In 2019, around 1.4 billion of us traveled abroad for leisure, spending a staggering 1.7 trillion US dollars. A wise man once said that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. I agree entirely, so, in the spirit of this sentiment, I’ve put together my 10 top tips for seeing the world without it costing the Earth.
Come Fly With Me
The biggest financial obstacle when it comes to travel is the cost of flights. While there’s no doubt that the price of air travel is dropping, particularly with the advent of budget airlines, this is still a significant part of any travel budget. For that reason, I decided to look at ways of taking to the skies at rock bottom prices.
If you’re not yet aware of Easyjet’s Flexi fares, here’s the lowdown. Whenever you choose to book a flight with Easyjet, they will give you the option of showing the Flexi Fares which are available for your trip.
Although you pay a little bit extra, Flexi Fares bag you a free 23kg to put in the hold, speedy boarding, fast track security, and, most importantly, free flight changes. The reason that this is imperative is since it means that you can book a flight at a low price and then change it to another flight at a more pricey time. This can be significantly useful for those looking to avoid sky-high flight prices during school holidays and other peak times.
More miles with Momondo
For those looking for flights to uber-popular destinations such as New York and Dubai, Momondo is a great tool to keep handy. This website gathers data on flight dates and prices and lets you know the cheapest flight – and the most competitive airports to fly from and into. The tool is available online and, also, as an app – so you can take it with you wherever you may roam.
Remove cookies to get cleared for takeoff.
Final destination – or not
It’s possible to get your hands on cheaper flights by using what is known as ‘hidden city ticketing.’ This technique works by booking a trip with a ‘stopover’ which is your desired destination. For example, you’re looking for a flight from New York to Chicago – look for a flight from say, New York to Kentucky, which stops over in Chicago. More often than not, this will be cheaper than a straight trip to Chicago as airlines lower prices to take into account the inconvenience of a stopover. Although airlines tend to frown on the practice of hidden city ticketing, it’s perfectly legal – and can save you a bundle.
Cheap flights are great. There’s only one thing better than cheap flights – and that’s free flights! Although these are few and far between, they’re not impossible to get hold of. A quick and easy method to get a free flight is to get hold of an airline credit card. I’m not encouraging you to get a credit card if you can’t afford to do so but, if you can – and your credit is healthy, this is an excellent way of getting the odd free flight. Most airline credit cards offer rewards to their customers in the shape of free and discounted flights. Although you may have to be patient, if you let me your points on the card build up, you can bag yourself the occasional free trip. As well as rewards, many of these cards offer a signup bonus, which can include free travel.
Stay ahead of the game.
Once you’ve locked down your transportation, you’ll be looking to work the room. As with flights, there are a few ways of finding a bit of wiggle room on price when it comes to booking hotels. When you look for a hotel, keep in mind the fact that the star system isn’t always accurate.
Often, a hotel with only two or three stars will still offer excellent service and a lovely room as the stars generally refer to the amenities offered. Maybe the hotel doesn’t have a gym or sauna, but if you can live without those, you may be able to get a valuable deal with a lower star rating. You can start by signing up for a reward scheme. Hotels.com runs a worthwhile program whereby members get cheap and free hotel rooms plus lots of other deals. If you use a particular hotel chain regularly, it’s always worth signing up to that chain’s member program to get regular rewards. In addition to rewards schemes, you can try the following:
One man’s loss is another man’s gain
It’s a fact of life that plans sometimes change – and that includes hotel bookings. Before booking a room the traditional way, check out Roomer to see what’s available in your destination city or town. Roomer offers a reduced price for rooms which have been canceled last minute and, so, can make a massive impact on your travel budget, mainly if your trip is multi-destination.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get
Although this one may not always work, it’s certainly worth a try. Once you’ve chosen your hotel and checked out the prices online (always try the hotel’s site as well as booking sites as prices can vary), try reaching out. Call up the hotel’s customer service desk and ask if they have any special offers that you can take advantage of. In many cases, they’ll simply repeat the promotions that you’ve already seen online, in which case you’ve lost nothing more than the price of a call. However, if bookings are low, they may just offer you a reduced rate to seal the deal. Where possible, try to research the name of the leading booking employee – the personal approach often goes a long way. They say that the primary goal of restaurant owners is to ‘get bums on seats.’ In a similar vein, hotel owners are looking to get ‘heads on beds,’ and so they may be happy to offer a discount.
Narrow your search (engine)
Many people aren’t aware that Google isn’t the only kid on the block when it comes to search engines. A lot of countries have their own booking sites which will offer hotels and B&Bs which may not show up on the ‘Big Boy’ search sites. It’s worth asking around on forums such as Quora and Tripadvisor for the best place for a specific area or; you can try one of these:
Australia & New Zealand
Booking site: Wotif
Budget hotel chains: Formule 1 (chain of AccorHotels)
Booking site: Ctrip, Agoda
Budget hotel chains: 7 Days Inn, Super 8 Hotel, Motel 168.
Budget hotel chains: Motel 1, Formule 1 (part of Accorhotels), EasyHotel
Click with coupon sites.
If you don’t have a particular hotel in mind, sites like Groupon can net you some great deals. Hotels and restaurants regularly run sales through sites like these to super-size their profits during a low quarter or season. In addition to a room, many of the offers on these sites will include an evening meal, saving you even more cash. Another great place for travelers is Jetsetter. Packed full of hotel and dining deals, Jetsetter also offers tips and tricks to help you make the most of your travels – wherever you happen to end up.
Keep costs low and expectations high.
If you’re embarking on long term travel, rather than a short holiday or break, you’ll no doubt be looking to save cash in any way possible. Long term travel is a significant financial commitment in terms of transport, accommodation, and food. Bear in mind, when it comes to long term travel, your biggest asset is those who have gone before. Join as many forums and social media groups as possible to get advice and tips from travelers who have visited your chosen destinations – and don’t forget to leave your suggestions after your return. Although some people want to save for years for a trip, there are a few ways in which you can stretch your budget and get on your way sooner; here’s just a couple:
Staying in hostels or pension hotels can be an excellent way of saving money during your travels and, in some cases, you can even stay for free! A lot of hostels offer a work exchange whereby you put in a few hours a day on reception or cleaning rooms in exchange for free accommodation. If you have the hours to spare, this is a brilliant way of seeing the world on a budget – and you’ll probably make some new friends too. Although hostel accommodation may not be glamorous, it costs a fraction of the price of a regular hotel room. Most hostels do, however, provide basic but clean bedding, a simple breakfast, and a locker or safe to store your stuff securely. As with any part of your travels, just make sure you and your belongings are kept secure at all times.
A world of difference.
Unless you have a deal-breaker destination, carefully choosing countries to travel to can make a world of difference to your budget. Cities such as Rome, New York, London, and Paris are fabulous – but hugely expensive. Instead, try a town which is a little more off the beaten track for cheaper accommodation, food, and transport. Similarly, different countries have very different costs of living. If you have a budget of around $5000, this will get you a month’s roaming within Western Europe. The same budget, however, would give you five months of adventures in India. If you want to broaden your horizons and see more of what the world has to offer, Asia is for you.
No matter how carefully you budget for travel, there are several expenses that you cannot avoid, such as visas, country taxes, and medication. There are, however, any number of ways in which you can save a little here and there and, these include:
● Take public transport rather than cabs – get yourself an app such as ‘Transit’, which will help you to navigate public transport wherever in the world you may be. If you do need to take cabs, find a local version of Uber to keep costs as low as possible.
● Avoid restaurants, particularly in touristy areas. If the weather’s good, grab food from a store and have a picnic. In colder weather, use an app like Scoutmob to find cheap eats and bargain deals nearby.
● Travel light – Many budget airlines now charge a small fortune to put a bag in the hold. Where possible, stick to hand luggage to keep costs down.
● Shop around for insurance – as you probably know, prices for travel insurance can vary widely depending on where you look. For long term travelers, always check the small print regarding health cover and ask for recommendations for the best deal.
Travel can be incredibly rewarding – but also expensive. Taking the time to research prices and looking out for good deals is time well spent – and means more cash left over for the fun stuff. The one thing you must never scrimp on, however, is safety. Wherever you go, do make sure that you research any issues that you need to be aware of and carry a personal alarm where possible. Happy traveling.