Do you dream of a well-deserved summer vacation but worry it won’t fit your budget? Good news: you don’t have to be a travel expert or spend all your savings to make the most of your next summer getaway.
While traveling is good for your mental health, you want to ensure it won’t cause stress when paying credit card bills. So, whether you are looking for an adventurous trip, a romantic escape with your significant other, or quality family time — we have gathered seven travel tips to save money without compromising fun.
1. Be flexible with travel dates and destination
It works wonders for your wallet when you become more flexible with travel dates and destinations. Nothing says “sulit” more than getting a good deal on airfare and accommodations. Here’s what you can do:
- Off-peak seasons usually have lower rates in terms of travel expenses and accommodations. Remember that fewer tourists mean less stressful lines and reservations at your target destinations. If you’re traveling with seniors, you’d be better off with less crowded places.
- Find cheaper flights when flying during weekdays, specifically Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Flights on these days are generally less expensive than on weekends.
- Use Skyscanner or Google Flights to find the best deals. Compare various airlines and flights within your price range.
- Take advantage of last-minute package deals and discount vouchers from websites like Klook and Metrodeal. These platforms frequently offer special promos and discounts on travel deals, including flights, hotels, attraction tickets, and entrance fees.
The world is your playground. With a budget-savvy mindset, you can turn your wanderlust into a reality — all while being kind to your finances.
2. Travel with a group
You can book hotels or apartments (via Airbnb) in bulk to reduce the total cost per person since you will split it between your group.
Here are the perks of doing so:
- Save more on other costs like transportation, tours, and meals.
- Get better rates when you book by volume. Many airlines offer discounts for purchasing round-trip tickets for large groups of travelers.
- Pay by group rates on attractions such as theme parks and museums that might otherwise have been too expensive for a single person or couple to afford.
Beyond just saving money, traveling in groups also provides an opportunity to learn from other experienced budget travelers who may have already gotten over the learning curve of mastering their finances while on vacation.
3. Leverage credit card rewards and promotions
A credit card can be more than just a plastic payment tool—you can turn this rectangular financial companion into a magical travel discount machine. You read that right, and it’s all about strategically leveraging your credit card rewards and promotions.
Most credit card issuers offer reward points for every purchase made using the card. These points can then be converted into discounts and air miles points for travel expenses such as flights and hotel bookings. Here are some perks you’ll enjoy:
- For example, spend enough using your card, and you might enjoy a free round-trip ticket from participating airlines.
- Major airlines like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia have partnerships with credit card issuers, allowing you to use your accumulated points as payment for your flights.
- Luxury hotels such as Marco Polo, Radisson Blu, and Marriott have partnered with credit card companies to offer booking discounts or complimentary room upgrades for cardholders.
- Get free travel insurance. You usually automatically become eligible for this benefit when you book a flight using your credit card. You don’t need to shell out extra cash if your baggage gets lost, your flight gets delayed, or any other unfortunate situation occurs.
- Another bonus? Lounge access! Some credit card companies offer complimentary access to airport lounges where you can enjoy comfortable seating, snacks, and Wi-Fi while waiting for your flight.
Who wouldn’t want a cozy staycation after months of hard work?
Just remember to keep your travel goals in check and pay your bills on time—otherwise, you may pay more in interest and fees than the discounts you get from your rewards.
4. Choose accommodations wisely
When planning your dream vacation or just a quick weekend getaway, choosing suitable accommodation can significantly impact your overall experience and budget.
Here are some tips on selecting the best lodgings for your next trip:
- With various platforms like Agoda, Booking.com, and Traveloka, you can easily compare the prices and amenities of hotels and hostels.
- Explore alternative lodging options, such as Airbnb or Vrbo (formerly HomeAway), where you can rent private homes, condos, or even just a room, often at more competitive prices than a hotel.
- Staying in areas just off the beaten path often has cheaper accommodations and allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture. Plus, it’s usually less crowded and chaotic than tourist hotspots.
- Staying away from the popular tourist areas means you’ll have a chance to explore hidden gems and local haunts that may not be listed in your Lonely Planet guide.
- Make sure to factor in transportation costs — you don’t want to spend your entire vacation budget on cabs or rideshares to get to central spots.
- Subscribe to a hotel or booking site newsletters, follow them on social media, or do a quick Google search for promo codes. Most establishments offer deals during their off-peak season or for more extended stays, so it’s worth being flexible with your travel dates.
Don’t take your accommodation selection lightly. It can significantly impact your travel experience and budget.
5. Eat like a local
One of the most exciting parts of traveling is immersing yourself in the local culture. What better way to do so than by indulging in delectable local cuisine?
Not only will you satisfy your taste buds with mouthwatering food, but eating like a local can also help you save a pretty penny.
Here are some tips for finding the best food and restaurants:
- Use social media. Many smaller establishments and budding food entrepreneurs are harnessing the power of social media to advertise their food offerings.
- Follow local food bloggers of the city or country you plan to visit. Many of them focus on promoting local cuisine, and their blog posts often include tips on where to find the tastiest dishes at pocket-friendly prices.
- Seek local recommendations. Who better to guide you on your culinary adventure than those who consume these dishes daily?
Resisting the allure of a restaurant with an enticing menu and an English-speaking staff might be challenging, especially after a long day of walking and exploring the city.
Remember that these establishments often charge a premium for the convenience they offer tourists.
6. Make the most of public transportation
We Filipinos love our jeepneys, tricycles, and even the infamous habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) for everyday commutes. So, when traveling abroad, it’s only natural for us to look at the local transportation scene, weigh the costs, and find the best deal.
- Look for free city bus trips that take you from one place to another.
- If you use the subway or metro, create an itinerary that matches the train’s route so you can explore the city from one stop to the next.
- Local transportation passes are a godsend for your wallet if you plan to roam around the city. These passes typically offer unlimited rides on public transport for a fixed period, saving you from pesky per-ride fees.
- Taxis and ride-sharing services may offer door-to-door convenience, but they come at a higher cost. Traveling during peak hours may mean exorbitant surge pricing, leaving your wallet empty. So, look for cheaper options like train rides.
- Don’t shy away from local transportation tourist passes, either. These bundles could include unlimited rides, museum admissions, and even guided tours.
Regarding convenience and comfort, taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab tend to overshadow public transportation.
But don’t be blinded by luxury – there’s money at stake, especially for longer rides or heavy traffic.
For an added layer of preparedness, research your destination’s public transport system before your trip. Look up the types of transportation available, ticket prices, hours of operation, and any relevant news or updates.
7. Seek out free and affordable activities
Go beyond the usual tourist spots and embrace the hidden gems locals rave about. Social media is also an excellent platform for discovering local and unique experiences. Join community groups and forums to ask for recommendations.
Here’s how to make your trip more fun
- Check out the local government tourism websites. They often post updates on free or inexpensive events happening in the area, such as walking tours, public parks, or local festivals.
- Being spontaneous can be fun, but when it comes to your finances, better to be safe than sorry. A well-structured itinerary will help you avoid overspending and maximize your time.
- Having a daily schedule of your activities will help you determine how much money you should allot for each day of your trip. This way, you can stick to a budget, prioritize the must-visit places or events, and avoid costly last-minute changes.
Affordable must-try activities in popular Philippine destinations
Now to spice things up, here’s a brief list of affordable and exciting activities that you shouldn’t miss when in these popular Philippine destinations:
- Metro Manila: Visit the uber-famous “Art in Island” museum in Cubao or explore Intramuros’s scenic and historic walled city. You can opt for a walking tour, bike around, or take a ride on a kalesa.
- Baguio City: Take a leisurely walk around Burnham Park, or be one with nature at the Botanical Garden. You can also visit the Bencab Museum for a dose of Filipino art without stretching your wallet.
- Cebu: The Queen City of the South makes for a great city tour by visiting the symbolic Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. But if you’re more of a beach bum, a short drive to Moalboal rewards you with incredible marine life and white-sand beaches.
- Boracay: Aside from lounging by the white beach, try out local must-eat island cuisines, such as the famous Chori Burger or Jonah’s Fruit Shakes, without spending a fortune.
- Palawan: Discover wildlife conservation by visiting the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center in Puerto Princesa or be awe-inspired by the local arts and crafts at the Kamarikutan Kape at Galeri.
Enjoy a fulfilling Philippines travel experience on a budget through proper research and planning. So for your next adventure, remember to seek accessible and affordable activities.
Final thoughts — travel as long as the trip is budget-friendly
Planning for a summer vacation can be stressful, especially when trying to fit it within your budget. But with the right travel tips and hacks, you can ensure your summer holiday is memorable and pocket-friendly.
From taking advantage of credit card rewards to opting for a package tour or all-inclusive rates to even getting discounts through online booking platforms – there are plenty of ways to save money on travel expenses.
So, to maximize your summer vacation savings this year, try out some of these helpful tips.
Feel free to share your travel tips in the comments below.