Featured Image Traveling can be costly. From airfare, to car, to hotel, it can add up quickly and getting out of town can feel cost prohibitive. Outside of saving, here are some tips to make the trip a little more budget-friendly. Research your destination. You know what they say, time is money! Spend time planning ahead so that you don’t have to spend money once the trip starts. Most vacation destinations have numerous free or low-cost attractions. You may be able to find parks, free museums, local hotspots, free historical attractions, and much more by spending a few hours online. Look for festivals or special events that have free entry while you’re there, as well. Prepare meals and snacks ahead of time. Food can be a huge financial commitment when on vacation. To help, try to book an accommodation that has a kitchenette so that you are able to avoid eating out as often. Similarly, bring snacks when you go out so that you don’t get hungry and break the budget on restaurant food. You may also be able to save some money by booking a hotel that includes a free breakfast. Compare before you buy. There are many sites that offer rental cars, hotels, and airfare comparisons, and this is a good place to start. Some airlines, Southwest for example, only allow sales through their own website. Before making a purchase, look on a few different sites to guarantee that you are getting the best deal. My personal favorite is www.kayak.com. Plan the time off first, then the location. If you’re flexible about the destination, it can really benefit the budget to plan the time first and then look into the most affordable destinations for that time frame. For example, Groupon will have discounted vacation deals during certain time frames. If you schedule the time off first, you can look for the best deals for destinations as your time off approaches. This also allows you to save until your upcoming vacation. Look for all-inclusive deals. Although these resorts or cruises may come with a hefty price tag, depending on what’s included you may end up saving money. This is especially true when the resort is located in an area you can get to cheaply and easily. If you are travelling with kids, look at what options they provide for children’s entertainment as well, and you may find that between the food, beverage, and entertainment costs you come out ahead. It can be risky, but look into credit card promotions for airfare. It’s not a great idea to open and close credit cards. It can have a negative impact on your credit. However, from a budget perspective, some airlines are willing to offer significant discounts for opening a credit card. For example, on a recent trip across country, I was able to get a $200 statement credit when I booked my airfare with the airline credit card. This cut my airfare cost by two-thirds. The card ended up having a lot of travel perks and points, and because I was able to pay the balance in full I wasn’t charged any interest. Just watch out for annual fees! Stephanie R. Stephanie is a Lending Advisor at Virginia Credit Union. The middle child of a 7-person family, Stephanie enjoys helping others and bringing people together. Other stories by Stephanie R.