All work and no play makes for a dull entrepreneur. If you’ve decided to tear yourself away from the demands of work and turn your focus to leisure, chances are your monetary instincts are still in high gear. Finding holiday destinations on a budget can take as much savvy as finding funding for your start-up (check out “Funding Sources for Your Start-up”), so here’s a few suggestions to spending your money wisely:
If your budget seems meager for what you’re willing to get out of a holiday, take a look at your methods. Often, money is spent frivolously on expenses that can be significantly reduced with a little know-how and changing your expectations of travel. For instance, instead of renting rooms in hotels, which are typically scaled to fleece travelers, try staying at hostels (http://www.hostelworld.com), using Airbnb (http://www.airbnb.com), and Couchsurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.org). Each of those options will change the type of travel you’ll experience while saving significant amounts of money normally spent on hotel lodging. The trade off is that you’ll be around foreign people in a variety of circumstances, getting a richer flavor of local traditions that are sure to make great, memorable experiences.
Also, look into free or cheap activities. Websites like Meetup (http://www.meetup.com) offer friendly communities to explore hobbies and activities. And don’t forget the power of Google’s search engine. A quick search of “free activities [insert your travel destination]” reveals numerous webpages. For instance, here’s twenty-nine free activities to experience in Berlin. (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/germany/berlin/travel-tips-and-articles/77814)
Many websites, often run by travel-enthusiast entrepreneurs, offer tips for the unseasoned traveler by showing money-saving techniques that are often overlooked. This website features a comprehensive list of some of the finer budget travel blogs to peruse. (https://www.flipkey.com/blog/2014/09/25/top-25-budget-travel-bloggers-to-follow-in-2014/). Who knows, you might even quit your day job and start running a travel blog yourself!
Groupon & Deal Sites
Using the online coupon site Groupon (www.groupon.com/occasion/travel) or other similar site is an excellent way to save money on your holiday. Groupon offers discounted rates on nearly all facets of travel, from the cost of airfare and lodging, to to all-inclusive hotel packages in nearly every destination. Groupon’s greatest hidden feature, however, is that it can be used to brainstorm your next destination. Building a holiday around a deeply-discounted package deal ensures that you’ll save money and mental effort not going over-budget. Who doesn’t love a great deal?
If you’re hoping to stay within your budget, try to avoid vacation hotspots during their peak seasons and look into seeing when their off-season begins. You’d be surprised to see what savings can be had while avoiding the crowds and not sacrificing the quality. The hidden benefit is that you can avoid all the markups that prey on desperate and naive tourists, experiencing a bit more of the genuine culture of the country that’s normally obscured by merchants, opportunists, and scammers looking to make a quick buck. Below is a list of websites that offer their opinions on the best off-season travel destinations:
The Travel Channel: Best Off-Season Summer Destinations (http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/budget/articles/best-off-season-summer-destinations)
Brad’s Deals: 29 Awesome Vacation Spots That Are Cheaper Off-Season (http://www.bradsdeals.com/blog/29-awesome-vacation-spots-that-are-cheaper-off-season)
Lonely Planet: Ten of the World’s Best Off-Season Adventures (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-tips-and-articles/ten-of-the-worlds-best-off-season-adventures)
If you’re looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, take a look into countries where the exchange rate favors your currency. While currencies fluctuate daily (http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/), you can make a ballpark estimate of how far your budget will go.
Cost of living is also a major factor in picking a holiday destination on a budget. Refer to Numbeo (http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries.jsp), a website that can give you estimates between your currency’s buying power on nearly anything, from a bottle of wine to the average cost of a 1-bedroom apartment.
For instance, here is a comparison of Australia’s cost of living to Poland’s. (http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_countries_result.jsp?country1=Australia&country2=Poland)
Bear in mind that most vacationers tend to live more lavishly than those who live non-vacationing lives in the destination country, but this will give you an idea of the cost—and quality—of short and extended stays.
Run Your Vacation Like Your Business: Workcation
If you’re looking to save money in the long-term, look to scheduling a working vacation, a “workcation.” Most entrepreneur’s find it hard to tear themselves away from their businesses, even for a day of relaxation, so convincing yourself that a few beach-side pina coladas after a day of scouting out new markets in a foreign country is well-deserved should be easier to swallow.
Some businesses utilize outsourcing for their staff and/or workload, so if you can, consider visiting the countries you normally do business with. You may be able to negotiate cheaper rates, adding a human rapport to the money that you send, and deepen your understanding of how to further facilitate outsourcing into your business.