Note: This is a guest post written by Maya.
If you know me, you know that I absolutely love traveling. And, if you really know me, you know that the one thing I crave more than traveling itself, is traveling as frequently & as cheaply as possible.
An important note I should point out, however, is that when I say, “Travel more, pay less,” or when I am talking about traveling on a budget, I don’t mean that you need to sleep outside on a bench, eat at McDonald’s three times a day or pass up the main attractions in the city–-not at all!
When I say traveling on a budget, I mean that you can save money while traveling, getting you to a point where you can travel more and pay less. This means staying at hotels/AirBnb’s, eating what ever you want, and not missing out on a thing!
With that being said, I am now going to teach you how you can travel more, and pay less. Below is your guide to traveling on a budget.
LET’S GET STARTED !
1. Where & How To Find Cheap Flights
When I am looking for flights, I first check out what is going on in Skyscanner. I love this website, it shows you all of the flight deals that are on the market, and compares flight prices between different sources online. If you’re interested, I also have a full guide on how you can find cheap flights on Skyscanner on my blog.
After using Skyscanner, I also like to check out Agoda’s flight deals. Often they have some very good deals!
Honestly, usually I book flights through Skyscanner, it really is my favorite flight booking site, and I have booked many cheap flights through their site. However, Agoda is a great back-up place to look, just to ensure you’re really getting the most out of your money.
A few tips to know about booking flights/hotels:
* Use Google Chrome’s incognito mode to search flights/hotels/anything:
When searching online for flights/hotels/anything you can buy, use the incognito mode of Google Chrome. This way, the websites you are looking at can’t plant cookies on your computer, and can’t track what you are searching for online.
What do I mean ?
When you accept cookies from a site on your computer, it means that the sites you are searching on can see what you are looking for. This is nice and all until you want to buy something, especially when it’s a flight/hotel.
For instance, let’s say you really want to go to Paris. It’s your dream to go there and in the past few weeks you’ve been searching everywhere for that cheap flight.
Well, you finally found the one! You check out, and then suddenly the price goes up…WHAT?! What just happened here? Why did the price suddenly skyrocket?
…Because of the cookies these sites planted on your computer. They know how desperate you are because they know you have been searching everywhere for plane tickets. This allows them to easily take advantage of you. Don’t let them! Go incognito.
The more flexible you are, the better.
If you have a flexible schedule, you are more likely to find better deals on flights and hotels. You could check Skyscanner to see when the best time to travel to a specific destination is, or where you should travel to if you have a specific month or dates. This will allow you to ensure the best flight and the best deals.
You should ONLY book flights on these days.
Not a lot of people know, but the days that you are looking for, and especially the days you are booking flights on, matter.
The best days to book flights are through Monday-Wednesday, with Wednesday being the cheapest day to book a flight!
On the weekend you are more likely to find expensive flights. Why? Well…who wants to go on a lovely weekend getaway? YOU DO! And who knows you really want to go on that lovely weekend getaway? ALL OF THE TOURISM SITES!
This means that between Thursday and Sunday, the prices in any flights/hotels booking sites will be the highest.
From Monday the prices will go down, but they will be the cheapest between Tuesday-Wednesday. You’ll just need to take the risk between buying that cheap flight Monday or taking the risk of either the flight being completely booked or you scoring the cheapest flight of all on Wednesday.
2. Where To Find Good Hotel Deals
My favorite hotel booking sights:
Hotelscombined.com – The first website I like to look at while searching for a nice yet cheap hotel, is hotelscombined.com. This site shows you all of the offers that are out online for a specific hotel.
This is similar to the idea of Skyscanner, but on hotels instead. This is a good site to stop at first while finding places to stay at your future destination, as it will give you the price range of the hotels in that area.
Agoda.com – I’ve talked about Agoda when searching for flights, but I actually use this website mainly for booking hotels. First of all, they have an entire sale page with great deals, and even if there isn’t any special deals going on, the prices are always cheap! I LOVE this website. I always find the best deals there.
Booking.com – I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t already familiar with Booking.com. It is one of the most famous hotel booking sites out there, and for good reason. This website is either a hit or a miss because of its popularity, but they often have good deals on different hotels, apartments, and even hostels going on.
AirBnb – If you are not a huge fan of hotels, or if you are trying to save more money, you can book an AirBnb. I booked an AirBnb while visiting Prague and Romania, and had a lovely experience. You can find really great deals on apartments and houses just about anywhere.
3. How To Save Money While Planning Your Trip
Two words – ATTRACTIONS PASS
What is An Attractions Pass?
An attractions pass is essentially what it sounds like. You can often save money by purchasing a single pass that will get you access to a variety of attractions in the city of your choice. The best part is that the price you pay for the ticket is much cheaper than buying an entrance ticket for each attraction separately.
How does it work?
You buy a pass that includes entrances to a variety of attractions around the city. The attraction card has two options:
First option – Choosing a certain number of attractions you want to visit (2,3,4,5,6,7,10 or 12 attractions from the list). The pass is valid for 30 days from purchase, so you can buy it in advance from home, and save unnecessary hassles while on vacation.
Second option – Choosing a number of days (1,2,3,4,5,6,7 or 10 days) where you have an unlimited number of attractions!
In addition to this, there are cities that give you unlimited tourist bus rides, or even free public transport in the city if you go the attractions pass route. This is another huge money saver since public transport trips can really add up while running all over the city.
Recommended attraction passes:
– For more attractions passes click here.
4. How To Travel When You Don’t Have The Time To Plan Anything
I want to introduce you to Trova Trip. Trova Trip provides curated group travels, and provides all the planning, transportation, and amazing local guides to guide you on your trip.
What makes this company stand out from other travel companies is that they offer customizable trips for great prices. They customize the trip according to your perfernces and pair you up with other like-minded travelers that have a similar mindset as you. How cool is that?
You can choose from a wide range of beautiful, amazing destinations and they will tailor an authentic 10-day trip for you. Also, the groups are pretty small, normally having about 8-20 people per group.
Trova Trip chooses very authentic local guides who can provide you a very authentic tour of the destination you choose to visit, give you a local point of view on the place, and provide some great insider tips!
You can also purchase a Trova Pass for $99 a month at a year-long subscription rate, or $198 a month for a 6 month subscription rate. Though this one is a bit on the expensive side, if you factor in the amount of time it takes to plan a trip, and instead use that time to get paid at your job while Trova Trip plans for you, it could be a very worthwhile investment. To find out more about Trova Trips, click here.
5. Basic Things To Do When Traveling On A Budget
Use a travel reward credit card.
If you enjoy traveling, and want to help yourself get closer to that subsidized trip, a credit card with travel rewards is a MUST.
You can get travel points from all sorts of everyday purchases such as buying groceries, filling up your gas tank, paying your bills, shopping – any daily activity you do. Pay these errands with your travel rewards credit card and collect points that will help you earn free travels, achieving elite member status with hotels and airlines, among other travel rewards.
Using cash is one of the best ways to save money while traveling. What I like to do is bring cash with me and take a credit card just incase of an emergency.
This way, I make sure to restrict myself to travel on a budget by planning my daily allowance of spending each day. This is one of the best ways to avoid exceeding your budget.
Eat out less.
One of the biggest expenses we make as travelers is throwing out money on expensive food and drinks.
How are we supposed to save money here? Just not eat??
– Set goals for yourself, such only eating out for one of your meals each day.
– For the other two meals, and for snacks during the day, go to a local supermarket and buy some goodies like ingredients for sandwiches, some fruit, or even something to cook back at your hostel.
I did this while visiting Prague last April, and it was a huge money saver.
Search for free things to do!
Find free things to do in the destination you are staying at. This could be something such as visiting a local museum on a day that tickets are free, or heading off for a hike.
Just search online for your specific destination to find out what things you could do free of charge.
Try flying off-season.
Usually, when flying off-season, the prices for flights, hotels and attractions will go down.
This doesn’t mean that you have to go freeze to death in the winter of your chosen destination to get a good vacation price, but, let’s say, you could visit Europe during September, instead of in August [when it’s the most crowded during the middle of tourist season].
Use your student ID.
If you are a student, well, lucky you! Most attractions, and sometimes even restaurants, will offer discounts for students. If you don’t know if the place you’re at gives a student discount, just ask! You’ve got nothing to lose.
Pack a reusable water bottle.
One of the most money wasting things we do while traveling is getting parched and then buying drink after drink during the day while we’re out and about.
Instead of throwing out cash, just pack a reusable water bottle. This way, you can be eco-friendly AND save your money. It’s a win-win.
Use public transportation instead of taxis.
I don’t like to use taxis while traveling. This is because, often times, they can take advantage of me being a tourist, and ask for way too much money for the ride than what it should really cost.
This is why I prefer to use either Uber, Lyft or just public transportation – like buses, trains, or the Metro/Subway. Public transportation is usually the cheapest of these options. In addition to this, it gives you a chance to have an insider’s look at the locals’ lifestyles.
I, myself, really enjoyed using Manhattan’s Subway because I got a little taste of the city’s culture.
I hope you enjoyed my tips & tricks on how to travel for cheap, or how I like to call it – traveling more while paying less.