By Chelsea Becker

So you have your dream vacation in mind, but don't think your budget will allow? You don't have to compromise as much as you might think to have the vacation of your dreams. With more booking options and resources available now more than ever, there are a bunch of ways to travel well, even if you're short on funds. Here are 5 ways to travel well on a budget:

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Plan well in advance

Probably our biggest piece of advice, planning ahead is crucial if you're looking to get the best travel deals. Keep in mind that planning too far ahead isn't always a good thing though - we've found that the sweet spot is to book around 4-6 months before your travel window. It's always good to do your research though, and on many travel sites, you can set up online trackers just by entering your e-mail address - this is a great way to track the cost of flights and hotels to ensure you're getting the best price.

Decide what’s most important

When you're traveling on a budget, it's not realistic to think you can stay in a 5-star hotel, do all the activities you've been dreaming of, and eat at nice restaurants every night. The key to traveling well on a budget is deciding what's most important for you to get out of your trip. For example, if you're not going to be spending much time in your hotel because you want to sightsee, stay in a cheaper hotel and spend more of your budget on the activities. Or if you're a total foodie, skip the sightseeing tours and splurge on a few nice dinners instead!

Be flexible

If you don't have to take your vacation during a specific time frame, being flexible can get you much better travel deals. Traveling during the Summer is typically much more costly than traveling during the Fall because demand is so much higher (school is out, and more families with school-age children are traveling then). So if you've had your mind set on traveling some place tropical but didn't think you could afford it, try booking during off-peak times instead - you're much more likely to find better deals then.

Do your research

When it comes to traveling, it's important to know what you're getting yourself into before you actually commit to a destination. That means you probably shouldn't buy a flight just because it was on sale, and assume everything else will fall into place. If you're traveling somewhere on a budget, read up on the costs of hotels, food, and transportation to make sure it aligns with what you're looking to spend. A good example is a destination like Hawaii - traveling to Maui may be out of your budget, but another island on Hawaii like Kauai or Oahu may be a little more do-able.

Use a travel agency

If you're looking to get the biggest bang for your buck, we suggest working with a travel agency. Many travel agencies charge a very nominal fee (if any) for their services - this is because they actually make their money from the hotels and airlines when they sell their services. If you're working within a specific budget, a travel agent can also recommend destinations and itineraries based on what you're looking to spend. Plus, travel agents can usually throw in extras like a free room upgrade or champagne upon arrival - hey, we won't say no to that!

Do you have any tips for traveling well on a budget? If you do, we'd love to hear them!