I get it. Traveling can seem expensive if you’re not doing it right. Flights, hotels, transportation, food, and excursions. It can seem intimidating when planning a trip. For some, those separate entities quickly add up, it freaks you down, you shut it down.
Or the best excuse, “not now, but someday I’ll be able to afford it.” And that is where most fantasy escapes go to die. In the “someday pile” that never happens because life will always continue to happen. Cars will need new tires, childcare will always be expensive and, cheap dates, gas, and new winter boots will likely get most of the free money that could have taken you around the world.
I’m here to tell you to quit that
bullshit and start planning the trip of your dreams. Here are four simple tips, I’ve come across to make the journey much more affordable and the memories grand.
Pay attention to when/where and how to book your flight.
I am a slave to google flights —It’s personally my favorite website. There is nothing that gets my adrenaline going more than trying to figure out a route to get to the various locations for the best prices. Figuring out what city will give you the most affordable flights, calculating layovers and other commutes such as train rides, and cabs to lock in the right price. Sometimes, it’s pretty simple. You’re flying internationally?.. find the closest international airport if it’s not in your hometown. Europe? New York airports will be the cheapest. Going to Asia? Take off from Seattle or Portland. According to my great friend Wikipedia, here are the top 10 international airports in the U.S. They are usually the cheapest when flying abroad.
You can find round trip prices for quarter of the cost you may find leaving from your hometown. That’s a simple part of traveling that a lot of people overlook. If you’re somewhere in the middle of America, like I am here in the midwest, check all the surrounding airports within a 300-mile radius to ensure you’re getting the best price. You’d be surprised how a $20 Megabus ticket or train ride to the next big city saves you hundreds of dollars. Less cost for flights, more money for the vacation. Also check into travel deal sites such as Scott’s Cheap Flights, Skyscanner, and Hopper. I personally love Google Flights for the ability to track price cuts and alerts on when to book its lowest fare.
Flight cost Detroit to Thailand $2200
Flight cost Chicago to Thailand $681
Train from Detroit to Chicago $32
Flight Savings– $1500
2. Be flexible.
When deciding on where to go definitely take the tourist seasons into account. Greater demand, higher prices.
To get the best price, and in my opinion, the better vacation, being flexible in the time of year and weekday will give you the best bang for your buck. Planning tropical escape around the holidays will cost notably more than a random excursion in March. And going in March will free up space that would otherwise be occupied by crowds of annoying tourists getting in the way of your epic scenic photos.
If you can, tell your job you need Wednesday- Tuesday off as opposed to Monday-Friday. Flights are much more affordable leaving on a Tuesday or Wednesday than a Friday afternoon. Airlines need you to fill the plane. Lesser demand, lower prices. Easy. From personal experience, I’ve also found Tuesdays and Wednesdays the cheapest day to book internationally.
3. For the love of God stop booking hotels.
I dodge most hotels when traveling. With a world of Airbnb, it’s hard to be contained in a small box with a bed and maybe a microwave. Again, doing some research, get to know the area before you travel and if it’s safe to be out on your own, try to find other accommodations. Airbnb’s are usually half of what hotels costs. And there, you find kitchens, backyards, and probably some sort of a grocery store right around the corner. If booking in advance, luxury, spacious, Airbnbs can be quite attainable. You can relax in a local space where you don’t feel like your wasting your vacation away stuck in a tiny hotel. In a location filled with competition resorts, many Airbnbs step their game up and offer full kitchens, multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, hot tubs, pools, rooftop terraces, amazing views, “instagramable” ambiance etc. For my trip to Tulum, we were faced with options.
5 nights in Tulum, Mexico.
Ahau Tulum “resort type” hotel: $400/night
Luxury, 2 bed/4 bath Airbnb:$100 night
Another option, my favorite, especially for solo traveling, is hostels.
If you plan on spending more time on the go, than relaxing in your room, then save even more money and book a hostel. I’ve stayed in dozens of hostels throughout the world, and while every hostel is a bit different, if you’re someone who prefers traveling being out and about all day, why spend boatloads on a room you’re only partially using? If traveling solo, hostels are great for meeting others like yourself. Because they are shared space, bring a lock, and use the room to get some sleep. It can easily turn that $1000 accommodation bill into $100.
Example: 5 nights Antwerp, Belgium
3-star hotel “Diamond and Pearl”– $105/night.
5-star hostel “Yust” — $25/night
My hostel experience in Belgium met every need a traveler could want and need. Yust, located in Antwerp, is an exceptional hostel equipped with a gym, laundry, cute spacious lounges, free coffee/tea, a restaurant on-site, in-room clean bathrooms, private bunks, and just an overall ambiance that could easily be mistaken as a 5-star hotel. I felt like I was cheating the system only paying $26 per night. And while every hostel certainly doesn’t drip 5-star-ness, you’d be surprised where $25 could get you. If you’re not someone who likes sleeping amongst strangers, private rooms are also an option for a little more.
Every hostel is different though so do your research.
4. Don’t be a fat hoe.
I get it. Traveling to a new place and trying all kinds of enticing dishes seem like a dream. At least to me, it does. But let’s be real, unless you’re budget allows you to eat out for every meal in your hometown, why tf would you do that when you’re traveling. Yelp will influence you to take all of your money without you even realizing it.
Convenience? Perhaps. Saving, hell no.
**unless you’re in a place where the dollar stretches far, like Thailand ok**, but even then save your money**
Find a local store, and plan your meal. A person can easily spend $25 at a restaurant for one meal. Times that by how many times you have to eat, and that can add up very quickly. Grocery stores around the world offer vast food options, and street food is a great way to taste local dishes, cheaply. If you’re in a space where you can turn groceries into cooked meals, even better.
Example: 10 meals in Tokyo, Japan
$25 –restaurant meal
$10– street food
$75 — groceries for the entire week
Savings: upwards $175
Trading in high fees for a consistent meal is where so many go wrong. Stop wasting your money on food that will eventually become waste in your toilet as well. Get enough to eat wherever you chose to dine, but try not to break your bank while doing so.
So there you have it. Here are my top 4 tips on how to travel smart, and save on budget while freeing up money for actual adventures. It seems easy but so many people fail on these simple steps and overspend by hundreds or thousands. You don’t have to be rich to see the world; being smart helps though.