Summer season is here and you would be lounging at the beach right now if only your bank account wasn’t running on empty. But don’t fret because we have some tips to help you make that dream vacation a reality–at a fraction of the price. So read on and start making your travel plans now!

1. Go DIY.
One easy way to save on travel is to plan the trip yourself instead of signing up for travel packages. It’s going to require more time and effort on your part, but the upside is that you can fully customize your itinerary to your heart’s desires. You’ll also get to pick the most budget-friendly options when it comes to accommodations, activities, and meals. Travel planning is also a lot of fun in itself especially when you’re doing it with friends or your SO, and it’s going to up the anticipation and excitement as your vacation date gets nearer!

2. Skip the tourist traps and go local.
When traveling, always keep this in mind: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Don’t confine yourself to the tourist attractions; instead explore the off-beaten tracks. Skip the commercial hotel chains and check in at hostels or bed and breakfasts. Eat where the locals eat; go around using local transportation; shop at home-grown markets and boutiques. Talk to the residents to find out where the best happenings are. Not only will you gain more savings–local is a whole lot cheaper than tourist-branded–but you’ll also have a more immersive and authentic experience.

3. Take advantage of tax refunds.
If shopping is one of the highlights of your trip, find out if you can avail of tax refunds. Some countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam have services that reimburse the Value-Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST) that you paid for on your shopping. Take note that tax refunds have certain regulations such as minimum amount spent and restrictions on types of products so make sure that you meet all the requirements before availing of this benefit. Also, take note that you’ll have to pay the corresponding tax once you get back home–but it will be a lot cheaper since you’ll be paying it in local currency.

4. Learn how to haggle.
If there’s one skill that you must absolutely learn and master while traveling, it’s how to haggle. You’d be surprised how much cheaper you can get things if you just ask and negotiate. Besides, most of the rates and prices at tourist spots are inflated anyway, so bargaining can save you more money in the long run. Prices are almost always negotiable as long as you know how to haggle right.

5. Sign up for free activities.
You don’t always have to spend in order to fully enjoy a travel destination. If you know where to look, you can take advantage of tours and activities at absolutely no cost. You can inquire with your hotel if they organize complimentary excursions for guests. Or if you know a local resident, you can ask them to show you around the most interesting spots or recommend the best events to go to. The most memorable experiences can be had for free if you’re just willing to explore and be adventurous.

6. Save your spare change.
When we’re out traveling, we hardly pay attention to the small purchases that we make–a bottle of water to quench the exhaustion of touring, some street snacks to tame hunger pangs, or a couple of cute trinkets to bring home as souvenirs. But if you’re not careful, these small things can add up and eventually put a dent on your wallet. Be conscious of where your spare change is going and find ways to avoid unplanned expenses. For instance, you can carry a water bottle and baon during tours or you can canvass for the best souvenir shops before buying any cheap trinkets.

7. Beat the baggage fees.
Baggage fees are not cheap, even for budget airlines. And if you’re not careful, they can eat away at your precious and limited travel money. When you’re booking flights, opt out of the extra baggage add-on unless you absolutely need it. Learn the art of packing light and fit all your essentials in a hand-carry bag. And make sure to weigh all of your stuff and keep them within the allowable limit to avoid excess baggage charges.

8. Collect miles.
If you’re always on the road because of work or sheer passion for traveling, you can rack up some significant savings by joining a travel loyalty or frequent flyer program. Many establishments (especially banks) offer this type of reward, so if you’re eligible, sign up and make full use of it. It may take some time to collect enough points or miles, but they pay off big time–you can get cheaper fares, upgrades, and even free tickets in exchange for your miles!

9. Opt for night-time travel.
Most people won’t think of scheduling their trips during the night-time but if you want to stretch your travel budget, it’s a no-brainer option. For one, airfares are much cheaper at night because it’s the off-peak hours and most promo fare flights are also scheduled during these times. You can also save money on accommodation because you’ll have one less night to pay for in a hotel. And since you’ll be on rest-mode on the way to your destination, you‘ll be energized and ready to explore the moment you touch down.

10. Travel slow.
It’s tempting to cram as many activities in your itinerary and go to as many places as you can during a trip. But blazing through everything will just wear you out and make you spend more. So why not slow it down a notch and truly immerse in what the place has to offer? Take the time to explore and relish the sights, sounds, and unique offerings of your destination. Keeping your itinerary small and relaxed will not only help you save on transfers and accommodations, but also allow you to truly savor your vacation.

PHOTO: Pixabay; GIFS: Giphy

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