Traveling is one of the greatest things a person can do for themselves, in my humble opinion. A trip to lands yet unknown? Oh the foods to eat, the sights to see! Travel enriches the soul and broadens the mind. It awakens ideas and understanding in people that heretofore had lain dormant.
It can also get prohibitively expensive. Especially for low earners out there (like myself) or people who may have special circumstances attached to their journey.
I have done a little traveling myself, but I hunger for more. One of my favorite pastimes is looking up cheap airfare to my dream destinations around the globe.
The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.
– Sir Richard Burton
Through the traveling I have done, I’ve picked up a few tips to keep the budget in check. I definitely learned through trial and error, so learn from my mistakes! I encourage everyone to try and see if they can create a frugal trip for themselves somewhere around the world.
1) Don’t Pay to Stay
When I travel, the single biggest area I save in is my lodging. If you plan it carefully, you may be able to stay for free everywhere you go.
The first stop is, of course, friends and family. If you have family in Paris, hit them up to crash there while you see the city of love. Friends of friends may also get the same treatment. If your bestie knows a good friend from high school who’s living in Istanbul, and you’re trying to get there, ask your friend for an email introduction.
If friends and family don’t come through, there are still other options.
You can try the ever popular CouchSurf route. I couchsurfed a few times myself in my younger years and found it not only a cheap option, but also an infinitely more homey stay. Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway typically offer cheaper accommodations than hotels, too.
You can also try to trade your labor for a free stay at hostels around the globe. These usually require longer stays and the needs of the hostels can vary. You may end up greeting guests or scrubbing toilets. Still, free is free, and it’s a great option for those trying to take a year or more off to see the world!
2) Eat In
I mean, if you’re in Rome, of course you’re going to get a bowl of pasta once or twice. You don’t have to sacrifice the experience of eating food of the country you’re in by any means. Just give up the restaurant experience.
If you’re staying someplace with a kitchen, take advantage. Just as eating at home saves you money when you’re there, it does the same abroad. You can pick up new ingredients and make local cuisine in your rented kitchen.
Paying for three meals out a day for any period of time isn’t sustainable. Limit yourself to eating out only once on your trip, and splurge on that meal. The rest of the time, eat in!
Alternatively, try to find the best local deals around when you do need to eat out. Eating at touristy restaurants is going to be pricey.
3) The Airline Matters
The airline that you choose to fly on really matters. Yes, the price of the ticket matters, but it’s important to think outside just that.
Does this airline offer frequent flyer miles? Can you join the airline’s program to maximize miles earned?
Think about the future, too. Will you fly this airline again, or is this a one time deal? Of course, you should also always pay attention to extra fees: is a carry on free or do you have to pay? Is there a free meal provided for long flights? Are there any hidden fees? Compare and do your research.
4) Time Your Travel
There are certain times of the year when it’s cheaper to travel. Italy is a heck of a lot cheaper to fly to AND to experience in January than it is in July. Avoid peak travel times like the December holidays or the summer months to save serious cash on flights.
Off-season travel will also save you money on the ground. Slow tourist season means better deals for the tourists. In addition to saving your money, being flexible with when you travel can also save you time.
Avoiding peak tourist season means less time waiting in lines for attractions, less time waiting for restaurants, and more time to really relish the country you’re in. With fewer people around, the country may feel more intimate, too.
These savings extend to booking travel as well. It’s been proven that booking on a weekend is more expensive than on a weekday (booking on Tuesdays is usually cheaper). The same goes with when you travel. Avoid traveling on Fridays and opt for Tuesdays or Wednesdays instead to save a little extra cash.
Do you love to travel? What are your trips for seeing the world frugally? Or do you splurge on one crazy trip a year?