Budget Travel

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budget-travel-piggy-bankMost individuals want to travel but think a large global trip is out of there league. Not true! We’ve composed a list of some key tips to use to enhance and maximize your next trip.

1. Book Shrewd.  Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, TheFlightDeal, TravelZoo, CheapAir & AirFareWatchdog are all great search engines for best deals on travel fare. It is highly recommended to cheap fares on one of these company sites and then place a bid for 50% of the current airfare on Priceline – especially of you are flexible with days, times and connections. However, note – airline prices are fickle and change drastically. Wednesdays at 1 am are identified as the best day/time of the week to score cheap fares. Also, if you keep searching for the same flight from your computer, it is extremely wise to delete the cookies. The website remembers you were searching for a flight and very often will raise the cost to force you to consider buying (in fear of future increases.) Another well-kept secret is that Apple/Mac users tend to be shown fares higher than someone using a PC to search for a flight. It is assumed that Mac owners (who’ve clearly paid for a costly computer) are generally more willing to pay for slightly higher airfare. (Oouch!)

2. Take a Long Layover. Research layover rules for different airlines. Most folks dread the thought of layovers but they are missing out! Not only are layovers often cheaper, some major airlines (like Air Emirates) will provide free hotel accommodations, transfers and meals given a lengthy layover! If you purposely select a long layover, chances are, you may get to experience a new city for FREE! (Also pay attention to which countries will require a visa for you to leave the airport and be in their city.)

3. Pack Smart & Light. Read your airline policies very carefully but pack light anyway. Why pay to check your luggage if you don’t really have to? Note that some airlines have different luggage allowances for domestic and international travel. Thus what might be ok when you leave your international destination, may not be allowed once you are at local connection in the US. Also, some airlines have different measurements/weight criteria for carry-on luggage. Don’t get caught out there having to pay to check in a carry on that has always been allowed within the US but is now seemingly too large to travel in another region. [I once saw a young woman deplane an Easyjet aircraft in Barcelona (a local airline with every limiting luggage allowances). While on a transfer van to get to the main airport terminal, I saw her remove about 6 layers of clothing from a large canvas backpack. No exaggeration.] Another great piece of advice is to carry small packets of Tide/Woolite so that you can wash articles of clothing on long trips. This way, you can pack lighter by carrying fewer items on clothing.

3. Hit the Pavement. Obtain subway/train maps from online if you can and familiarize yourself with the area you are visiting and the names of some stops. If you know exactly what you’d want to visit, plan your route in advance before you get to your destination. From experience, purchasing All-Day train/bus passes give you the most bang for your buck.  Also, use free tours! In many countries, there are free tour services available. Just google them. Hearplanet is also a great Iphone/Android app that you can download to provide free talking tours. Hence – you do not even have to pay money to learn about a new city you are in. =)

5. Stay for Cheap. Trip Advisor will offer the most valuable information on accommodations as well as Hotels.com. Folks leave extremely valuable feedback there about their experiences. Also, always select a hotel with free wifi & free breakfast! If you’re more adventurous, Craigslist and Airbnb can provide options to stay in the private homes of folks who are away or who have extra bedrooms to rent. You can also Couchsurf. Yes – It sounds a little scary, but many people actually do it. The website at Couchsurfing provides listings of homes/places where people will let you sleep on their couch for free!

6. Stretch Your Pocket $.  If you are traveling to a foreign country, it is important that you do your homework and know what the currency exchange rate it. If it is a country where their money is of higher value than the US dollar, you might want to spend some time checking in advance (maybe even months before you actually book). Plan your travel (weather still being a top consideration of course) to visit that country during a time when you will get the most bang for your buck. Having more money to use when you travel obviously increases the quality of your experience while abroad. Cha-Ching!

7. 2X Passport Perks. Many countries require hefty visa fees if you are traveling from the U.S. It’s apparently reciprocity – for the large fees many international visitors have to pay to visit here. If you were born outside of the country and can apply for dual citizenship, do it asap! You will then be a holder of two passports, the second which you can use to avoid those visa fees.

8. Log Local Miles. Many local airlines can actually provide super cheap fare to travel to neighboring countries or within that same nation. In the Caribbean, you can fly with Liat. In Europe, RyanAir & Easy Jet commonly sell airfare for $10+ (or sometimes less!) No – we’re not kidding. At all.

9. Groupon Away. 

There are numerous cool activities waiting for you to pounce listed on platforms like Groupon or Living Social. We often tend to use these within our home cities – but whoever said you can’t capitalize when you travel? Chances are, you’ll save a ton of money on activities like boat cruises, kayaking, walking/Segway tours and dining as well. If you use apps, simply switch your city/location to your destination.  Start research in advance to see what is available – just in case a great deal disappears by the time the actual trip coms around. Of course – only purchase activities in advance if you are absolutely sure you can follow through.

10. Join a Network. Aside from these key tips, there’s no better way to learn about affordable travel than to network with like-minded individuals. Just google one!

We hope these tips were helpful and sparked some genuine excitement to move forward with planning an adventure. Happy planning all!