How does the old saying go? If traveling were free, you’d never see me again? No matter where you go, traveling’s a beautiful alternative to your normal life. Less responsibility. More fun. Learning as part of an adventure rather than to ace the exam that determines your future. It’s the ideal lifestyle, but its effects on your wallet can be less than ideal, especially if you’ve just rented your first apartment. Thankfully, a little planning can go a long way in making your trip as stress-free — and affordable! — as possible. So check out these ways to plan an affordable vacation before break out your wallet!

Text by Anna Khan

Ask not only where…

Did you know that flying to Vancouver is cheaper than flying to New York or LA? Thailand and Greece are also cheap, luxurious destinations. Be flexible with where you’re going, if you can. Then, you’ll find yourself in spots that’ll make all of Instagram jealous — without breaking the bank!

…but when?

Even if you do choose an expensive place, go in the off season. You’ll save a ton of cash. Destinations in Europe tend to be cheaper in the summer. On the other hand, Hawaii is cheaper in the winter. Getting off work in the middle of February might be difficult, but travelers save a lot if it’s not peak season.

vacation items unpacked.

Deals, deals, deals, as far as the eye can see!

Book your flight, hotel, and even the ride to your hotel ahead of time. You’ll save money. Look to Groupon and Travelocity to find the cheapest option within your budget.

Still need a cheaper place to stay?

We’ve got one word for you: Airbnb. There’s a reason it gets more and more popular by the day. An apartment might be cheaper than some fancy hotel room. Hostels might be another option to consider. If you don’t like the idea of sharing a room with strangers, remember: the ideal vacation will have you out of your room most of the time.

Do as the locals do.

No tourist’s going to want to miss the Eiffel Tower on their first trip to Paris. But if you can avoid touristy places, do. Local spots aren’t nearly as overpriced. Try asking locals for advice instead of your concierge. Bonus if you can at least stumble through their language. If they see that you’re trying, they’ll point you in the right direction.