How To Travel Europe On A Budget


There’s no need to blow your savings on an epic trip.

Hi! My name is Jemima, and I’m all about traveling on a budget.

Looking for some budget travel inspiration? Here are all the best tips and tricks I’ve picked up that allow me to travel well without spending all my savings.

1.

Take advantage of free walking tours.


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Every single time I arrived in a new city, I took a free walking tour. Just do a quick Google search to find one in the city you’re visiting. I’ve found that these free tours are the best way to get oriented in a new place, learn about the culture and history, and get some local tips on where to eat, drink, and sightsee. Just remember to tip your guide at the end!

2.

Consider doing a work exchange for free lodging.


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If you’re traveling alone and have a good amount of time, you could consider spending a month or two working in a fixed place. On websites like WorkawayHostel Jobs, and plenty of others, you can find short-term jobs where you’ll work a couple of hours per day in return for free accommodations. I spent a month working at a bed and breakfast in Florence where I stayed for free in exchange for my work, and it was an amazing way to really get to know the city.

3.

Keep a running list of places you want to go in order to make last-minute planning easier.

4.

Use buses wherever and whenever you can.


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Trains are convenient, but they can also be pricey. A lot of people opt for the Eurail pass when traveling long-term in Europe, but for the sake of your wallet, consider traveling by bus instead. I personally really liked traveling via Flix Bus.

Sure, the bus takes longer and often the stations are less conveniently located, but when you’re traveling for a long time and you’re not in a rush, the savings make it worthwhile. 

5.

Plan a little, but keep your schedule flexible.

6.

Research which countries are most affordable for traveling.

7.

For even more savings, go off the beaten path.


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Even while visiting these more affordable countries, capital cities can be relatively pricey because most tourists flock there. If you want to save cash, it’s worth researching other destinations beyond the big cities. I do a lot of googling, watching YouTube, and scrolling through Reddit to find recommendations for hidden gems and destinations that aren’t so mainstream.

8.

Stay somewhere with free breakfast…or better yet, a kitchen.


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Free breakfast is the backbone of any budget travel trip. Yes, I am that person who will sneakily make a sandwich at breakfast time and keep it in my bag until lunch. There’s no shame.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a food lover. And for me, the best part of traveling is trying new foods and cuisines. But eating out every single lunch and dinner can get very expensive very quickly. On a two-week trip, I’ll blow most of my budget on meals. But when I’m traveling for a longer period of time, I make sure I’m staying somewhere with a kitchen so that I can make my own food a few times a week. 

9.

Book directly and avoid third-party booking sites for the best rates.


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By all means, use Agoda or Hostelworld to find the best place to stay, but whenever possible try to book your accommodation and transport directly with the hostel, hotel, or B&B. You’ll avoid random fees, and if something goes wrong with your booking, it’s always a lot easier to resolve when there’s no third-party involved. 

10.

Take advantage of Skyscanner’s everywhere search feature.


Skyscanner

If you’re flexible, you can travel wherever the deals take you. I love Skyscanner’s everywhere search feature because you can plug in dates and find the cheapest flight available without having a specific destination in mind. That’s how I ended up taking a 24-euro flight from Rome to Bulgaria and had the best time in a place I wouldn’t have otherwise visited. 

11.

Get a local SIM card.


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Don’t get stuck paying for an exorbitant data roaming charge. If your phone isn’t locked to a network, you can buy a local SIM card for pretty cheap. Get a basic data plan — enough to use Google Maps and Messenger when you’re out and about — and do most of your internet browsing and social media scrolling when you’re on Wi-Fi. Try to get a SIM that works in all (or most) European countries. 

12.

If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, budget by month rather than by day.


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When I tried to stick to a daily budget, it didn’t go well. I found it hard to juggle larger expenses like bus tickets with smaller expenses like meals on a day-to-day basis. I discovered that setting a budget on a monthly basis was way more effective. Some days I’d spend $10 and some days $100, but seeing it all average out over 30 days made a lot more sense. 

13.

Use a journal or an app to track your spending.


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During my first month abroad, I didn’t actually track how much I was spending, and it got a little overwhelming. It didn’t help that I was in London, which felt like the most expensive city on Earth. But then I started using the TripCoin app, which makes the whole budgeting process easier by helping you plan and log your expenses. I set up one trip with TripCoin for each month I was gone, which helped keep myself on track. 

14.

Consider traveling in the shoulder season or off-season.

15.

Don’t underestimate hostels — they’re often better than you might expect.

16.

Make friends if you’re traveling alone and maybe even split some costs.

17.

Use public transportation whenever you can.


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Using public transportation in a new place can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the local language, but Ubers and cabs really add up. Get advice from the front desk of your hotel about how to use public transport. Then rely on Google Maps, which has a transport option that’ll show you the best way to your destination using buses, metros, or trains complete with timetables and route numbers to make things easy for you. 

18.

Prioritize and determine what’s worth spending money on.

Do you have any great tips for saving money while traveling? Tell us in the comments below!



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101 Budget Britain Travel Tip is stupid cheap on Amazon right now. — Anglotopia Community


Amazon has hugely discounted our guidebook 101 Budget Britain Travel Tips. Normally $19.99, they’re charging $7.23 right now (we get paid the same no matter what). Not sure how long it will last!

Lots of great tips for planning your trips to Britain this year! We updated the book last year so lots of great new advice!

Details here: https://amzn.to/3eZFUCU



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Sneaky TikTok tip shows how to cram in extra baggage on budget flights


A TikTok user has gone viral for her creative tip on how to avoid paying for extra baggage on budget flights.

“My flight is in three hours, let’s see how this goes!” user Ayo, who posts as @Ayotothe, captioned her video.

In the video, she calls out two specific US budget airlines for their added baggage fees, saying “Trying the Spirit and Frontier hack, cos I ain’t tryna pay $60 for a carry on”.

She then goes on to show how you can remove the stuffing from a standard travel neck pillow in order to fill the casing with extra baggage.

She says she got the tip from TikTok in the first place, writing “A few weeks ago I saw a TikTok hack for the airlines that don’t let you carry on a bag.

“Instead you can use a travel pillow as additional storage.”

Spirit Airlines charges between $55 and $100 for a carry-on bag added on at the airport, depending on whether passengers already have a checked bag. Meanwhile, Frontier charges $60 for a carry-on checked at the airport (fees are usually slightly cheaper for carry-on bags booked in advance online).

However, most airlines will allow a neck pillow free of charge, and do not count it as a baggage item.

She credits her travel pillow to US drugstore Walgreens, saying she bought it for $9 (£6.57), and pointing out the zip where the inner filling can be removed.

Ayo then fills the emptied neck pillow with the clothes she couldn’t fit in her suitcase.

“I’m going to Vegas so ya girl needs options!” she adds.

“Here’s my luggage,” she says, showing a standard backpack and the neck pillow. “Let’s see if I make it on without paying.”

In a follow-up video, Ayo says: “So for those that care, yes, I did make it on the plane and did not have to pay extra”.

She also responded to follower comments asking why she had bothered to get around the baggage fees.

“Some of you were saying in the comments, you know, why don’t you just pay for a more expensive flight, this is too much work…”

“One: it took me five minutes to do.

“Also, I live in the Bay Area, I was going to Vegas, it was an hour flight. There’s no reason, if you live that close, why you should pay $300 for a flight when you could take one of the budget airlines.

“So try a little travel hack, like a pillowcase or this travel pillow one.”

In September, fellow TikTok star Anya Iakovlieva went viral for going one step further and stuffing a full-sized bed pillowcase with clothes in order to take more belongings on holiday.



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How much do you need to budget for travel in 2022?


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Can you afford to travel this year? After months of lockdowns and staycations, the sky’s the limit for people like Louis Brill. He canceled three trips in 2021 because of the COVID surges, so he has money in his 2022 travel budget. 

“We have five trips for this year in the planning phase,” says Brill. “We’ve basically decided there is no budget constraint.”

Brill is lucky. He’s a retired pharmacist who lives in Finksburg, Maryland, and he’s been saving his pennies for travel. The pandemic and the surprise delta variant helped him save even more. 

“My wife and I desperately want to get back to traveling,” he says.

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Spending is set to soar this year

He’s not alone. Allianz’s latest Vacation Confidence Index showed that summer vacation spending hit $150 billion in 2021, a new high. “And 2022 should be even bigger,” predicts Daniel Durazo, an Allianz spokesman.

Households earning over $100,000 a year have about $1.4 trillion to spend on discretionary items such as remodeling homes, local trips, and now more long-haul destinations, according to AAA’s research.

“Americans have more discretionary funds since they did not spend much in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic,” explains Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA.

But how do you figure out your travel budget for this year? And what are some of the expert strategies for building a better vacation budget? Just as the pandemic changed travel, so also has the conventional wisdom on travel budgeting.

► Bahamas travel:  Country updates testing requirements for entry

How to calculate your 2022 travel budget

Not everyone has an unlimited travel budget. This year, Thomas Mustac is planning a weekend trip to see one of his favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a quick weekend trip to Hungary from where he lives in Croatia, so he’s allocated $300 for it, not including the tickets. 

“I think one of the biggest budgeting mistakes is bringing exactly how much money you need,” says Mustac, who works remotely for a communications firm in Orlando. “You are risking that worst-case scenario.”

Laurel Barton is watching her budget, too. She’s making plans to travel to Europe next fall and is already looking for inexpensive plane tickets. So far, she’s had no luck. She likes to fly business class on long-haul flights, but prices keep rising. 

“So the budget is blown from the start,” says Barton, a guidebook author from Forest Grove, Oregon.

That’s not stopping her from going, though. 

“Our mantra is, ‘Postpone nothing,'” she says.

► Stranded:  Why Canadian Airlines won’t fly maskless partying travelers home

There are ways to figure out what you can afford. The personal finance company Quicken offers a free Vacation Budget Calculator on its site. Add your travel expenses and the number of people, and it comes up with a total and per-day vacation cost. The calculator is useful for remembering items that are easy to overlook, like ground transportation and travel insurance.

But experts and travelers tell me the best way to determine how much to budget for your 2022 vacation is to look at past trips. How much did you budget for those? How much did you actually spend? 

Expert advice for travel budgeting next year

“The first thing you need to consider with your 2022 travel budget is the potential increase in fares and hotel rates,” says Baruch Silvermann, a financial expert and CEO of The Smart Investor newsletter. “As domestic travelers returned to air travel, fares increased.” In 2022, that could also happen with hotels and international fares. Silvermann recommends booking early, when prices are relatively low, to avoid going over budget.

Another tip: Add some padding to your travel budget. Jeffrey Zhou, an experienced traveler who runs a financial services company, says having a little extra in the vacation budget can keep you out of trouble when things go wrong. 

“Plan for the worst-case scenario,” he advises. “Put enough money aside so that you could easily buy an extra plane ticket for each person you’re traveling with. For most domestic budgets, this would be about $300 per person.”

Actually, it’s better to overestimate your expenses for 2022, according to Silvana Frappier, owner of North Star Destinations, a full-service travel agency in Boston. Most travelers don’t think about the law of supply and demand.

“Travel has changed, and with more demand for safety and restrictions, prices will be higher,” she says. 

But whatever you do, make sure you have a budget. Even open-ended trips should have some kind of plan, according to experienced travelers. 

Ahmed Mir, the managing editor of a beverage website, is planning a tour of Southeast Asia this year but hasn’t decided where to go yet. 

“I’m budgeting about $5,000 for the travel, not including the airfares,” he says. “I think this is a pretty reasonable amount, given that exchange rates against the dollar are generally favorable, so my budget will probably allow me to travel in comfort.”

Whether you’re going away for weeks or just a weekend, having a travel budget is more important than ever. With widespread price rises, it’s also more challenging than ever. Setting a budget and sticking to it won’t be easy. Might as well get started now.

Tips for better travel budgeting

Start with a number, then pick a destination. That’s the advice of budgeting blogger Guadalupe Sanchez. Calculate how much you can put aside, then choose where to go. “Start saving at least nine months before you plan to travel, and keep all your savings in a specific bank account,” she advises. Separating the financial goal from the destination keeps you from deciding to go anyway because you’ve become emotionally attached to going somewhere.

Remember all the extras. And there are lots of them when you’re on vacation. They include meals, tips, gifts and other incidentals. “If you budget $15,000 for a trip to Italy, and your package costs $14,900, do you still have enough spending money once you arrive?,” says Stephanie Goldberg-Glazer, owner of Live Well, Travel Often, a boutique travel agency. 

Don’t take a vacation you can’t afford. For some, it’s not a question of where they should go, but if they should go. Chuck Czajka, CEO of Macro Money Concepts, a financial advisory firm in Stuart, Florida, says you shouldn’t even think about taking a vacation unless you have 50% of your current annual salary saved. “This doesn’t mean you can’t take mini-trips or weekend getaways. It only means you can’t take a trip you can’t afford,” he adds.



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Green investment, coal tip funding and free school meals expected in Welsh Government budget


Investment in tackling the climate and nature emergency will be central in the Welsh Government’s budget when it is published later today.

It will see a total investment of £1.8 billion committed over the next three years, as well as commitments to a range of measures agreed in the co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru.

In response to the climate and nature emergency, it will be spent in a range of areas including Wales’ national forest, biodiversity, active travel, the circular economy, renewable energy, flooding, and decarbonising housing.

In April 2019 Wales was the first country in the world to declare a climate emergency with the Welsh Government publishing its ‘Net Zero Wales’ plan in October.

Rebecca Evans, minister for finance and local government, said: “Today’s budget will shape the Wales we want to hand over to future generations. 

“Tackling the climate and nature emergency will require a collective effort and as a government we know it’s vital we step up and lead the way.

“That’s why we’re providing significant investment in a wide range of areas, so Wales can cut emissions and be a greener nation.”


Coal tip safety

The UK and Welsh Governments have been in an arm wrestle over funding for making coal tips safe

The Welsh Government will also provide funding to support essential maintenance works to make coal tips safe.

An additional £4.5 million will be made available to make 2,500 coal tips, now exposed to increased risks of slippage, safe. 

The Welsh Government has repeatedly called for further funding from the UK Government as coal tips predate devolution, however, there was no further funding announced in October’s UK Treasury Spending Review.

Ms Evans continued: “The effects of the climate and nature emergency are with us now. Intensifying rainfall and increasing temperatures have added to the urgency of providing funding to make coal tips safer. 

“The UK Government failed to act but our funding will provide some reassurance to the communities.

“This budget will leave Wales in a better place to manage the effects of the climate and nature emergency that are already affecting so many communities in Wales, and will only affect more in the future. We can never lose sight of the importance of protecting our planet.”


“A fairer, greener, stronger Wales”

Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government signed their co-operation agreement on December 1

This Welsh Government budget is the first since Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru announced its co-operation agreement.

It is expected to contain funding for the priorities agreed between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government including providing free school meals for all primary school pupils and free childcare for all two-year-olds.

Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd said the commitments would build the nation and strengthen Wales in a number of areas, securing transformational support for “some of our poorest households”.

Responding to the draft budget, Mr Gruffydd, the party’s finance spokesperson, said: “Thanks to Plaid Cymru, this budget will deliver an even fairer, even greener, even stronger Wales through ambitious policy pledges.

“From free school meals for all primary pupils to extending free childcare to all two-year-olds and much more, the commitments secured by Plaid Cymru as part of the co-operation agreement with Welsh Government will secure transformational support for some of our poorest households and will change people’s lives for the better across Wales.



Where next for coronavirus spending?

On Friday, December 17, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced a further £60m will be available to support businesses affected by the new restrictions in Wales

The Welsh Conservatives have called for business rate holidays to be extended, as well as calling for compensation for businesses who were losing bookings because of the Omicron variant.

Tory MS Peter Fox said: “Labour has been responsible for running Wales since the days of Tony Blair, but along with their nationalist helpers, they’ve consistently failed to improve our economy and public services.”

On Sunday (December 19), the UK Government announced it was doubling funding for the Welsh Government to tackle Covid.

Following discussions with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed an additional £270 million would be made available to Wales.

Welsh secretary of state Simon Hart, said: “The UK Government has provided unprecedented support to people, businesses and administrations right across the UK since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“This support continues with the doubling of upfront funding available for the Welsh Government to £270m, giving it the financial certainty it needs for its continued Covid-19 response.

 “It will be followed by a record funding settlement for Welsh Government of £18 billion a year for the next three years and is on top of billions in extra money which has already been provided during the pandemic to support public services in Wales.”

It is understood the Welsh Governemnt continues to call for the return of the UK-wide furlough scheme.


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Budget Friendly Holiday Gifts From Creative Lifestyles With Adeina


Adeina Anderson of Creative Lifestyles With Adeina joined Steph and Rosie to share some holiday safety tips and budget friendly gift ideas.

Holiday Safety Travel Tips

  1. My biggest tip for holiday travel is to always have a black tablecloth with you. It serves many purposes. You can hide things in the back by draping the tablecloth over the items, that way when someone looks in your vehicle, they only see the black tablecloth, or nothing at all because it blends in. It’s also great to have in case it gets cold, you can use it as a blanket.
  2. Another holiday safety travel tip I have is to always have a warm coat and a warm hat in your vehicle like the Gobi Heated Apparel. Also, always keep a first aid kit, and great boots in your vehicle.
  3. Lastly, always make sure your vehicle is in tip top shape, check all your fluids. If you live in an area that is prone to freezing, make sure you have non-freezing windshield washer fluid. Check your tire pressure, and make sure your battery is in good condition.

Hot Chocolate Bar

Items Needed

  • 3 Mason Jars
  • Wooden Crate
  • Decou Page
  • Glitter – White, Red, Green
  • Deco Art Paint – Brown
  • Antiquing Medium
  • Sponge Brush
  • Hot Chocolate Powder
  • Marshmallows
  • Candy Canes
  • Christmas Coffee Mugs

Directions

  1. Paint the outside of the mason jar with decou page.
  2. Place the jar on a paper plate and pour glitter over the outside.
  3. Shake off the excess.
  4. Let dry at least an hour.
  5. Paint another layer of decou page over the glitter and let it dry overnight.
  6. Fill each jar with the hot chocolate items.
  7. Mix 1 part brown paint and one part antiquing medium. 
  8. Paint the wooden crate and let dry.
  9. Place the filled jars inside the crate and the coffee mugs on top.

Spiked Hot Chocolate Test Tubes

Items Needed

  • Plastic Test Tubes
  • Christmas Ribbon
  • Rubber Band
  • Hot Chocolate Items
    • Candy Cane Infused Vodka – 1 Candy Cane To 2 Cups Vodka

Directions

  1. Fill the test tubes with the hot chocolate items.
  2. Tie the test tubes together with a rubber band and then tie the Christmas ribbon in a bow around them.
  3. Fill the middle with candy canes and straws.

Hot Chocolate Flight

Items Needed

  • Flight Board – I Bought Them At Target
  • Flight Glasses – I Bought Them On Amazon
  • Your Favorite Hot Chocolate
  • Whipped Cream
  • Marshmallows
  • Jimmies (Chocolate Sprinkles)
  • Christmas Sprinkles
  • Candy Canes
  • Peppermint Sprinkles
  • For Adults – Texas Ranger Coconut Pecan Whiskey
  • For Adults – Enchanted Rock Vodka And Irish Cream

Directions

  1. Create your favorite hot chocolate to start.
  2. Next, pick out what 4 different hot cholate choices you are going to create.
  3. You can make all adult hot chocolates or make it fun for the kids and create non-alcoholic hot chocolates.
  4. I created 2 spiked hot chocolates and 2 not spiked hot chocolates.
  5. For one of the spiked hot chocolates, I added ¼ shot of Enchanted Rock Vodka, and a ¼ shot of Irish Cream.
  6. For the 2nd spiked hot chocolate, I added ½ shot of Texas Ranger Coconut Pecan Whiskey.
  7. Adding the topping is the fun part, make each one different.
  8. I added whipped topping, marshmallows, chocolate sprinkles, peppermint sprinkles, go crazy and have fun.
  9. You can also have a chocolate tasting with your hot chocolate. I love sharing the Moksha Chocolates when I am doing the chocolate tastings.

Yummy Holiday Cocktail Gift Idea

Items Needed

  • Shaker and Spoon Subscription
  • Texas Ranger Coconut Pecan Whiskey Or Plantation Rum
  • Ice
  • Rock Glass

Directions

  1. Order Shaker and Spoon for the cocktail lover on your list.
  2. Wrap a bottle of the recommended alcohol and add a card sharing the great news of their new subscription gift.

For more information go to CreativeLifestyles.TV



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BBB Tip: How to Plan Your Holiday Budget


BBB Tip: How to Plan Your Holiday Budget

This holiday season, supply chain problems, shipping delays, and inflation are making it even tougher to create and stick to a budget. However, these uncertainties mean that planning ahead and knowing your spending limits are more important than ever.

How can you build a holiday budget that will cover buying for everyone on your list while keeping you out of debt? BBB recommends the following steps for calculating your seasonal budget and sticking to it.

How to make and stick to a holiday budget

Calculate your debt. Before planning gifts and parties, take a look at how much you owe. Pay close attention to any debt that incurs interest. If you have more debt than you can pay off before the holidays, then you’ll want to keep spending to a bare minimum. Remember, there are plenty of inexpensive and even free ways to show friends and family how much you love them during the holiday season.

Project your income and expenses. Next, calculate how much money you will earn this holiday season. Review your income from the past three months to calculate an average monthly income. Now, you know how much you have to work with. Before you start setting aside money for holiday fun, make a list of any regular expenses you need to take care of. These might include your utility bills, groceries, gas, and rent or mortgage payments. Don’t forget about any annual fees that might come up around the new year like HOA fees or your car registration. Subtract these necessities from your monthly income. With what’s left over and any savings you’ve set aside for the holidays, decide on how much you can spend on the holidays.

Set up a separate holiday budget. Next, make a list of holiday expenses you plan to incur. Include all holiday-related expenses but divide them into categories, such as travel costs, holiday parties, decorations, cards, gifts, clothes, professional photos, gift wrap, etc. Add up the cost of each item and subtract it from your holiday budget amount. If you have leftover funds, great! If you are over budget, consider what items you want to prioritize and what items you can modify or cut from your list. For example, your budget might not allow you to host a 50-guest holiday bash for the whole block, but you may be able to afford an intimate family holiday dinner instead.

Create a gift list. detailed shopping list can be a huge help when working with a specific holiday budget. Write down each individual you are planning to buy a gift for and add a price range by their name. Jot down a few gift ideas too. This will help you do your research and find better deals when purchasing their gift.
Plan for inflation. Consumer prices are increasing, which can affect both your gift-giving plans and your daily expenses. Be sure to factor rising prices into your regular budget for items like groceries and gas. When working on your holiday budget, it’s important to know that some gifts will cost more than they did last year, and they may not ever go on sale thanks to microchip shortages and supply chain delays. Always do a price comparison before you buy a product and don’t be afraid to scale back on gift-giving this year if you need to.
Avoid panic buying. Whatever you do, don’t panic buy. Yes, many items will be in limited supply but there is still a plethora of items you can purchase as gifts. It’s never a good idea to pay more for an item than what it’s worth, just because it’s in short supply. In fact, that’s how many people fall victim to hot toy scams and counterfeit product scams each year.

Keep track of your spending. This is one of the most important tips on this list. By tracking your spending, you’ll always know how much you have left to spend, when it is ok to splurge on an item, and when you’re approaching your budget limit. Tracking your spending will keep you from making unwise purchases on a whim and help you avoid taking on unnecessary debt.

Consider alternative ways to gift. If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy the extravagant gifts you once did, there are still ways to practice meaningful giving this holiday season. If you are a creative type, handmade gifts can mean the world to your friends and family. Is there a new mom or an older person on your gift list? Consider giving them a gift of service by offering to prepare them dinner or clean their home. Talk to your family about holiday budgeting too. They may be in a similar situation. Some families cut down on gift-giving by doing a Secret Santa exchange with a set spending limit.



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How to plan your holiday budget


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This holiday season, supply chain problems, shipping delays, and inflation are making it even tougher to create and stick to a budget. However, these uncertainties mean that planning ahead and knowing your spending limits are more important than ever.  

How can you build a holiday budget that will cover buying for everyone on your list while keeping you out of debt? BBB recommends the following steps for calculating your seasonal budget and sticking to it.

How to make and stick to a holiday budget
 

  • Calculate your debt. Before planning gifts and parties, take a look at how much you owe. Pay close attention to any debt that incurs interest. If you have more debt than you can pay off before the holidays, then you’ll want to keep spending to a bare minimum. Remember, there are plenty of inexpensive and even free ways to show friends and family how much you love them during the holiday season.
  • Project your income and expenses. Next, calculate how much money you will earn this holiday season. Review your income from the past three months to calculate an average monthly income. Now, you know how much you have to work with. Before you start setting aside money for holiday fun, make a list of any regular expenses you need to take care of. These might include your utility bills, groceries, gas, and rent or mortgage payments. Don’t forget about any annual fees that might come up around the new year like HOA fees or your car registration. Subtract these necessities from your monthly income. With what’s left over and any savings you’ve set aside for the holidays, decide on how much you can spend on the holidays.
  • Set up a separate holiday budget. Next, make a list with holiday expenses you plan to incur. Include all holiday related expenses but divide them into categories, such as travel costs, holiday parties, decorations, cards, gifts, clothes, professional photos, gift wrap, etc. Add up the cost of each item and subtract it from your holiday budget amount. If you have left over funds, great! If you are over budget, consider what items you want to prioritize and what items you can modify or cut from you list. For example, your budget might not allow you to host a 50-guest holiday bash for the whole block, but you may be able to afford an intimate family holiday dinner instead.
  • Create a gift list. A detailed shopping list can be a huge help when working with a specific holiday budget. Write down each individual you are planning to buy a gift for and add a price range by their name. Jot down a few gift ideas too. This will help you do your research and find better deals when purchasing their gift.
  • Plan for inflation. Consumer prices are increasing, which can affect both your gift-giving plans and your daily expenses. Be sure to factor rising prices into your regular budget for items like groceries and gas. When working on your holiday budget, it’s important to know that some gifts will cost more than they did last year, and they may not ever go on sale thanks to microchip shortages and supply chain delays. Always do a price comparison before you buy a product and don’t be afraid to scale back on gift giving this year if you need to.  
  • Take advantage of sales, rewards, and cash-back offers. Take advantage of Black Friday deals, Small Business Saturday sales, and Cyber Monday offers but don’t expect the same deep discounts you may have seen in pre-pandemic years. If you are part of a rewards or loyalty program that offers special discounts or cash-back rewards, save money by using these promos to purchase gifts and decorations.
  • Bundle your shipping. Free shipping may not be as common as it was last year, so before you click the checkout button, double check the store’s shipping policies. In some cases, you may be able to get multiple gifts in a single purchase so you can reach the minimum dollar amount and qualify for free shipping.
  • Avoid panic buying. Whatever you do, don’t panic buy. Yes, many items will be in limited supply but there is still a plethora of items you can purchase as gifts. It’s never a good idea to pay more for an item than what it’s worth, just because it’s in short supply. In fact, that’s how many people fall victim to hot toy scams and counterfeit product scams each year.
  • Keep track of your spending. This is one of the most important tips on this list. By tracking your spending, you’ll always know how much you have left to spend, when it is ok to splurge on an item, and when you’re approaching your budget limit. Tracking your spending will keep you from making unwise purchases on a whim and help you avoid taking on unnecessary debt.
  • Consider alternative ways to gift. If your budget doesn’t allow you to buy the extravagant gifts you once did, there are still ways to practice meaningful giving this holiday season. If you are a creative type, handmade gifts can mean the world to your friends and family. Is there a new mom or an older person on your gift list? Consider giving them a gift of service by offering to prepare them dinner or clean their home. Talk to your family about holiday budgeting too. They may be in a similar situation. Some families cut down on gift-giving by doing a Secret Santa exchange with a set spending limit.

 

For more information

Get more advice by reading BBB’s Holiday Tips and reviewing BBB’s tips for smart shopping online.

Always make purchases from businesses who adhere to the BBB Standards for Trust. Find out more about BBB’s Accreditation Standards.

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Five tips for travelling and holidays on a budget


S

o many places to see, so little time, and, in many cases, even less money.

For many, the travel restrictions put in place during the pandemic have only enhanced their wanderlust, but budgets are tighter than ever.

If you’re already dreaming of your 2022 travel bucket list, below, we’ve rounded up alternative ways to save money as you globe-trot.

From joining free walking tours to saving cash on attractions with a tourism card, here’s our guide.

House swap

It might conjure up images of The Holiday – and accommodation might not always be as glamorous – but house swaps provide a fantastically economical way of seeing the world for those in the know. Just as you might be considering how to get away but don’t have a place to stay, someone else somewhere in the world is thinking the same. If this person is in a country or city you wish to visit, and vice versa, why not strike a deal? While you are in the new city at their house, you will stay in their house, while they will stay at yours back home — and everyone saves cash. Love Home Swap and Home Exchange are popular sites that facilitate house swaps.

Join free walking tours

Walking tours were developed to give tourists a different way of enjoying a new city. Most are free, though some require a small fee. Either way, it’s a healthier, cheaper and more environmentally-friendly way of enjoying a new destination, plus you’ll make friends along the way. SANDEMANs arranges free walking tours in cities across the UK and Europe, including Lisbon and Berlin.

Use tourism cards

Tourism cards can help reduce costs for travellers who want to see all that a city has to offer. They typically offers discounted access to major tourist attractions in a given country or a city. We Love City Cards, for example, offers benefits, priority access and discounts to attractions in 29 European cities and 16 countries.

Be a loyal customer

Airlines often reward loyal customers with discounts, upgrades, lounge access and, sometimes, even free flights. So, where possible, try and stick to the same airlines when you fly so you can build up points to redeem for free travel perks.

Volunteer at major events

One way of seeing a major tournament or sporting event (if you aren’t lucky enough to nab tickets) is by volunteering. Many large-scale events are too much for organisers to handle alone so they require volunteers. FIFA makes use of thousands of volunteers for events like the world cup, for whom their entire trip is free. The organisation typically covers accommodation and food for volunteers, who will then have time to explore the destination while they’re in town.



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Best budget heated travel blanket – WKRG News 5


Which budget heated travel blanket is best?

Heated travel blankets are a great way to stay warm on a long winter road trip. If your car doesn’t feature heated seats, travel blankets can provide comfort on your commute to and from work. People experience cold and heat differently. What’s too hot for some people might not be hot enough for others. Travel blankets allow everyone to adjust accordingly.

The perfect budget heated travel blanket provides powerful heat for a fair price. The top pick, the Car Cozy 12V Heated Travel Blanket, comes with a 7-foot cord to reach the person in your car who needs it the most, regardless of where they’re sitting. Here are the factors to consider when shopping for budget heated travel blankets.

What to know before you buy a budget heated travel blanket

Power source

Budget heated travel blankets plug into your car’s 12-volt cigarette lighter. If you’ve never used your car’s cigarette lighter, or you haven’t used it in years, check to make sure it’s working before you buy your blanket. It won’t work without one.

Some newer cars don’t have a cigarette lighter and only offer USB power. You can power most high-end blankets via USB, but nearly all budget models still require the cigarette lighter. While you can buy a power adapter, it’s probably a better use of your funds just to purchase the more expensive blanket if your car only has USB power.

Fabric and design

Most heated travel blankets are fleece, but the quality of that fleece can vary considerably. Look for a model with thick or polar fleece. This should provide a good amount of warmth even if not plugged in. Also, keep an eye out for fleece with weather-resistant materials, especially if you know you’ll be traveling in sleet or snow.

Budget heated travel blankets come in a variety of colors and patterns. Choose the one you like best, but keep in mind that a light-colored model will require more frequent cleaning. Be sure to store your blanket in a bag with a zipper so that you do not attract dust and hair.

Size and cord length

Some blankets are meant to cover your entire body, while others are meant to cover just your arms or just your legs. A blanket for a large adult will be far too big for a small child, and vice versa. Choose the size of your blanket by the person who will use it the most often.

Also, pay attention to cord length. Models vary from five to eight feet. If you’ve got a big truck, and the person in the backseat gets chilly, you’ll want that extra foot or two.

What to look for in a quality budget heated travel blanket

Minimal amperage

All budget heated travel blankets work while the engine is running, but you may experience mixed results running them off just the battery. Most blankets shouldn’t take much battery power, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when traveling in cold weather. Look for a model that specifically notes its low or minimal amperage.

Some budget models will also feature an automatic shutoff to avoid draining the battery while you sit idle.

Sufficient heat

The ability to select your heat level is not standard on travel blankets, especially budget models. This often surprises buyers and is the number one negative criticism when looking at customer reviews.

Heated travel blankets work with the heat that’s already in your car. As such, they’re usually warm instead of hot, like the electric blanket or heating pad you may have at home. If you require a super hot blanket, you may need to bump up to a high-end model.

Premium features

While most budget heated travel blankets will come with basic or no added features, some models offer at least a few of the luxuries found on their more expensive counterparts. Look for models that provide heat settings for comfort or an automatic shutoff for safety.

You can find models with LED lights that tell you when the blanket is drawing power so you can be sure to preserve your battery. You’ll also see models with timers that regulate your blanket’s heat in half-hour intervals.

How much you can expect to spend on a budget heated travel blanket

Budget heated travel blankets range from $20-$40. The closer you get to $40, the more likely it will be that your blanket is made of high-quality fleece or comes with premium features.

Budget heated travel blanket FAQ

Can you use multiple blankets at once?

A. While there are 12-volt cigarette lighter multi-outlet power splitters on the market, they aren’t recommended for use with multiple heated blankets. Splitting power with a second blanket could lead to diminishing results.

What’s the best way to clean a heated travel blanket?

A. Follow the recommended instructions from the manufacturer for your model. Some heated travel blankets must be washed by hand. Other models have a way to remove the electronic heating components so you can machine wash and dry the fleece exterior. Either way, be sure your blanket is completely dry before using it again.

What’s the best budget heated travel blanket to buy?

Top budget heated travel blanket

Car Cozy 12V Heated Travel Blanket

Car Cozy 12V Heated Travel Blanket

What you need to know: This option has high-end features on a budget price.

What you’ll love: It’s big enough for two people to use at the same time, has an automatic timed shutoff feature and includes a 7-foot cord that reaches anyone in your vehicle.

What you should consider: The blanket gets warm but not hot, which was a deal breaker for some users.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top budget heated travel blanket for the money

Stalwart 12V Heated Travel Blanket

Stalwart 12V Heated Travel Blanket

What you need to know: This is a soft blanket that gives a homey feeling to your car.

What you’ll love: It comes in five different colors, has an 8-foot cord for maximum reach and the material is a nice quality fleece.

What you should consider: Some users reported their blankets got way too hot or stopped working over time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond and Wayfair

Worth checking out

RoadPro 12V Heated Travel Blanket

RoadPro 12V Heated Travel Blanket

What you need to know: This option is a bit pricier than the other two picks, but it’s worth it for the polar fleece.

What you’ll love: It’s an oversized blanket with an 8-foot cord, uses thick polar fleece that provides extra heat and comfort and includes an LED light indicating when the blanket is drawing power.

What you should consider: This is another model that falls into the “warm but not super hot” category.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Frank Paiva writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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