When traveling independently you will almost always do better in terms of price and quality if you veer away from the traditional places to eat and shops that the guide books mention.
Going off the beaten track can mean you pick up a real bargain.
Follow the locals; if you head for a tourist orientated restaurant or shop you will find that the prices are substantially higher and often the food is not of the same quality.
Another good tip is to visit the local market where the locals shop. Not only will you get fresh products at good prices but you will also enjoy the experience of mixing with the locals. Ask those around you where to go, after all, it is the locals that are best placed to tell you where to go for a good deal!
A good way of working out whether a restaurant is geared towards tourists or locals is to see when it is at its busiest. Tourists tend to eat a lot earlier than the locals in most foreign countries. Any restaurant that is empty until around 9pm and then fills up is probably frequented by locals.
When it comes to rental cars the costs can vary widely and it really pays to shop around. Sometimes you will be offered good deals as part of your hotel stay or airfare, consider these as combination deals will also be a lot cheaper than you could get on your own.
Booking car rental when you have reached your destination is normally cheaper than reserving in advance if you have not got a good combination deal.
Make sure that you have suitable insurance, as any accident could make a huge dent in your holiday budget! There are good ways to save money, but insurance is not an area that you should scrimp on.
Always select the smallest car that is suitable for your needs, this will be cheaper and will cost less in gas. There is also a reasonable chance that you will be upgraded for free. If you are feeling bold, it is worth asking at the counter if there is any chance of a free upgrade, you never know your luck!
If you are booking car hire from a distance, look at the costs of car hire from the airport as well as from the city that you are staying in. Car hire companies will pay more to have an airport franchise and you may find this reflected in the prices that you are quoted.
Always fill up the gas before you get back to the car rental office. Car rental companies will charge well over the odds for any extra gas that they need to replace on your behalf so take the time to tank up before you get back if you do not want a large bill at the end.
Budget Travel With A Family
Traveling as a family can really add to the costs. Children are often charged a lot more than seems fair and the overall price of a family holiday can soon get out of hand by the time you factor in all of the food and activities.
An increasingly popular choice for families is the family camp. Accommodation varies with everything from a basic tent to well equipped log cabins with all of the modern facilities that you would expect in a large hotel.
YMCA offer a range of camps such as the Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado that spans 5,100 acres and can host 2,500 people in cabins. Activities are available for children aged 3 and over including skiing, climbing and riding. Adults can enjoy use of the gym and health centre or simply enjoy a bit of quiet time while the children are being tired out!
Money Saving Booking Tips
When you are booking with children it is really important to get to know what deals are available. Some companies offer children’s prices right up to 16 years old, others start to charge full price at age 3. Depending on the age of your children, one company may prove substantially cheaper for the same holiday.
Consider your sleeping arrangements carefully. Some hotels will offer adjoining rooms, others will have family rooms that sleep children as well as adults. Most hotels will not allow young children in their own room, so bear this in mind when booking.
If you have more than two children you may find that an apartment offers better value for money and more usable space. A two or three bedroom cottage will often be a lot cheaper than two or three rooms in a hotel.
Use the children as a means of negotiation. For example, ask for a discount on their air fare or accommodation or ask for free entrance to an activity while you are booking.
Keeping a Lid on Spending Money
Traveling with children can be expensive when you add up the costs of activities, food and children’s clubs if they are available. If you are working to a budget then it may well be worth considering an all-inclusive holiday resort. Although these are normally more expensive to book initially, it is easier to anticipate your spending in advance.
As meals and drinks are included you will not have to worry about the constant demands from the children for soda!
Find out how much children’s clubs will cost and when they are available, prices can vary substantially, so do your homework if you are not to get stung with a large bill at the end of the holiday.
It may even be worth traveling with another family with children of a similar age, as the adults can then take it in turns to child mind, meaning that everyone gets a break and the children have friends to play with! Also the bigger the group the bigger the discounts, normally, so even if you do not want to spend the whole time with another family, you can still benefit from booking together.
Finding a bargain holiday is all about being aware of the market and the deals that are available.
Pay attention to the basics such as when you are going to travel or where you want to travel. If you can be a bit different to the masses you will find that you can make huge savings.
Plan in advance and join as many reward programs as you can so that you can be made aware of upcoming deals and benefit from long term savings.
Consider shopping online and using auction sites as well as waiting to the last minute, if you are not fussy about destination. Alternatively, using the online consolidators will give you an excellent idea of the prices that are currently on offer.
Being aware of what you can get gives you a hugely advantageous bargaining point. Just remember, you are the customer, so ask for what you want, and don’t be afraid to haggle.