Millions of Americans look forward to spring’s week-long escape from the real world for a chance to enjoy some fun in the sun, or perhaps skiing in the mountains with family and friends. Whatever type of trip you choose, finding the best deals on flights and accommodations are key to saving money. However, airfare and hotel aren’t the only travel costs you need to worry about; small, unplanned purchases made on a daily basis can snowball quickly and bust your budget.
Here are the top six budget busters and how to avoid them while traveling this spring.
1. Mobile data.
Travelers rely on mobile data to find directions, request Uber drivers, post pictures, read restaurant reviews and more. To avoid pricey data-overage fees, turn off pop-up notifications and use the Free Wi-Fi Finder app to track down local hotspots. Otherwise, turn on your phone’s Wi-Fi locator to find a free Internet connection wherever you are and take this time to post pictures and reply to emails. For directions, download the map before heading out from the hotel using the complimentary connection. Lastly, track data usage with free apps like Onavo Count and 3GWatchdog.
2. Restaurant meals.
Dining out at new restaurants is one of the best parts of traveling, but there’s no need to eat out three meals a day. Many hotels and hostels offer some sort of free breakfast, typically consisting of fruit, cereal and pastries, which is plenty to start your day. Sandwiches are an easy meal to prepare in-room, which you can then pack as lunch for a day exploring the city. When looking for a spot to eat, use apps like Meal Ticket to track down coupons for nearby restaurants and search for daily dining deals via Groupon Now.
3. Entertainment and activities.
When you’re traveling, it’s natural to want to see and do as much as possible so you can make the most of the trip. However, an action packed schedule comes with a high cost. Take the time to review entertainment and activity options and identify those that are most important to you and your family. There are plenty of free things you can do on your trip, too, like a day at the beach, viewing art galleries or simply exploring city streets. You can even skip the pricey guided tours and take a self-guided walking tour for free. Print city guides from resources like citywalkingguide.com or download a walking tour guide on your mobile device using apps like Rick Steves Europe Travel and City Maps & Walks.
4. Drinks and snacks.
There is something about vacation that calls for daily midday confections, twice-a-day lattes and pre- and post-dinner drinks. Limit the excess you spend on drinks and snacks by packing fruit or granola bars and a refillable water bottle to stay fueled and hydrated during a long day of exploring. When it’s time to sit back and relax with a favorite cocktail, enjoy a glass of wine in your room before heading out for the night, or ask the concierge about local happy hours to find deals on drinks. Limit your Starbucks stops by purchasing a bag of ground beans to brew gourmet coffee in your room.
Inexpensive souvenirs seem harmless, but travelers who pick up several items over the duration of their trip will find a big hole in their budget when they arrive home. Don’t waste your money on tchotchkes; the trip itself is a memory, so take plenty of pictures and create a digital photo book that you and your family will enjoy scanning through for years to come. Use the Keepsayk app to organize pictures and create a photo book, or use deal sites like CouponSherpa.com to find coupon codes from photo book makers like Snapfish, which is currently offering 66% off hardcover books.
While driving to your destination is a great way to reduce travel costs, gas can still eat into your budget, especially if you continue to rely on your car throughout the duration of your trip. There are a few ways to reduce your fuel costs, including using the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas nearby; paying with cash to avoid the extra 10-cents for credit card charges; and using your warehouse club membership to save up to 30 cents per gallon at their fuel pumps.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Check out Andrea’s demo reel or visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com for more information about booking an interview or requesting an original written article. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.