What are some great budget travel tips for someone who doesn't have much experience?

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Answered by: Caitlin, An Expert in the Travel - How to Be a Budget Traveler Category
Too many people out there are waiting to travel. Waiting for retirement, waiting until they win the lottery, waiting for someone else to plan the trip... Well I'm here to tell you to stop waiting! Your dream vacation (whatever it may be) is not as out of reach as you might think. In fact, it's just a few budget travel tips away.

Believe me: traveling on a budget is not as hard as you think. Here are five great tips for beginners!

Have flexible travel dates

Did you know that Tuesday and Wednesday are the cheapest days to fly? Or that if you're willing to leave at 6 a.m. and put up with a quick layover, you can usually shave $50-100 off your ticket fare? With all the flight comparison tools out there (take your pick between Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Trip Advisor, and about 50 others) to do the research for you, there is absolutely no reason flight prices should limit you! And if you don't like to fly, the same rule is generally true for trains and busses too: Mid-week travel, particularly if it's not during rush hour, will save you money in the long run!

Don't plan to go out for every meal

Food is by far the biggest travel expense I know. Often you're staying in a hotel with no kitchen or opportunity to cook, so you end up eating out for three meals a day (plus snacks!). Whether you're a couple or a whole family of five, that adds up! The first thing I recommend doing when you arrive in a new place is ask for directions to a local grocery store. Pick up quick, easy meals like cereal and milk (most hotel rooms have a small refrigerator), bread, peanut butter and jelly, apples, bananas, granola bars, and trail mix. Voila! Two meals a day taken care of, allowing you to enjoy a nice dinner out without breaking the bank!

Be open to unique accommodations

Forget about the idea that vacation means staying in a hotel, because that's another of the biggest budget-eating travel costs. Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway allow you to rent people's apartments, homes, or spare rooms, often for a fraction of what you'd be spending on a hotel. Plus you end up getting to really see how locals live, which is an experience you definitely wouldn't be getting in a hotel! If you're not planning to visit a city, Airbnb opportunities may be slim, but you can still think outside the box! Consider camping (some campsites are as nice as resorts these days so don't worry if you're not the outdoorsy type). Or try staying at a smaller, locally owned bed and breakfast off the beaten path. These money-saving tricks will actually enhance your trip and give you an experience you never even knew you wanted!

Do your research

No matter where you're going, I bet you can find something free to do. Sometimes it just takes a bit of effort or research. Many museums have a designated free day every week or once a month; tons of cities offer free live music or outdoor movie screenings all summer long; and if you want to get active, hiking or walking around a city is the cheapest, most rewarding activity I can imagine! Spend an hour or so before your trip researching free community events and jot down some notes – trust me, you won't be sorry!

Treat yourself to a great deal

Groupon, LivingSocial, and other similar sites aren't just for finding cheap things to do in your own city; they're also great for finding things to do on vacation and saving a ton of money in the process! Searching for deals in your destination spot could score you a half-price meal at a great restaurant, tickets to a play or a concert, or a fun activity like a bus tour or a boat ride around the city. Again, here's a situation where a little research can pay off in a big way!

These are just a few of the best budget travel tips, but it's more than enough for you to start planning that dream trip! So, really, what are you waiting for?

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