Traveling the world is not something only accomplished by trust fund kids and lottery winners. With some basic know-how, you can research and plan an epic vacation without going into debt or wiping out your life savings. Traveling smart is all about making trades and being intentional with your money.
This is the third post in our Travel on a Budget Series. If you missed our first post, be sure to check out the introduction, which provides an overview, before getting into the connected articles. Take a look, then hop back to learn even more travel tips for how you can travel on a budget by considering the timing and the duration of your trip.
Other posts in this series…
How Timing & Duration Impact Your Wallet – you are here :0)
Travel on a budget with flexible timing
High vs Low Season
If you can be flexible on the timing of your next adventure, you can score some major discounts! Avoid high/peak season travel to save serious cash between transportation, accommodations, and activities. Instead, consider if traveling during the low/offseason might be a great option for you.
Part of what makes the low season a bargain is the weather. You trade money for conditions. It’s cheaper to be there, but less enjoyable, too. Ever visit the tropics during the rainy season, or travel somewhere cold in the winter? Not so much fun to experience.
But, sometimes the destination weather is beautiful during the low season. Take the Caribbean, for example. It’s gorgeous there year round. So what makes it a high season or low season? The terrible winter weather that the travelers are escaping! People flock to warmer climates during colder months. More demand means less supply and bam- high season!
Most people have heard of high season and low season when it comes to travel, but have you heard about shoulder-season?
Shoulder-season is the time between high season and low season and it holds some sweet deals. For example, peak season in Europe is mid-June to August, and low season is November to March. That makes shoulder season April through mid-June and September through October (essentially spring and fall). Traveling during shoulder season will still afford you great weather, but you may find fewer crowds and somewhat cheaper travel costs.
Shoulder-season doesn’t offer the same deep discounts as the low season can, but it comes with big improvements in the weather.
Seek out deals during shoulder-season to score the best of both worlds. You’ll find some great deals to help you travel on a budget and the days will have adequate sunlight, but the weather will still be inviting, too!
Consider the timing of day trips
If you travel to popular tourist destinations during peak season, be prepared for lots of crowds- especially if the destination is a popular cruise stop! If you want to enjoy a city during peak season, but don’t want to deal with all the hustle and bustle, consider spending an evening or night there. Cruise ships depart and road trippers head out after a busy day, leaving a more peaceful, relaxed city in their wake. Enjoy a quieter evening and an early morning before the daytrippers return.
Timing travel advice
- Keep your timing flexible for the best rates
- Travel during shoulder season to get great weather and good deals
- Round-trip airfares are determined by your departure date, so if you depart from home in peak season, and return during shoulder season, you may still pay a premium fare.
- Consider low-season travel for rock bottom pricing
- If you have to travel high season due to schedules, scout out deals months or years in advance whenever possible (If you book this far out, I highly recommend traveler’s insurance)
- Be flexible on flying days- it’s cheaper to fly midweek than on Friday or Saturday
Consider duration when you travel on a budget
According to scientific research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, the best length of a vacation is 8 days. This is double the average length of vacation taken by Americans today.
The researchers found that travelers feel an uptick in happiness over the first several days of their vacation as the worries and stresses of home melted away. This feeling peaked on the eighth day. After that, the good vibes and wellness benefits of vacation began tapering off (I suspect this has a lot to do with the brain’s reaction to novelty)
An eight-day trip seemed to give vacationers enough time to get adjusted to their surroundings and settled into a new, more relaxed routine. Additionally, travelers reported sleeping better and feeling less stressed. These effects continued even after returning home.
Budget-friendly reasons to consider the trip duration
- Less frequent, longer travel can be more cost-effective than shorter, more regular short trips
- Much of the expense of travel is getting there- especially when flying internationally
- Staying in one place and taking day trips may be more economical than booking multiple stops, depending on the area
- If you are traveling in an area with several bucket list items, consider extending your trip to hit a few places. It will add some expense to the trip, but it will save you more money because you won’t have to pay to come back again.
Travel on a budget: timing & duration
Now that you have learned the secrets to using timing and duration to your advantage, you can line your pocketbook with the rewards of your smart decisions. Or, take what you’ve saved to find some snazzy accommodations or experiences.
Other posts in this series…
How Timing & Duration Impact Your Wallet (you are here)