The number one question I get from people just starting out traveling and sometimes from seasoned people who’ve traveled a bit and aren’t so new is HOW CAN I TRAVEL ON A BUDGET? Everyone wants to find ways to maximize the experience while saving money. I started traveling 24 years ago. I started where my money would allow. I didn’t make much money but yet decent money with precious little to save or spare. I knew I would get an income tax return annually which was my involuntary savings plan. The amount would vary but I knew for sure I get at least $1000 back so I planned my travel and looked for deals based on that figure. While not a lot of money I knew I could venture to the Caribbean (somewhere that at the time didn’t require a passport … Pre-9-11) and do an ALL-INCLUSIVE with that budget and have a little bit of money to spare. As my money increased so did my budget but this would happen over a span of years.
I’ve compiled my top 10 money saving tips for traveling on a budget while maximizing your travel dollars
- Airbnb, hostels, backpack. – When traveling in groups, with family especially in Europe Airbnb may be the best option. Major hotels have occupancy rules that are strictly enforced. Airbnb type of places and hostels are more economically affordable and allow for more people without incurring the added cost of buying additional rooms. It’s important to note that if you decide to go the hotel route check the hotels FAMILY POLICY in advance. Some may offer a buy 1 get one half off deal or a discounted rate on the additional room.
- Be flexible in your dates.. let travel deals be the driving force. Travel in the off season. – It’s not only common but popular to travel during the summer months and Spring Break BUT these times are what the industry will consider PEAK times of travel which means you will be less likely to find discounts and maximize savings. The better scenario is to travel off peak or in the NON-High seasons when for example children are most likely in school. My kids have a week out almost every 2 months so we maximize and explore travel during those times that aren’t common across the country but rather quasi- unique to our region, hence we can find really good steals and deals for those times. Being flexible and somewhat spontaneous in your schedule can catapult you from 1 vacay a year to 2 due to the amount you’ll have saved on airfare and hotels.
- Shop for discount airfares from carriers like Frontier, Spirit etc. (PROTIP: you can get better pricing than whats offered on the airline website if you buy direct at the ticket counter). This ONLY applies to DISCOUNT carriers. Most all carriers offer discount fares for mileage holders periodically throughout the year as well. Set up notifications for special offers with the carriers to be amongst the first to get emails on these offers.
- Fly in Segments or legs. Ex. ATL -MIA then MIA-MBJ vs ATL-MBJ ( which will be must more expensive. SKIPPLAGGED.com is a great website for shopping for such flight deals. PROTIP: (This only works IF you have carryon baggage so pack light).
- Loyalty has its rewards.
I travel for free at least twice a year just using points from my airline credit cards. The major carriers that I fly the most I have credit cards with. NO, I’m not trying to accumulate credit card debt, instead what I do is just the bare minimum to achieve the lump sum points which usually is driven by making a require spend limit which can be anywhere from $1500-as high as $5000 over 3 months. While that sounds overwhelming it is really easy to achieve by just doing what you normally do with your spending habits. Ex. I pay my cell phone bill, utility bills or maybe purchase a flight or advance travel with the card of choice and pay it off immediately. I then put the card away and likely will never use it again BUT I walk away with the benefit of several thousand mileage points that in most cases can equate to 2 round trip tickets for FREE * credit score comes into play here *
- LayAway that trip. This is becoming a popular way for people to pay over time versus paying lump sums outright. Do your research as always on these companies. I can say I’ve never used any but I’ve heard good stuff about these vendors. Payment plan companies/apps like Klarna ( no credit check) or Airfordable
- Avoid extraneous fees To help minimize pricing the best advice is to travel with carryon vs paying for checked baggage fees. I’d also say get travel insurance ( although its an additional fee that has to be paid upfront) it can save you from losing full fare in the event of an unexpected catastrophe.
- Did You Know…….PayPal gives you up to 6 months to pay off purchases over $100 interest free. The criteria I’m told is to have a pay pal credit account to take advantage of this.
- The NEW TREND. Until recently I had never heard of Couch Surfing but it seems to be quite the “IN” thing. Have you heard of this? Ever utilized it? What are the benefits you’ve experienced? What is it? Couch surfing is essentially where someone gives you a place to stay usually in their home. They are like minded travel centric people who enjoy meeting people from around the world. As a token of appreciation the guest should offer something in kind for the host like maybe cooking or cleaning their home. Home sitting another popular way to see the world for virtually free. The way it works is by setting up a profile on various sites and as people ( usually wealthy) people go away for weeks or months at a time they give you the opportunity to stay in their home while they are way. They get peace of mind that their home is being watched and looked after while you get the reward of an amazing place to stay for a specified period of time for FREE! Pet sitting works very similarly. Last but not least.. search for travelmates/buddies, like minded people that can help fray the expensive or single occupancy surcharges etc. While its great to travel solo it can be slightly costly as well. It’s always nice when you can split the fees. With all these tips use your judgement and discretion. Vet the process and people before proceeding.
- Special offers are great ways to save. Several websites off promo or discounted money saving values on trips. Sites such as groupon vacations or travelzoo offer package deals for single and dbl occupancy trips. This is a great way to take a pre-packaged trip where all the work is done for you. You simply pay and show up. How easy and awesome is that?
Did you find these tips useful? Have you taken advantage of any of these? Share your thoughts and experiences below. Be sure to follow us on Instagram @randmlyrasheeda