PLUS: Ideas for local Rochester and Buffalo Staycations
When coming up with your own travel budget, there is a key guideline to follow… PLANNING.
You can travel on any budget as long as you have carefully planned for it. The more specific you can be about where you want to travel, the more accurate your planning will be. For example, it will be harder to budget for a “trip to Europe” than for a specific goal such as “Paris in December.” Plan out as many activities as you can so that you have a general idea of what your daily spend will be. Many travel books will give you a range of what you should expect to spend in different areas around the world.
Once you have determined how much it will cost, you can break down this total into monthly savings goals leading up to your vacation. Be sure to build in a 10% - 20% buffer to that number as a contingency and don’t forget to add your monthly savings goal into your regular monthly budget as an expense item (this allows you to get a real idea of whether you can actually afford setting aside this travel budget money each month.)
Travel tips to help you stretch your dollars while traveling:
Save money on airfare. When people say travel is too expensive, they’re often referring to the cost of getting there. These strategies should help you save money on your next flight:
- Start collecting miles and points. Simply sign up for a few major and start collecting travel rewards whenever you fly.
- Do your research. With so many tools to make finding cheap flights easier than ever, if you’re only using one search engine to find flights, you’re making a big mistake. However, when it’s time to purchase your flight, you should book directly through the airline’s website. Airlines typically give preference to their own customers making it less likely you’ll be bumped.
- There are good days and bad days. When you’re looking for low fares, you might only think about your travel dates, but it’s just as important to think about your booking When you book the ticket can greatly affect how much you pay, and new research has shown Fridays are the worst day to buy flights, and Sunday is the best day to book, followed closely by Saturday.
Save money on accommodations. Lodging is the next big travel expense, but there are tons of ways to save on your accommodations.
- Try Airbnb. On sites like Airbnb, you can rent a shared room or a whole house for a fraction of what a hotel room would cost.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. There are always new websites advertising discounted hotel rates; just like with flights, though, call the hotel first to see if they are willing to price match. Booking with the hotel directly gives you a leg up over other customers regarding upgrades or scheduling conflicts.
Save money on food. Everyone needs to eat, but eating out at restaurants can quickly add up and take your vacation over budget. Staying in an Airbnb or hotel with a kitchen makes it easy to save money by cooking your own food. You will still want to enjoy some of the local food so here are a few ways you can save money on food while traveling:
- Look online for deals on meals. You can often find deals for restaurants (and attractions!) on sites like Groupon, Living Social, Yelp, and Restaurant.com.
- Go out early and hit up Happy Hour. Many restaurants have Happy Hour which includes great food choices. This is a great way to try a new city’s cuisine and drinks without spending a ton of dough. It’s also a great way to meet people, as lots of locals enjoy taking advantage of these fun deals.
- Skip the big name places and eat like a local. Sites like Yelp and Chowhound offer a listing of restaurants based on rating and attributes. You should also ask for recommendations from any locals you meet on your trip, they’ll know about the hidden gems you’d otherwise never know about.
Whether you’re on a budget that’s frugal or frivolous, you can travel smarter this year by planning ahead and staying on top of your finances.
Looking for some summer fun in the Rochester, NY area? Here are 10 ideas for activities the whole family to enjoy:
- The Strong, or as it was previously known The Strong Museum of Play, is arguably one of the most exciting children museums in the world. The museum also provides home to research facilities and libraries dedicated to play, but mostly, it is just a lot of fun for the whole family.
- Get your imagination going when you visit Rochester Museum & Science Center as you wander through more than 200 interactive exhibits, exciting shows, and original collections.
- Rochester is the perfect base for exploring the Finger Lakes wine country which produces some of the tastiest wines in the U.S. Three well organized wine trails help visitors to see and taste as much as possible, and they allow them to see up to 35 wineries.
- Spread over 150 acres of valleys and hills, Highland Park is a world-class arboretum and landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.
- The RMSC Strasenburgh Planetarium provides the community of Rochester with unique experiences through their various shows.
- Come see over 90 species of animals that make their home in Seneca Park Zoo’s5-acres in Rochester, New York.
- The Rochester City Public Market is a city-run market that has a large showing of vendors every single week with vendors that offer everything from fresh produce to specialty items to general merchandise.
- Opened in the summer of 1879, Seabreeze is one of the oldest amusement parks and family entertainment centers in upstate and central New York.
- Ontario Beach Park, a 39-acre park that has natural sandy beaches, is located off of the Northwest quadrant of the city on the shores of Lake Ontario.
- The Charlotte – Genesee Lighthouse is the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Ontario, originally constructed in 1822 and recently restored in 2014.
Spending your summer in Buffalo this year? Here’s a list of 10 activities to try:
- The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens are located in South Park in Buffalo, and are dedicated to inspiring and encouraging an appreciation for plant life.
- Located in Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo is home to a diverse collection of wild and exotic animals, as well as over 320 different species of plants.
- Buffalo Touring Company offers visitors historical tours on a Segway, a two-wheeled personal transporter powered by an electric motor that moves in response to the rider’s center of gravity. The tour takes visitors past some of the city’s most famous attractions, buildings, and historic sites such as the Buffalo History Museum, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Hoyt Lake, Delaware Park, and the Buffalo Zoo.
- Located at the corner of Seneca Street and Michigan Avenue, the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum pays homage to the rich transportation history of Western New York.
- The Buffalo Museum of Science is a popular science museum located near the Kensington Expressway dedicated to the exploration of science, technology, and astronomy.
- Take a cruise through history with a fascinating 90-minute tour along the Buffalo River. Buffalo River History Tours cruise the waterways of the river and provide narrated tours on the 48-seater River Queen, which include the Buffalo River City Tour and the Silo City Tour.
- The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park is a museum that pays tribute to the history of the American Navy. Located on the shore of Lake Erie in Buffalo, the museum is home to several decommissioned US Naval vessels, vehicles, and aircraft with ties to the Navy on display.
- Situated in the heart of Buffalo’s waterfront gentrification, Canalside is a public area along the riverfront that boasts a variety of entertainment and activities for the whole family.
- Shakespeare in Delaware Park is a professional theater company that presents free entertainment in the form of high-quality theater productions to a wide range of audiences.
- Tifft Nature Preserve is a 264-acre nature reserve established for the preservation and conservation of the local environment and for the public to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.