Affordable Travel Tips
I’m a travelbug to say the least. I follow far too many social media pages dedicated to wanderlust. I spend way too much time thinking of my last trip or planning my next. And I love experiencing the food, fashion, and art of every place I visit.
But what’s very important to me when I travel is that I’m not breaking the bank. After all, I’ve still got rent to pay once I get back home!
Here are my top affordable travel tips.
Research! Research! Research!
Before my family and I decide on a travel destination, we always research down to the smallest details. I urge you to do the same in order to avoid racking up unexpected costs. If you don’t follow any other affordable travel tips, swear by this one!
Pre-determine Your Budget (and stick to it)
Once you’ve done a bit of research, it’s time to set your budget. I like to work everything out on an Excel sheet to budget how much we need to put aside per month in order to fund our trip. What’s really important is to include every single possible purchase (down to the mini toothpastes and lotions).
For all you shopaholics out there, remember to put shopping on your budget! I learned this the hard way the first time I visited Los Angeles! Haha!
Once you arrive, don’t splurge or stray from your budget. Have a bit of cash and/or credit for emergencies but try to stay within your means.
Airbnb or Hotel?
Like I said, we always do extensive research before booking any travel accommodations, especially lodging! Almost 9 times out of 10, we find an Airbnb that is cheaper AND better than any hotel in the area.
For example, when my fiancé and I went to Los Angeles this past November, we compared pricing for hotels in the area. Our only criteria was that it had a kitchenette, the rooms were clean, and the hotel was in a safe area. We’re not picky about fanciness of the rooms or even brand name so we were surprised to find the average cost per night was $200 while the Airbnb we booked was $120 per night. Over 6 days, we saved nearly $500 by booking the Airbnb instead of the hotel.
We’ve also done this comparison for Manhattan, New York, Orlando,Florida and Freeport, Bahamas to find that Airbnb is almost always cheaper and comfier.
Airfare is very very tricky. Some people say if you fly on certain days (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays), you’ll get cheaper airfare. Others say it’s the websites you use and how far in advance you shop.
My best advice is to start comparison shopping 7 months in advance; buy tickets 5 months in advance. And be prepared to buy at any moment! You may see a deal that you can’t beat but when you go back to book it the next to day, it’s gone!
Subscribe to all of the email lists you can in order to be the first to hear about special pricing and deals.
My favorite sites for airfare are Chase Ultimate Rewards (for Chase cardmembers only) and/or matrix.itasoftware.com (a matrix that finds the cheapest combination of flights to get an affordable roundtrip).
Car Rental or Public Transit?
I’m telling you now, if you’re under $25, it’s cheaper to use public transit and/or ridesharing apps when you’re traveling.
Every single time we get a rental car (twice in L.A., multiple times to Orlando, and once to Miami), we’ve been charged a $200+ fee for being under the age of 25. This is on top of the car rental fee plus gas plus milage.
Our last visit in L.A., we did the math, and realized it would’ve been MUCH cheaper to Uber everywhere.
Eating out is a major topic for us because we truly are foodies and love exploring local restaurants.
When we travel, we try to follow follow a simple rule to save money: Cook your meals twice a day, eat out once a day. This is why we always search for an Airbnb or hotel with a kitchen/kitchenette.
Of course, you can customize this to your own liking and budget but this method gives you plenty of chances to try local eateries (whether it be for breakfast lunch or dinner).
Free & Cheap Entertainment
Free and/or cheap entertainment is abundant almost everywhere in the world. When we went to Los Angeles, we went to three separate museums that were free and frequented food trucks and restaurants with unbelievably cheap prices and even better food! In the Bahamas, we went to the beach, walked nature trails, and went to the Junkanoo Carnival all for free!
To find free and cheap events, search Eventbrite, Pinterest, and even Instagram for what’s going on the area.
Comment some of your best affordable travel tips! I can’t wait to hear how you travelistas trot the globe while minding your budget!
Felicia aka Ms. Shopaholic Diaries