You don’t have to be rich to travel a lot, you just have to learn how to do it cheaply. There are many things that you can do while you are planning, booking and at your destination, that can help you save a ton of money. Follow these tips and they will help you to travel more frequently, I promise!
Pick destinations based on flights
Instead of picking a destination and only looking up flights for that specific place, hunt around and see what is on sale. If you look around you come across flight deals, sales and even error fares to some amazing destinations. You might not find a deal for the place you originally had in mind, however you might just find one for half the price to another great location. There are also a number of helpful sites that post daily flight deals for all over the world such as Secret Flying and The Flight Deal.
Take your time and do your research
Be patient, you don’t need to rush to book your flight. If you take your time and do your research, you will have a far better chance to find a bargain. According to research, the optimum time to book your flight on average is 54 days before you need to fly. Tuesday afternoons after 3pm is also seen as being the best time of the week to book your flight, as that is when the airlines generally release their sales.
If you decide on specific dates that you are going to fly, it could make your cost go up. By using Google Flights or Sky Scanner, you can see the different prices to fly for each day based on where you are going. Sometimes, it can impact your price a lot by just moving your take-off by one day! As a general rule, Wednesday and Saturday flights are normally the cheapest.
Stay in hostels
Many people think hostels are cheaper, because they are dirty and unkempt which is not true. Don’t get me wrong, I have stayed in some pretty dicey ones, however they are not all like that. Research the hostel you are looking at before you book and you will be fine. Hostels are more than half the price of a hotel, the cheapest I have stayed in was $15 a night! That is obviously a lot better than spending $100 or more for a night. They are dorm room style, but if you don’t like the idea of sharing a room, you can get a private one for more money. It is also a great way for travelers (especially solo) to meet people. There are always hostels in city centers as well, so you can find them in convenient locations. Most of them have kitchens, common areas, activities, laundry rooms and some even have a bar and restaurant.
Use your rewards points
First, you have to save! I used to use my credit card points as soon as they accumulated enough for a $25/$50 store or restaurant gift card. Then I realized if I saved them, I could use them to get free flights instead. Completely worth saving for! I recently booked a round trip ticket to the Dominican Republic for $0! Many credit cards give you “thank you” points just for opening a card with them or a special deal such as 40,000 points after spending $3k in three months. Use your credit card for everything, paying off as you go and you can start off with having a ton of points (and probably a free flight). The Points Guy is a great site to lean more about the most recent credit card deals and points. I recently opened a Chase IHG Rewards Credit Card and that will give me 70,000 for spending $1k within three months. That is hard to beat!
Eat out less
Bring food and snacks with you to avoid spending a ton of money eating out. While one of the great things about traveling is trying the country’s food, you don’t have to eat every meal out. If you stay in a hostel, B&B or hotel with a kitchen you can buy groceries and cook for yourself. Even if it is just once a day for breakfast, your wallet will thank you.
Take public transportation
Hopping in cabs all the time can be expensive. To avoid paying over 90 euros for a cab from the airport in Milan to my hostel, I took a bus to the train station which left me off right by it! While situations like that aren’t ideal, it saves you a ton of money. Many places aren’t hard to navigate especially with apps like Google Translate which converts words and signs into the language you choose just by taking a photo of it. I recommend looking up directions before your trip and then using your handy apps as you need while navigating around.
Stick to local food
If you do eat out, it is much cheaper to eat street food or go to local restaurants. The higher end or chain restaurants will rip you off and you won’t experience the authentic food the country has. Plus, what is the point of traveling to the Middle East to eat in The Cheesecake Factory?! One caveat with this, is that you do need to do your research before hand about the water. If the tap water is not safe to drink in an area you are visiting then you may want to steer clear of any uncooked food such, as fruit or vegetables and clean your teeth with bottled water.
Chicken and rice with a side salad, vegetables and french fries at a local restaurant in Costa Rica only cost me $5 USD…. and it was delicious! When I didn’t eat at the local restaurants, my meals cost me between $15-30 (depending on what I got).
Exchange your money via ATM
I used to go to the bank before a trip to exchange money or do it at the airports or shops in the cities. Horrible idea. They rob you blind with fees! Get a debit card that doesn’t charge you ATM fees (I use Capital One High Yield Checking), and take the money out when you arrive in the country. You get the best rate and you don’t have to pay any fees. You can also take the money out as you go. I would always have leftover money and then have to pay fees to convert it back to USD when I got home. Most places take credit cards, so if you have one that doesn’t have oversea transaction fees (such as Chase Sapphire), you can use it almost anywhere except maybe street stands or some local spots. I have gotten away without even converting money in the past.
Take advantage of free tours
When I stayed at my hostel in Nice, France they offered free walking tours of the city. There are many hotels and hostels that offer this. If you are not staying in one that offers this, there are companies all over the world that do offer them. Just look up free city tours for whichever area you are visiting and it will pop right up! A few tour examples are below.
Athens Free City Tour
Bratislava Be Free Tours
Hanoi Free City Tours
New Europe Walking Tours (all over Europe and also in NYC, Israel & Tel Aviv)
NYC Big Apple Greeters
Reykjavik Free Walking Tours
Sydeny/Melbourne Walking Tours