Everyone needs a break and a chance to get away, but affording a vacation on a student budget can be difficult. However, with a little planning and a little money you can go a long way this summer.
Knowing how and where to look is half the battle. There are so many sites that offer discounted hotels, rental cars, and flights. Also, opting for a package deal can save you lots of money and time. Sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, KAYAK, and Orbitz are all useful tools. You can enter the city where you would like to travel to and the dates, and it searches flights and hotels that you can book right on the site. You can also use filters on the site to adjust your options to fit your budget and preferences. Although these sites are great resources and usually find good deals, you always have to compare and shop around to ensure that this is the lowest price you can get. Sometimes if you go to the hotel’s website they have special offers or lower rates. You can also do research to see what time is the best time to travel to that location. Often prices are lower in different months.
Don’t be afraid to call the hotel and discuss traveling to that area. Often you can get discounts or tourism packages through the hotel. If you book ahead of time the hotel may also offer a discount on your stay. Also, if you call ahead to make a special request, like a room on the top floor or with a view, the hotel is often willing to do that for you.
Websites like Living Social and Groupon are another great resource in planning a trip. They have lots of great getaways that have been preapproved to ensure a good time. You can find relaxing trips or thrilling adventures all in a package deal. Often these deals are all-inclusive and can include the hotel, meals, activities, equipment rentals, tourism packages, drinks, and even the airfare. Make sure to read the fine print which includes the dates you must go by, taxes or other fees, and when the promotional deal expires. If you buy the package and something goes wrong, the sites offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
Planning your trip in advance can not only save you money but also give you the opportunity to get as much from your trip as you can. If you are driving to your destination don’t forget to map out other attractions that might be fun to stop at along the way. There are websites like RoadTrip America that allow you to enter your beginning and ending destination and it finds attractions along your route. Take into consideration gas prices and food and drinks when calculating your budget as well.
If you plan on flying there are websites like Seat Guru that allow you to look at airline seat maps that show you the best seats on your flight and have customer reviews. They provide details on everything from the amount of leg room to misaligned windows. They also offer flight information, shopping, pictures, advice and comparison charts.
Don’t forget your phone! There are tons of awesome travel apps that make planning and taking a trip less stressful. TripIt syncs with your email to build an itinerary using confirmation numbers that are sent to you. Everything from flight, hotel, and restaurant reservation confirmation numbers are saved in your personal itinerary and are automatically updated. Photosynth and Instagram are great for taking and sharing photos. Photosynth allows you to take 360 degree panoramic pictures and send them to your friends on the go. Instagram is a must have! I absolutely love this app for photographing not only your travels but your life and keeping in touch with your friends and family. You can apply filters, crop, rotate, and add blur effects and frames to your pictures before sharing them with all of your friends. You can also add captions and hash tags to your photos to see who else has been there and what their photos look like. Postagram is a fun app that allows you to actually take your own post card! Simply take a picture and postagram prints it out for you and mails it to anyone in the world for only 99 cents. It will sure beat those cheesy postcards and add a personal touch. If you are into outdoor activities then Trailhead is a wonderful app that uses your location to find hiking, biking, and walking trails around you. It can also track your distance, elevation, and speed. Or if you decide to take a stroll around an unfamiliar town EveryTrail is a must have. It is a GPS app that provides you with an easy map as you walk and also shows you street names, a compass, audio guides, POI’s, and your average speed. Many people use this app to track their journeys and share places worth seeing with others. UrbanSpoon and OpenTable are wonderful apps if you are looking for a meal around you. They provide reviews, pictures, directions, prices and instant reservations. If you are planning a trip abroad, Word Lens is an absolute must have app. Using your video camera this app translates printed words into your language in real time. No more walking into the wrong bathroom or struggling to order anymore! The best part is all of these apps are free.
Traveling is easier than you think. You can save money by taking a road trip with your friends and splitting the cost, or choosing to go camping at a national park instead of paying for a hotel. By using apps and websites to ensure you get the best price, and planning ahead, you will be able to make your travel plans a reality. So go ahead, take a much deserved break from work and school.