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Budgeting: Summer Travel and More

Provided by Visa, Content Partner for the SME Toolkit

Tips for Saving on Travel

1. Be realistic about what you can afford. Hey, we all want an amazing, no-holds-barred vacation, but choosing a trip you can't afford will likely add more stress to your life. After all, what's the point of taking time to relax if you'll be paying for it for several months to come?

2. Create a trip budget. Take advantage of this Travel Calculator, which can help you calculate the cost of gas, lodging, food and more. 

3. Shop around. There are a wealth of sites that make it easy to compare fares from a variety of airlines, hotels and rental car companies. It's a savvy traveler's world—take advantage.

4. Protect yourself. When ordering tickets, make sure the sites you are using are legitimate. Once on your trip, safeguard your identity by keeping your passport, driver's license and credit cards in a safe place away from view. Also make sure to make photocopies in case of theft. To avoid becoming a victim of identity theft while traveling, read our tips.

5. Expect the unexpected. Credit cards get lost. Flights get delayed. Storms arrive unexpectedly. Keep unknowns in mind when planning your trip, and set aside an extra 10 to 15% of your travel budget for emergencies or surprises.

6. Take advantage of technology. These days, few travelers leave home without their smartphones and iPads. Apps like Hotel Tonight and iFly Pro allow you to digitally book hotels, check in for flights and organize itineraries.

7. Consider alternative lodging. Companies like Airbnb, a service that allows you to rent unoccupied living space in other people’s homes, are increasingly popular – and in many cases, cheaper.

Whatever type of travel you're considering, here are some ideas for getting the most out of your trip without breaking the bank.


Many travelers are embracing the concept of saving thousands on airfare and lodging by spending time off near home and enjoying inexpensive activities in their area. Here are a few ways to get the most out of yours.

  • Create a solid staycation plan so you don’t get stuck doing errands and chores.
  • Turn off your cell and close that laptop. Limiting your time on tech means time off that more closely resembles a real vacation; it can also help you avoid racking up prime-time minutes.
  • Pick low-cost activities over high-cost ones; remember, more expensive doesn’t always mean more fun.
  • Check out all of the nearby spots you’ve wanted to visit, and consider daytrips. They’ll allow you to see the sights and enjoy a change of scenery without having to pay for an overnight stay.


Many people swear by the constant availability of delicious food, breathtaking views, nonstop entertainment and plush accommodations. Not to mention activities for both children and adults, plus free childcare. Here are some tips for getting the most cruise for the least cash:

  • Find a deal. The cruise industry is in need of passengers right now, which means there are a huge number of deals out there. 
  • Choose a veteran line. When new cruise lines debut, they tend to have higher rates because of a higher demand for tickets. Save yourself some money by going with the tried and true.
  • Research the destinations. Cruise lines generally don’t provide much information about port cities. To get the most out of your time in ports and to avoid expensive meals, decide on budget-friendly eats and activities by doing your pre-trip research.
  • Don’t double tip. Most cruise lines include tips in their fees, so make sure you’re not double tipping while on board.


Follow these tips for seeing the world on a shoestring budget:
  • Know the exchange rate of the country you’re planning to visit. 
  • Be flexible with travel dates to save on flights. Booking a vacation in “off months” can also offer significant savings.
  • Shop package deals. Sometimes purchasing airfare, lodging and a rental car at once can offer hundreds of dollars in savings.
  • Pack smart so you don’t have to stock up on expensive items upon your arrival, like film, special clothes and toiletries.
  • Exchange currency at banks, not at hotels or airports. This is where you’ll find the best exchange rates.
  • Be careful with cabs etc. Find out the going rate of activities, food and cab fare, and don’t be afraid to bargain. Visitors will likely have to pay more than locals, but it pays to have an idea of what’s fair or you could end up paying significantly more. Research the local public transportation to get around town and to and from the airport. Many cities offer weekly passes for buses and underground trains for a significant savings.
  • Consider playing it by ear. If you don’t choose a package deal, it’s generally much less expensive to plan for your lodging after arrival, so you can cut out the fees paid to travel agents, websites and operations.

Wellness Vacation

Exhausted from your busy daily life? Spend some time taking care of your health. Take a look at where you can go to relax, unwind and get yourself in shape:

  • Spas. If you’re craving a deep tissue massage, facial or pedicure, check out a hotel or resort that offers spa services.
  • Yoga retreats. Are you a yogi? If you dream of practicing yoga on the beach of the Mediterranean, there is a vacation package for that.
  • Juice bars. Juice cleanses intended to detoxify the body are popular these days and some hotels are offering special packages centered around the cleanse.
  • Fitness. For those who want to stay fit during vacation, hotels also provide fitness packages that can include workout apparel, classes and access to fitness centers.


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