8 Tips for Trips on the Cheap
Jess is a Wanderer's money saving tips. Money is one of the major things that hold people back from buying that ticket and flying to a new destination. I hope this post will help to point you in the right direction and give you some of the tools needed to travel as inexpensively as possible.
1. I often find that with most trips, they can be as expensive or as cheap as you are willing to make them. There are hundreds of websites with recommendations for cheap travel destinations. My personal favourite is Price of Travel. Here you can see cities, countries and continents and the different cost of living per day. The breakdown is superb and covers all manner of things from accommodation to travel and spending money. Rather amazingly, I found that beer in Cambodia was actually cheaper than water!! There are some countries where you will be shocked at how little it costs to visit. Not only that, knowing which countries are branded as being ‘the cheapest’ you can work your itinerary so that you can visit several in one go. This is great for places like South America – you can bounce back from Argentina and Chile like a yoyo. It also makes for great passport decoration!
2. Whenever I’m flying anywhere, I always use Kiwi. You can choose to view prices over a given month and fly on the cheapest day offered. You can also mix and match airlines as well as book directly through the site without paying any extra fees. A win win! Once I’ve found specific flights, I always search through the airline directly in case there is a sale on or to see if I can use my Air Miles for upgrades or even whole flights.On the subject of Air Miles, this can really pay off when finding the perfect flight. I’m a member of Star Alliance as it covers twenty-seven worldwide airlines. There are also credit cards that give Air Miles in exchange for your spending. Virgin Atlantic offers some fantastic rewards programs on their Visa and American Express cards. All the regular spending throughout the year can quickly build up to earn discounted or even free flights! I use Money Supermarket to find these credit card deals.
3. I’m not sure if I should admit it but one of my favourite pastimes is searching for and finding the perfect accommodation. Whether it’s a tree house for a South African safari or a plush London hotel, I love finding a good deal in a beautiful location. Most of my accommodation is reserved through Booking.com. The more places you book, the better deals you are offered. If you receive Booking Genius status you can be entitled to huge discounts on various hotels. You can also get extra bonuses such as late check-out and early check-in at no extra cost.If you’re looking for a less touristy route then Couch Surfing or AirBnB may be for you. These sites offer rooms, sofas or sometimes whole houses for rent (or for free if you're on couch surfing). Often, the host will be more than willing to show you around the area, give you tips for local events and welcome you into their social life. This is another extremely cheap way to find accommodation as you can often find more than just a place to sleep.
4. No matter where you are in the world, there are always plenty of things on offer to keep you entertained. These may be extravagant like helicopter tours or more simple activities such as hiking a local mountain. TripAdvisor has one of the most extensive lists I’ve seen for cheap and free things to do. You can sort according to cost and work your way through everything on offer. There are also real, honest reviews from past visitors so you know exactly what you’re getting in to.One important thing that I learnt almost a little later than I would have liked, was about not jumping straight into an arrangement with a local tour company. Many cities around the world offer free walking tours. These are a great way to support the local community and are sustained through voluntary donations from participants.
5. Local transport does not always mean using the city underground train lines or taking a cab from A to B. Quite often, there are more alternative ways to get around. I was recently in South Africa and we had arranged for an airport shuttle to take us to our hotel. It turns out that the driver was very knowledgeable of the city, had great restaurant recommendations and offered day tours at an agreeable price. It was a fantastic way to see the area with a local. In London, you can take a rickshaw for a unique city tour. Alternatively, take a tuk-tuk around Thailand or hop on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam. These methods of transport may not be conventional but will usually be cheaper than flying or taking a train or bus. Another advantage is that your experience is more personal and you get to know information you may not otherwise have come across. In a bigger city, you can't go wrong with UBER. You'll know the price you should be paying, you'll be able to follow with GPS, definitely cheaper than a regular taxi and you can pay with cash or card.
6. I usually like to book all of my trips independently but I managed to time my trip to Brazil in time with the World Cup so flights and accommodation were exceptionally priced. I called on STA Travel to help out and they managed to save me more than $1000 with my flights. I also had the flexibility to change up to three of my flights for free. This saved a lot of hassle as after sending a few emails, dates were changed and new tickets were issued. It was especially helpful as, if you’re like me, you don’t want to be using up travel days spending time on the phone rearranging your plans.There are plenty of companies out there who offer booking services for both flights and adventures. Round the World Experts also offers similar services. If you’re flexible with your dates, this can be a real money saver as they often have sales on.
7. It’s increasingly surprising how food prices can add up throughout the course of a trip. When at home, you shop for the week and eat homemade meals. Eating out three times a day can be an expensive endeavour. I recommend staying in a hotel which offers breakfast as part of your room. This way, you can stock up in the morning, go without lunch or just grab a quick snack and then have dinner in a local restaurant. When I’m travelling, I avoid chain restaurants that seem to appear in every major city: McDonalds, Hard Rock Café, Dominos and Dunkin’ Donuts. Though quick and easy to get food from, they’re not as cheap as you may imagine. If you’re travelling through Asia, you’ll come across some weird and wonderful food being sold on the roadside. However, there are also plenty of local restaurants selling traditional delicious food for a fraction of the cost of the chains. Even in a city metropolis like New York you can get a bagel and a coffee for less than $5. The perfect snack for any time of the day!
8. One of the most important things you can pack with you on any trip is your positive mental attitude. The added bonus is this doesn’t cost a penny! This allows you to laugh when things don’t quite work out and to stay calm if things seem to be falling apart. When my passport was stolen in Atlanta, Georgia, making light of the situation still enabled us to enjoy the remainder of the trip. A quick visit to the British Embassy in Washington, D.C and we were back on the road again. There are so many companies, websites, tour agencies and travel agents offering sales on flights and activities around the world that if you’re flexible with when you go and what you do, you can really grab yourself a bargain. Some places, such as the Inca Trail, will always be expensive as the demand is high. Other specialist trips such as Inter-Railing offers amazing discounts for youth tickets and during seasonal sales.
I hope that this has provided you with the inspiration necessary for taking the trip you’ve always considered. One of my travel mottos is ‘You can make more money but you can’t make more time’. Seize the opportunity you have today and take that trip you’ve been dreaming of.