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Save money while traveling

Date posted:  4/7/15 08:45:00 AM Booking a flight on Sunday is considered the best time to secure affordable airfare.

Most people yearn for vacations and time away from home, but the financial strain of traveling can be a major roadblock.

Don't fret. There are several ways to make traveling cheaper. 

George Papadopoulos, a financial planner and travel blogger, told U.S. News & World Report that being open and friendly with locals - people you meet in the street or the staff at a restaurant or hotel - can go a long way. Papadopoulos said he often asks locals the top three things to do or see while visiting whichever city he happens to be in. At one point during a vacation in Quebec, a local told him he could see Cirque de Soleil, which is usually very expensive, free of charge.

"There was an outdoor show running in the summer, and we just happened to be there in the very final show, it was spectacular!" Papadopoulos said

Even if you aren't going to catch a renowned show for free, it's never a bad idea to ask around. Locals can point you to sight seeing spots, nightlife or cheap dive bars - whatever suits your fancy.

If you're not the talkative type, Dan Saltzstein, a travel editor with The New York Times, recommended travelers search the Web for free things to do at their destinations before departing.

"It works really well for major destinations," Saltzstein said. "You get a quick sense of free activities in a city. My wife and I were going to Glasgow on our way somewhere and did this terrific free tour of a very famous art school given by a student. I don't know if I would have come across that in a guidebook or by asking the concierge at my hotel."

Going out or eating in?
Papadopoulos and his family also prefer to buy groceries rather than eat out at restaurants and often decide to make food and eat in a public park. This can be a huge money saver for large families.

"We have done this in many cities, and we especially loved it in Paris, Madrid and Buenos Aires, as we love mixing in with the locals," Papadopoulos said.

If you prefer to have someone wait on you, download a restaurant app such as Yelp, which will show you how each restaurant is viewed and give you an idea of how much the meal will cost. If you're going on a vacation with a large party, it's usually a better idea to stay in a villa or condo than rent separate hotels. Grocery shopping and cooking in the villa or condo can be especially frugal in these situations.

Stick with a travel budget
Carolyn Sandgren, president of Elite Travel, told Southeast Missourian travelers should try to craft a travel budget before they leave home.

"Have a realistic budget and communicate your budget, and you can almost always save money, because you're not going to go over your budget," she said.

Creating a travel budget might also impact your decision on which places to hit. Once you know how much you can afford, you might be swayed to shorten or lengthen your trip depending on the budget.

The best time to book a flight
It can be hard to decipher the best time to fly, but travel agent Pauline Frommer​, said the lowest fares usually go to those who book on a particular day of the week.

In the past, booking on Tuesday has been the best option, but Frommer said Sunday is now the premier time to book affordable airfare. She explained people who book 57 days before for a domestic flight or 171 days before an international flight usually get the best deals.