7 great tools for planning the perfect budget vacation
Working with a tight budget this year? Don't cancel those vacation plans just yet. There's still time to snag great deals on airline tickets, hotel stays and vacation packages at coveted destinations around the globe, and you can take advantage of a handful of online tools to map out your journey.
[See: 11 Ways to Save Time and Money.]
Whether you're dreaming about a summer getaway or already making plans for the winter holiday season, make use of any of these seven tools to plan that perfect vacation on a budget:
1. Create a travel budget with the Travel Budget Calculator from IndependentTraveler.com. If you're not so good at forecasting costs of a trip, make use of this online calculator to determine your estimated trip expenses. The calculator includes fields for checked baggage fees, gas, tips and travel insurance – some of the many costs of a trip that are easy to overlook. You can just tally everything up and add your own fields to get a fairly accurate idea of how much that upcoming vacation is really going to cost you.
2. Research travel costs with BudgetYourTrip.com. Curious about the average cost of hotels in London? Food costs in Mexico? Or maybe you need an idea of average entertainment costs in Australia. Whatever the case may be, you can see the average daily cost in local currency or U.S. dollars with the online tools available at BudgetYourTrip.com. The site also provides sample costs of typical traveler expenses, making it that much easier to create a realistic budget before you set foot on foreign land.
3. Plan a Disney vacation with the Disney Vacation Account Budget Estimator. Whether you're planning to visit Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or a trip on a Disney Cruise Line, pull together all your trip costs using the Account Budget Estimator tool on the Disney Vacation Account website. Use this handy online tool to price out the cost of Disney resort hotels, theme park tickets, air transportation, and food and dining costs in one place based on your destination.
4. Track expenses with the Trail Wallet - Travel Budget & Expense Tracker app. Available on iTunes, this app makes it easy to track your spending while traveling by organizing all of your expenses and setting you up with a daily budget. You can keep track of costs as you go and review a detailed summary as the trip progresses. If you have a hard time tracking expenses when you're away from home, get comfortable using this app so you can see exactly where your money is going every step of the way, and in the local currency. You can also use the app daily to save for an upcoming vacation.
5. Check flight prices with the Skyscanner app. If you're still waiting for a better deal on those airline tickets, make sure you're checking Skyscanner to see the latest prices on coveted flights without jumping between third-party booking engines. Searching is free and you can even get a glimpse of cheaper days to travel during the month. Create an account and you can access search results from your tablet or desktop computer as you please.
6. Track down cheap vacation rentals with the Airbnb app. Whether you're planning a backpacking getaway or want to rent an apartment or vacation rental during your upcoming trip, make use of this app for up-to-date listings and details about available properties across the globe. You can make a wish list of properties that have caught your eye and send ideas to friends and family with a few screen taps. Airbnb features affordable alternatives to hotels, resorts and bed-and-breakfasts, and is well-suited for travelers planning a last-minute vacation or an extended stay.
7. Secure package deals with the Kayak app. If you prefer to book a package from leading travel sites, make sure you really are getting the best deal of the day with this app. You can search and compare packages that include a flight, hotel stay and car rental from major booking sites and also create an itinerary to review later. Kayak's price alert feature will help you nail down the best price on that ideal flight as you go through the planning process.
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World ReportRelated: 19 cheapest vacation destinations