As vaccinations become more readily available across the country and the light at the end of the tunnel grows stronger and closer, Americans once again find themselves getting bitten by the travel bug and will likely resume spending money on travel.

Getting back to business as usual, or some sense of normalcy, is what we all want but at what cost to our wallet? Whether by plane, train, boat, or automobile, Americans are eager to experience a vacation beyond their backyard. And, with the renewed urge to travel, American’s wallets may feel a familiar strain. According to ValuePenguin, people spend an average of about $581 to go away for about four nights within the U.S. and approximately $3,250 for a nearly two week trip abroad.

The United States brought in $972 billion alone from a typically lucrative domestic travel industry in 2019, according to the most recent statistics from Statista. In 2020, Statista estimates that total dropped to $582 billion; a loss of $390 billion year-over-year. Predictions are that those numbers will increase gradually as Americans become more comfortable in a vaccinated world. Estimates suggest domestic travel spending will increase slowly to about $698 billion in 2021. By 2024, Statista predicts Americans will spend about $968 billion on domestic travel.

How to travel frugally

If you have the travel bug, do not worry! A vacation away does not have to break the bank. Below are some suggestions for frugal travel from the Travel Channel:

  1. Travel during the off-season – Tours, lodging, and even food is often discounted during the travel “off-seasons.” Consider trekking through Europe in the winter or visiting the Caribbean during the summer months (although this is considered hurricane season, so travel with caution!)
  2. Fly on an off-peak day or time – Flights generally cost much less on a Monday or Tuesday than they do on Thursdays or Fridays. Also keep in mind that the second flight of the day is less expensive than the first.
  3. Skip hotels – Sometimes, hotel rates can skyrocket. If that is the case, consider finding lodging through an app such as Airbnb, which can sometimes save you money while also giving you more space and amenities.
  4. Avoid renting a car – Make a point of researching your destination’s public transportation or ridesharing app capabilities ahead of time. Usually, utilizing these options can save you money over renting a car. When possible, opt to walk around your destination. There is no better way to explore a new city – and you will skip paying for transportation all together.
  5. Eat a fancy lunch – If you are planning to have one “fancy” meal a day on your vacation, make sure to have that meal at lunch rather than dinner. Many restaurants have lunch dishes similar or identical to their dinner menus for a lower cost. In Europe, multi-course lunch specials are common and affordable.

While you are daydreaming about your next bucket-list vacation or road trip, why not get a hold of your finances and make it a reality by budgeting for travel expenses. Easily forgettable expenses, like toll booths and parking fees, are easily forgotten, and don’t forget about those monthly bills that never take a vacation.

Create a plan before you embark on your next trip or keep your budget just a click away by checking out a few of the best budgeting apps for travelers according to SMARTERTRAVEL.

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