The Ultimate Guide for Traveling on a Budget
Traveling on a Budget
I like to save and budget by nature so traveling is no different. Im always looking for the best deals on flights, sleeping accommodations, and things to do. Traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few ways to become a budget traveler:
Before the Trip Savings Tips:
- Be flexible with your vacation dates. I know booking a trip over the 4th of July weekend or Memorials day sounds ideal. Most of us already have those days off as paid holidays (If you’re lucky). But transportation (flights, bus, train, etc) and overnight accommodations surge closer to and on the holidays. You’ll save BIG on your plane ticket and sleeping arrangements by avoiding the holiday or your vacation destinations busy season.
- Book in advance. If you want to find the cheapest fares you want to book as early as possible.
- Ask for Discounts: Save big bucks on your Airbnb or hotel accommodations by, droll roll please, asking nicely! Before you book your room on a site like Expedia, call the hotel directly and see if they can offer you a better rate by booking through them. I learned from a friend recently that you can even ask your Airbnb host for a discounted rate on their posted price! While they can definitely say no, and sometimes do. They sometimes say yes!
- Use credit cards!: if you have a credit card that offers miles or cash back for purchases definitely use it! It’s a way to “buy now and pay later” on your hotel and flight accommodations. The benefits of my Capital One card are great. I save money every trip by purchasing plane tickets with my capital one credit card and getting free travel insurance. An expense that’s well worth the purchase if you cant get it free.
- Check out websites like Groupon: They offer amazing trips with itineraries and flights for pennies on the dollar!
- Travel with friends and split costs: While you’ll obviously be responsible for your own flight, you can save big on overnight accommodations by booking a hotel room or an Airbnb that can accommodate your party. Splitting the price of your accommodation can be a great way for everyone to save. You might even save more money using tip number 2!
- Companion Fare: This is an airline perk I have yet to use but it sounds pretty sweet! Airlines like Southwest offer discounts or even buy one get one free ticket deals if you have their credit card. Read about Southwests companion program and a few others here.
- Be flexible with your mode of transportation: There’s nothing like a good road trip, bus, or train ride. You could save big by driving to your vacation destination. Similarly, you could take the bus or train but that may take longer.
- Take advantage of the US Dollar: Our money can go pretty far in beautiful countries like Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia etc. Plan your trips around locations where you won’t have to break the bank to have an amazing time. We lived like royalty in Thailand. We had an amazing hotel and paid only a fraction of what the same hotel would cost in America or Europe.
- Take advantage of #TravelTuesday: According to lots of travel gurus, Tuesday is almost always the cheapest day to buy plane tickets.
- Use Travel apps. Travel apps like Skiplagged, Hopper and Sky Scanner do all the hard work searching for flights for you by letting you know when you should book your flight or wait for a better price.
Traveling on a Budget, Airline Saving Tips:
- Subscribe to email alerts: Lots of airlines offer flight deals during non-peak dates. Sign up for all of the major airlines’ email alerts so you can jump on top of cheap fares, and fare deals.
- Book in advance: Save big on flights by watching prices and booking in advance. Read about 10 Must-Have Travel Apps here.
- Book using a private window: Websites have a tricky way of tracking what prices you have been quoted in the past. Avoid this by clearing your cookies and browsing incognito.
- Fly with budget airlines: Airlines like Spirit and Frontier get a bad rap sometimes but they have awesome no frill fares. I personally wouldn’t fly either for a flight over 6 hours but anything less than that (direct flight, no layover) is okay.
- Buy your ticket directly from the airport: With airlines like Spirit, you can save big by making a trip to the airport and buying your ticket at the counter. Be sure to call ahead and ask before you make the drive. Read about how to save big on Spirit flights here.
- Be flexible with your departure city: We save a couple of hundred bucks flying from port cities instead of direct from Detroit. Flights out of Chicago or New York are usually the cheapest and even with buying flights to those cities it usually still comes out cheaper than flying directly from Detroit.
- Save up frequent flyer miles: Every point counts. Once they add up you’ll be able to cash in on a free ticket!
- Travel Light: Most airlines will give you a free carry on and personal item. Adding bags can easily be a $30+ expense if you’re on a flight that doesn’t include a free checked bag.
- Bring food with you: Skip the expensive airport food and bring your own snacks.
While on the Trip Money Saving Tips:
- Stay in hostels: I know that it may not sound appealing from some travelers but hear me out! If you’re going on a trip and don’t plan on being in your room, hostels may be a great, and CHEAP option! Hostels are usually clean, safe, and affordable. They usually offer some free perks ( breakfast, lounge, WiFi access) and are a great way to meet fellow travelers. Always do your research to ensure you’re finding a place that works for you. You don’t want to end up in a party hostel if that’s not your thing and vice versa.
- Cook your own food: Find an Airbnb or a hotel with a kitchenette and head to the local market and make your own meals. Depending on where you’re visiting you could save big making one or two of your square meals yourself.
- Eat street food: If you went to a place where the US dollar goes far, you may end up saving more money by buying delicious street food. Usually, freshly prepared in front of you, and a fraction of what restaurant food might cost.
- Free Tours/Classes/Museums: Lots of major cities offer free walking tours, free museum days, and free classes. This is a great way to experience the best the city has to offer without breaking the bank on a private tour or expensive excursion.
- Avoid gift shops: And shopping in general if you’re on a tight budget. You can find plenty of free momentos that you can take home to remember your trip by (hotel matchbooks, hotel pens, etc.)
- Stay somewhere that includes breakfast: If you don’t want to cook your own food, stay somewhere that includes breakfast. That’s one meal you have to budget for each day.
- Use public transportation: This obviously varies from place to place depending on how big and efficient your destination vacation public transportation system is. If it’s easy to navigate, its almost always cheaper than taking a taxi or using a rideshare service.
- Learn to haggle: Haggling is by far one of my favorite things to do while traveling! If you have to buy souvenirs be sure to haggle with the locals. Don’t worry about feeling uncomfortable as its usually the norm to haggle and they can always say no to your offer.
- Claim back Tax: Each country has a different process but it’s worth exploring if you can claim the taxes back that you spent on your trip.
- Buy a sim card/Download WhatsApp: If your phone provider doesn’t have free international calling/data/texting buy a local sim card and keep in contact with people back home. Similarly, you could download WhatsApp.
What are some ways you save money while traveling?
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