Traveling doesn't have to be an expensive adventure! Read on for my best travel tips and get ready to save, save, save!
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #1: Turn a layover into another vacation
Purposefully spend an extra few hours in your layover city and take a tour or visit the one must-see landmark. You'll get 2 countries for the price of one.
Normally layovers are annoying and often necessary evils, but this need not be so. Use layovers to explore two countries for the price of one! 2 years ago I went to Costa Rica with friends to volunteer. Before going to Costa Rica we spent a couple of days in Panama (a neighboring country). Panama was a layover stop on the way to Costa Rica, but my friends and I purposefully extended our stay there to explore the beautiful country and go to the Panama Canal.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #2: Set up fare-watchers
Use sites like http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/ to track flights to your dream locations. This is especially helpful if you’re flexible with your dates and times.
A FREE fare watcher will help you get the best deals at the lowest price. Use sites like http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/. I just got an alert for plane tickets from NJ to Cali for only $268! Now I can go and visit my friend in San Diego next month.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #3: Follow Travel Companies/Airlines on Twitter
Some airlines offer flash deals available only on twitter. Follow your favorites to benefit from their cost saving tweets.
Most companies now realize the importance of a social media presence so if they have a Twitter account make sure to follow as they often tweet about promotions and sales that aren’t advertised elsewhere! An airline that does this well is JetBlue. Under their twitter account, @JetBlueCheeps, they tweet quick flash sales. Last year a friend of mine was able to fly from NY to FL for just $54 one-way!
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 4: Track prices of hotels
Hotel prices fluctuate. Make sure you’re getting the best deal by tracking their rates on sites like www.yapta.com.
Use sites such as www.yapta.com, to watch hotels and track any drops in the prices. This is best when you have more time to book a hotel for your destination. The biggest drop I’ve tracked before was $40 for a hotel in Florida, which on a 5-night stay would save $200!
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #5: Be a guest:
Avoid paying for hotels by traveling to destinations where you have family and friends.
Repay their kindness with a gift. When I travel, I hardly ever stay in hotels. I prefer to travel where I have family and friends. This works two-fold. First, I save money by staying with them. Second, the host provides a “behind the scenes” tour of the destination I’ve traveled to (including all the FREE, fun stuff I’d never know about). I repay my host by grocery shopping and making most meals while there. In this way I save on eating out as well!
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #6: Be a tourist in your hometown/state/region
Try a “stay-cation”. Visit your local tourism office and website for fun things to do near you.
“Familiarity breeds contempt”. Many of us turn our nose up at the amazing things to do located right in our own back yard! Go to your local tourism website and explore and enjoy all the local tourist attractions without spending the big bucks on transportation and lodging.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #7: You CAN use a travel agent
Have a travel agent book the online deal you found.
Afraid to book the amazing deal you found online? No worries. Print it out and asking your agent to do better or match them, then let her book it for you.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 8: Check individual train operator websites
If you’re traveling through Europe via rail, each country’s train system has it own website.
Use them to book your travel and save. This tip is specific for traveling by train in Europe. Before leaving for Europe, a friend of mine was advised to use railgroup.com, however by going to each individual rail site she was able to save easily over $200 on her travels from London to Romania. It can be a little tough, as their sites don’t always translate to English well, however the savings make the effort worthwhile.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #9: Menu please!
Choose the menu option.
This low-cost lunch choice will give you the taste of a country for less. If you travel to Europe and want to eat out, do so during lunch. Many countries have special low cost menus that usually include several courses. A meal like that would be double the price at dinner.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #10: Take almost-free tours
Take advantage of free tours for the cost of a tip for your guide.
In every European country I went to there was a “free” city walking tour available. In all cases my tour guides were funny, informative and gave great recommendations on local restaurants and bars. Now all of these tours were weren’t quite free, as the tour guides weren’t paid and just asked that if we enjoyed ourselves to tip whatever we’d like, but even if you tip $10-$20 you are still getting a bargain on a tour.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #11: Stay in school
Use your school ID to get discounts while traveling.
If you’re traveling to Europe (and many other countries), bring your student ID (expired or not). Students get major discounts on tours, museums and other tourist attractions in many countries.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #12: Gift giving
Local markets have great low-cost souvenir options like coffee, sweets and treats.
Hit up a market and buy local coffee, sweets or treats while on vacay. These low-cost souvenirs will give your family and friends a “taste” of your vacation and cost less than traditional keepsakes.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 13: Set up Google alerts
Plug in your desired destination and the word “deals” into Google alert, to stay updated about travel deals.
You can create a Google alert for any phrase/word so that when it appears on the web, you get an email with the links. Once a Google alert saved a friend of mine about $200. She was looking for a flight from Australia to Hawaii and prices were ranging from $600 - $1000. She had a lot of flexibility on dates so she set up a few alerts with different key words (ie: Australia to Hawaii deals, Australia flight sale), which eventually alerted her to an article regarding a private charter company that was rebranding to create the next budget airline for Australia. It was so new that the airline and prices didn’t come up in any of the flight search engines so she was able to snag promotional airfare of just $400!
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #14: Housesitting
Look after someone’s house in exchange for free lodging.
I bet you weren’t expecting this as a tip for frugal travel! Although I have joined a few housesitting sites, I unfortunately haven’t had luck just yet mostly due to conflicts in dates required. However, I can refer you to a blog written by a couple who has been traveling much of the world saving money on accommodations by house sitting: http://www.hecktictravels.com/. They even have 2 great posts to help you get started: Housesitting 101 and Housesitting 201.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #15: Eat for less
Choose hotels with breakfast included and take some portable food to go and enjoy them as snack later.
If your hotel isn't all-inclusive, make sure that it at least offers a free continental breakfast and is close to a local market. This way you won’t have to worry about buying your first meal and you can cook/make the rest of your meals inexpensively with goods from the market. Bring some portable from of the continental breakfast with you for a snack later on during the day.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #16: Bigger IS better
The bigger the airport the more likely they are to gave flight deals.
Bigger airports mean more competition and more flights. Choose the biggest airport near you to save on ticket prices.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #17: It can pay to be late
Wait to buy your plane ticket. Buying too early means you’ll pay more.
Don't buy your plane tickets too early. Airlines don’t start releasing cheaper seats until 104-29 days (54 days on average), before domestic departures dates. According to the Huffington Post here are the “magic numbers” for booking the cheapest international flights: Europe: 151 days before your flight Asia: 129 days before your flight The Caribbean: 101 days before your flight Mexico: 89 days before your flight Latin America: 80 days before your flight
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 18 Pack Lightly
Avoid baggage fees by only bringing a book bag as your personal item and the largest carry-on allowed.
With airlines now charging for every possible fee they can think of, checked baggage is a bit of a luxury for those of us on a budget. The solution is to pack light! Try rolling your clothing, rather than folding, using space saver bags and making sure there are affordable laundry facilities nearby to where you’re staying if you plan to be away for an extended amount of time.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #19: Be flexible
Be flexible about your dates and times in order to get the best travel deals.
Flexibility is the main key to scoring cheap tickets. The more flexible you are about the days and times for travel, the more likely you’ll be able to score a great deal.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #20: Check individual sites
Check individual airline sites for flight deals as well.
Travel sites that aggregate deals from multiple airlines are great, but don’t forget to check low cost airlines individual sites. They are often not quoted on those group sites.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 21: Short-term apartment rentals
Rent someone’s home for less than the cost of a hotel.
Begin your search here: www.homeaway.com and www.airbnb.com. Using sites like this has saved me A LOT of money. I usually chose places that have a kitchen so I can save even more by cooking. Also, sometimes use of laundry machines and internet were included in the price. In more than one instance the owners have taken me to the airport at no additional cost.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 22: Sign up for local deal sites
Sign up for the local deal site such as www.Groupon.com and www.Livingsocial.com. On these sites you’ll find amazing trips for up to 75% off as well as discounts on fun things to do when you get there. I was able to get a whale-watching excursion in San Diego for 50% off using this method.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #23: The best time to buy
The best day to buy domestic airline tickets is Tuesday.
For airline tickets, the best time to shop for travel (domestically), is Tuesday until Thursday. Why Tuesday? According to Peter Greenberg, CBS News' travel editor, most low airfares seem to appear between Sunday night and Monday night. And then, when people book those fares, they have 24 hours in which to purchase them. At midnight Tuesday, all the discount fares that weren’t purchased come flooding back into the airline’s computer systems.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #24: The cheapest days and times to travel
The cheapest day to fly is Wednesday and the 1st flight is the cheapest time.
According www.farecompare.com, the cheapest day to fly is Wednesday for domestic travel. "The day with the most seats is likely to have better supply, and thus ... more empty seats that require discounting to fill the plane—meaning they have to release more seats at their cheapest price point," according to the website. Other low-cost days to fly are Tuesday and Saturday. Friday and Sunday are the most expensive. The 1st flight in the morning is the cheapest time to fly. Next best times are flights during or directly after lunch & dinner hour.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips # 25: credit card promotions
Use your credit card rewards to get travel discounts.
Many credit cards will offer you thousands of travel miles when you sign-up! This isn’t for everyone, but doing this gave me a few free flights with one being first class! If signing up for a new credit card isn’t appealing, login to your current credit card accounts and check out any rewards offers. For example, if you go through the Discovercard.com site to hotels.com and use your Discover card for the purchase you get a % in cash back. Make sure that you’re signed-up for the rewards program on each of your current cards too. Some cards don’t automatically sign you up unless you request it. If you’re interested in learning how to work your credit cards for cheaper travel a great resource for me has been http://thepointsguy.com.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #26: My favorite deal sites
My top favorite, travel deal sites:
Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/
Gate 1 Travel: http://www.gate1travel.com/
Google Flights: https://www.google.com/flights/
Skypicker: https://skypicker.com/ (similar to Google Flights)
The Flight Deal:http://www.theflightdeal.com/
European Destinations: http://www.europeandestinations.com/
Vacation Express: http://www.vacationexpress.com/
ITA Matrix: https://matrix.itasoftware.com/
Here's a beginner's guide on how to use the ITA Matrix (you're welcome) : https://upgradedpoints.com/ita-matrix-the-ultimate-cheap-airline-tickets-search-tool/
Pack snacks for your trip and save on munching while away.
Wherever you are, wherever you are going, BRING SNACKS. Packing and having something easy to munch on liketrail mix and fruit snacks, is a great to save. They will help you avoid buying unnecessary food in between meals while traveling. I always stock up of easy-to-carry eats before leaving on a trip. Snacks are work their weight in gold.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #28: Give up your seat
Earn travel credit by volunteering your seat on a full flight.
If your travel times are flexible, consider giving up your seat on a full flight. I’ve given up my seat twice in a row on a particularly busy travel day for the airline and earned $225 the first time, $500 the second time and a $12 food voucher while I waited. That’s $737 to arrive a few hours earlier than I originally anticipated.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #29: Become a member
Before booking a flight, hotel or renting a car, make sure you’re a rewards member and use your member number to earn points.
This may seem kind of obvious, but sign-up for every single travel rewards program offered to you. Before booking a flight, hotel or renting a car, make sure you’re a rewards member and use your member number to earn points. So many people believe that they don’t travel enough to warrant signing-up, but it’s free and you’re leaving money on the table if your don’t.
The Budgetnista's Best Travel Tips #30: Exchange at home
Exchange your money at your bank before your trip for a better rate and less fees than the airport.
Before traveling overseas, contact your bank about exchanging your U.S. dollar for foreign currency. Some banks will order money for you for a much better rate and lower fees than what you’ll get at the airport. Avoid exchanging at the airport at all costs. The rates are terrible and the fees are high. The more exotic your location, the more time you’ll need to give your bank to order your money.
I hope these tips help you plan your next frugal, fabulous adventure!
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