13 of my Tested Tricks to Traveling on a Budget.
I think it’s no secret that most of us love to travel. There’s something so grounding about a trip filled with exploring and jumping out of our comfort zones. Trying out someone else’s life and comparing it to our own to see what life lessons or changes we can take home with us. Vacation from our real life is also key to avoiding burnout — taking time to get away is like hitting a reset button.
We know that every place has something unique to offer, so we have a lot of adventuring to do. If you’re anything like me, your travel bucket list is getting rather long.
What’s stopping us from just getting out there and going for it?
The most obvious answer is that even if we have the time available to do it, travel is expensive.
With all this wanderlust inspiration, it’s a constant struggle between wanting to go new places, and not knowing the best way to make it happen while sticking to a budget.
Well as someone who has spent her fair share of time traveling and hardcore budgeting, I have become something of an expert in this category. Today I’m going to share with you my 13 favorite tips for traveling on a budget.
1. Use an “incognito” window when shopping for your travels.
The sneaky airline companies place cookies on your flight searches. If certain flights have a lot of eyes on them, they will raise the prices for these flights because they know there is a demand for them. To keep prices lower for you (and everyone else) try using an incognito window.
Bonus tip: If you’re traveling with a buddy, do all the price research on your computer, and book on your travel partner’s computer. Some airlines are quite sophisticated and track you specifically. In the past when I’ve done this there was a several dollar difference between the price reflected on my computer (the machine we used for research) and my friend’s (the machine we ended up booking the trip on) at the exact same time.
2. Stay in an Airbnb and buy groceries.
This one is a bit obvious, but I couldn’t leave it out because it’s such a money saver.
I always insist on staying in places that have a kitchen. Typically I opt for Airbnb, but some hotels have started to offer this amenity as well. Even if you only use the kitchen to cook one meal a day it can save you a lot of money — especially if you’re traveling for a longer period of time. It’s an added bonus if you have any kind of dietary restriction, because if you’re having a hard time finding food to accommodate your needs, this can be a lifesaver.
3. Try Google Flight tracker.
There are many websites that compare the cheapest flights or create bundle deals for discounted travel, so I’ll skip that as a tip and instead tell you about a handy feature on Google you may not have noticed. If you head to “Google Flights” and search a flight, you will get the available options to your destination sorted by what is cheapest. If you scroll down a bit, there’s a toggle that says “track this flight”. Tick this box and you will receive an automated email each time the flight changes price. I typically will have 4–5 trackers going for one trip (using different date options I’d be open to) and book when the flight price drops — it often will.
Note: Some airlines, like Southwest, do not allow their flights to be searchable on these sorts of tools. If you like to travel on certain airlines, I recommend that you check their websites directly to compare with Google.
4. Use a travel credit card.
Using a travel credit card without conversion fees can potentially save you hundreds to thousands of dollars. When traveling with a standard U.S. bank account debit card, you will be charged a conversion fee for each transaction made in a different currency. You also have no transparency over the conversion rate used (i.e. are they using the actual exchange rate?). Many banks unfortunately use an inflated rate to ‘protect themselves from fluctuations’ which adds up, and not in your favor.
I personally use and love the CapitalOne Venture card for this purpose, but any travel credit card with no conversion fees will work. If you are someone who is against credit cards, I completely understand, but this may be the one exception you want to make — just pay it off as you go to avoid interest — effectively treating it like a debit card.
5. Think outside the box.
Thinking outside the box means looking at alternative transport routes, transport options, and airport destinations.
If you’re looking to get from Amsterdam to London, check the price difference between flights, trains, or even a ferry. If you’re flexible a bit on time, this can sometimes save quite a bit of money and maybe allow you to see more than you would have on a plane.
Sometimes you’ll also find that alternative airports are cheaper than the main one in the city you’re headed to, because many budget airlines keep their flight prices low by using alternative airports. An example of this is London — check into Stansted, Gatwick, and Luton airports instead of just Heathrow. These ‘outskirts’ airports also usually have very easy transport to the city center.
Note: There are two sides to this coin (the other side is my next tip).
6. Use large airports.
On the flip side, often if you’re flying internationally, the largest airport you can reach may be the cheapest. For example, when living in San Diego, I found I could save several hundred dollars each way leaving from LAX instead of my local airport when flying abroad. It turns out that the San Diego airport actually just put me on a flight from San Diego to Los Angeles, so by cutting out this flight I saved quite a bit of money (usually more than enough to cover the long-term parking lot if I couldn’t find a ride).
7. Travel in the off season.
In general, most people travel in the spring and summer months. By adjusting your trip from July to October, you will usually save money on flights, accommodations, and many other things once you get to your destination. You will also experience less crowding in the streets and more locals out and about to meet.
8. Purchase / book your tickets on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Typically fewer people think to book a flight mid-week (they’re too busy in work mode) and airlines drop prices on these days due to the decrease in demand. Use this to your advantage!
9. Fly during the week.
In addition to booking your trip during the week, try traveling during the work week (ex. Tuesday to Tuesday, or Thursday to Monday). These off-days are usually cheaper than traveling on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
10. Travel light.
If you can fit your trip into a carry on and a personal item, many budget flights become available to you (or you’ll at least save on the baggage fees)! Are you really going to wear 4 dresses on your trip anyways?
11. Avoid touristy restaurants AND/OR eat out for lunch instead of dinner.
If you’re in the city center of most places or anywhere near a tourist attraction, you’re going to pay inflated prices for often lower-quality food. Head out of the center a bit and you’re bound to find more local hot-spots and sometimes better food at lower prices.
Also, if you want to eat out for one meal a day, I recommend eating out for lunch instead of dinner — it’s almost always cheaper to munch off the lunch menu.
12. Don’t buy souvenirs.
This one can be hard, but souvenirs are usually knick knacks that are pretty meaningless when you boil it down — they can be quite flimsy, low quality, or bound to break on the way home. Save the money and take some photos you can print to display in your home instead.
Note: Exception if you’re a collector of a specific type of souvenir.
13. Keep your phone on airplane mode & connect to WiFi OR get a local sim card.
My phone company (Verizon) offers a “great” deal by charging “just” $10 a day while you’re abroad to use your phone *queue sarcasm*. Instead of building up hundreds of extra dollars on your phone bill, I keep my phone on Airplane Mode the entire time I’m abroad. It will still connect to WiFi and works great as a portable camera, but doesn’t connect to the cell towers so I don’t have to pay Verizon. If you absolutely need a phone at all times, I recommend getting a local sim card for your trip. You can often find pay-as-you-go plans that sometimes even include data at a much more reasonable cost than your provider at home.
There you have it! My top 13 tips for traveling on a budget. I hope you found something new in this list to add to your list of budget-savvy travel skills.
Did you know most of these or find any of them interesting?
Do you have any tips to add? Leave them in the comments below!
Originally published at https://delaneyjaye.com.