more information.

Remember, a budget-friendly getaway doesn't mean compromising on quality or fun. Start planning today and embark on an unforgettable adventure without worrying about your finances.

About the Author, Erin D. Fennelly: Erin D. Fennelly serves as the Consumer Bank Market Manager for North Atlanta. She has more than 20 years of experience in banking, 15 of which have been with SouthState Bank.

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