Where To Skimp Or Where To Splurge In Your Travel Vacation

Traveling is expensive, so between the exchange rate and foreign transaction fees, you want your money to stretch as far as possible without sacrificing the quality of your trip. The first step: Figure out your budget and then rank what’s important to you, says Robert Miller, president of Travel Advocates, a Hoboken, New Jersey-based travel agency. While it’s up to you to determine your personal priorities, Miller says travel agents do have some secret budgeting strategies.

Skimp: Luggage

A checked bag — or two — can cost up to $200, which really cuts into a travel budget. Opt for a capsule wardrobe — filled with pieces that are easy to mix and match — and pack only the bare necessities. You can find a laundromat or buy almost anything you need at your destination. Budget traveling without a checked bag also means you have more time to explore instead of waiting for lost luggage! Make sure you have enough room to bring home souvenirs, though.

Splurge: Luxury Amenities

This is where personal preference comes into play, says Miller. “I’m a hotel snob,” he says. “I’ll pay for that instead of first-class airfare any day.” Like Miller, some travelers might want to stay in a luxurious hotel with amenities that might be out of their price point at home, like an in-room Jacuzzi and a wrap-around balcony. Others might be happy crashing in a hostel, which can run as little as $5 a night, and spend their money on a business class round-trip ticket. Nervous flyers, take note: Extra legroom or amenities in the air might make your travel on the ground run more smoothly.

Skimp: Hostels

If hotels seem cliché — or are just financially out of reach — travelers should opt for hostels. The prices can range from a few bucks a night to $50 for a private suite, depending on the destination. Hostels outside of the United States tend to be nicer, but websites like HostelWorld can help travelers with planning and booking. To really cut down on costs, some backpackers might opt to camp on the hostel grounds rather than reserve a cot or bed inside.

Splurge: Food

Splurging on food doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. Travelers should make an effort to taste the local cuisine, like Cape Malay food in South Africa, or delicacies like a guinea pig in Peru. If you’re traveling to a destination where you might not trust the food, like in China, travelers should splurge on restaurants that cater to tourists, says Miller. While those restaurants are likely to be more expensive, they may give you peace of mind — and a calmer stomach. Travelers should aim for an immersive dining experience, a splurge meal with a great view, and a meal that will be a good talking point when you return from your trip, says Miller.

Splurge: Bikes

Bike-sharing programs can be found in most major cities, and it’s a great way to get exercise on vacation. Most services offer a flat rate for the day, which will allow you to see as many places as possible. A 24-hour bike rental in Nashville, Tennessee, will cost $5, while a bike in San Francisco will cost $9; any trips longer than 30 minutes will cost extra, so be wary of the time to stay on budget.