Travelling on a budget can help you go more places, but make sure that this stays within budget when at a new place, city or country and with so many unknowns thrown in. The trick is to plan as much as possible ahead of the actual travel, which can help with navigating through regular expenses like dining and accommodation, as well as emergencies without breaking the bank.

It also can help know if spur-of-the-moment splurging is affordable or not. To be sure that the next trip is within budget, think of the following points.

* Monitor flights and book early

Many travel experts will tell you about the best times to book flights, like the conventional wisdom of booking on a Tuesday morning. But regardless of this potential saving, booking early gives more options and a variety of time possibilities. This is a win-win, because then it allows for picking a cheaper flight and avoid spending extra hotel nights.

In addition, booking early can help get discounts when these are bundled with the flight and hotel stay. Again this flexibility is more likely to be there with the luxury of time. Often, when waiting until the last minute, there may be access to similar offers but it will be hard to find a choice of hotel and then be able to match with it your favoured flights.

* Know your insurance

Accidents happen, and they are more likely to happen when travelling because of a change of routine, weather, food, etc. Be prepared with adequate travel insurance, and check if the existing health insurance covers any need when overseas. Know what is under the coverage, because an accident that lands one in an emergency room while travelling can be extremely expensive to cover.

In addition, find out if the auto insurance covers rental cars, especially abroad. If not, check out if any of the credit cards covers rental cars and find out what is needed to get this coverage. In many cases, you just need to pay the full amount of the rental on this card and reject additional insurance offers by the car rental company. Find out in advance and be ready with the card and any other document. Again, if driving in an unfamiliar city or country, there are more chances of having an accident.


* Pack and eat right

Take sufficient clothes, medication, accessories and anything else you might need while travelling. Anyone who has shopped at a hotel or a museum’s gift shop knows that you are likely to pay a lot shopping there for almost anything from a toothpaste to a sweatshirt. Anticipate what may be needed and pack smart. Your money is better saved or spent on souvenirs or experiences rather than essentials that were forgotten.

Similarly, pack snacks that can help you make it to various restaurants mapped out for the trip. Protein or granola bars, or other similar easy-to-pack snacks, as well as refillable water bottles can help save on buying over-priced snacks and water at the various destinations. Know in advance where the meals will be had and always have a back-up plan. If you are in a place where you can stop by a grocery store to buy food, make this a priority for some meals to reduce costs.


* Have an “extra” budget

One can’t anticipate or script every single move of a trip — or you risk taking the fun out of it. For extra fun, have a set daily budget. Share this budget with the fellow travellers even if they are children.

Being transparent about how much you are willing to spend extra every day should keep priorities straight and help stay within your budget. Make that extra budget realistic.

Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.