12 Ways “Regular” People Can Travel on a Budget
Do you ever wonder where some of your well traveled friends find the money to travel all of the time?
Maybe they have a ton of money, but maybe not. You can travel without being ultra wealthy too….
I have always loved to travel and it’s an important part of our Lifestyle around here. But it wasn’t always this way.
I used to think that it was wayyyy to expensive to travel once you settled into the “family life” unless you had tons of money.
I thought that only “certain types” of families could afford to travel further than an in-state campground.
And, I hate to say it, but it’s true. Not everyone can pull this off….
When I say “a certain type”, I don’t mean that you have to be mega wealthy to enjoy a fabulous vacation in a far off country.
The “certain type” that I am referring to is those who plan.
Life is short. If you want to travel than you can if you plan for it.
All you need to do is learn some of the tricks your friends your jet setting friends already know….
( This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you make a qualifying purchase. But rest assured, I never recommend products that I don’t use myself.)
Choosing your destination wisely:
I used to think that traveling locally, or within the United States was less expensive than traveling to other countries. But this isn’t always true.
For instance, I recently wanted to plan a trip to my home state of California from Colorado. Guess what?
An all inclusive trip to Mexico with three round trip flights, food, drinks and airport transportation was less expensive than just the flights and decent lodgings for the same amount of time in the Mojave Desert. That price didn’t include a car rental or food.
So here is a photo of me sitting on the beach…in Playa Del Carmen. (One of the best decisions ever and we cant wait to go back.)
Find the Best Deals:
I like to use Kayak Explore to get an idea of when the best times to travel are and how much it will cost. I don’t book the flights right away but this usually gives me a starting point.
Last year we wanted to go to Ireland or Scotland but figured out how much less expensive it would be to travel to France during September using the Kayak Explore app.
It was on my bucket list and c’est la vie…we went to France and had the marvelous time exploring Paris and the French Countryside.
France is typically a “more expensive” European City. But we planned during the Autumn shoulder season and saved big time.
If you don’t have a particular city that you just “have” to go to than this app is the way to go.
Set Savings Goals:
Once a savvy traveler sets their sights on the destination than they stick to it and figure out flight and lodging costs. You don’t have to make a reservation yet, just get an idea of how much you will need compared to how much you can already swing.
Airline tickets can change quickly so buying those when they are the cheapest is always the best idea. Sign up for price alerts from Priceline or Kayak to stay in the know. They will let you know if you should “buy now” or to hang tight. Simple Google searches can tell you a lot about when the least expensive and “best” times to travel to your destination will be.
Know how much you need to start making plans and the whole process will be easier.
Okay, this one isn’t for everyone, but hear me out. You can make some serious cash renting out your place while you’re gone. And, you can even hire an experienced host in your area to keep an eye on things while you are away.
I have been renting out a portion of my home on Airbnb for five years. And, I no longer have to have a 9-5 because of it. I would scream the benefits of doing this from the rooftops if I could. Use the link above to get started and earn a little extra cash.
I have a unique situation and room to create a locked off space, but anyone can make this work if they want to.
The income from my Airbnb rental has not only paid my mortgage but has also helped pay for trips to Europe, several Las Vegas Adventures, Puerto Rico, Florida, Mexico and tons of local destinations.
Blogging and renting out our space pays our bills and allows us to travel whenever we want using the tricks in this post.
And, before you settle on a hotel or resort, check out Airbnbs lodging options. Staying in a vacation rental rather than a hotel provides some pretty unique experiences and allows you to live like a local for a while. We do this whenever we can.
Sign Up for Travel Alerts
I know you have seen these. Priceline, TripAdvisor and Expedia will all alert you to travel deals. But, don’t forget about joining Facebook Groups and using your Costco membership to score deals on vacation packages.
Yes, your Costco Membership comes with travel package discounts. Take a look and see if there are any that work before booking all of your flight, hotel and car rental reservations separately.
This is a BIG one. Decide what you want to do and see before you go.
Part of the excitement of traveling is getting to plan your vacation. And, this can add up to big savings.
Don’t get caught up making plans once you get to your destinations and falling into tourist traps. For instance, when we landed in Cancun last month there were a barrage of salesmen set up in kiosks in the airport.
They posed as “help desks” and handed out maps and wanted to talk about helping save money during our vacation. They were ticket, tour and timeshare salesmen in disguise. And, they can get pretty aggressive.
I don’t want to discourage anyone anywhere from trying to make a living but we just had to walk away. If you know you want to do certain activities than book them in advance. Not only will you get the best prices but you’ll be able to stick to your budget.
Of course we want to do as much as we can on vacation and see as much as possible but tickets and tours can REALLY add up.
Skip Taxi’s and Use Uber or Local Transport (Think Trains & Buses)
Again, planning your transport from the airport to your hotel before you arrive is pretty important unless you are flying into big local travel destinations like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix or New York.
If that’s the case than make sure you have Uber downloaded onto your phone and use them or the shuttles that hang out in front of the airports for the best prices.
If you are flying into an international destination, find out if your hotel has transportation or make arrangements ahead of time.
Cheaper is not ALWAYS better. When we flew to France we tried to use the train from the airport to our Airbnb and it was a serious mistake.
We got lost because we were all so jet lagged that we could barely follow the directions and it took us hours to find our place. It even caused some (a lot of) discord among us. Lesson learned. We’ll always book transport from now on.
Don’t Over-plan Your Days
I have been guilty of planning so many activities that we didn’t have time to relax. It was also a huge drain on our travel budget.
Make sure you leave enough time to explore on your own and enjoy your trip. Don’t confuse this with planning activities. What I mean is to leave time for strolls on the beach, lunch in the park, people watching and window shopping on the avenues.
Leave some of the days for “down-time” so that you can come back from your vacation feeling somewhat rested and not more stressed out than before you left.
Travel Rewards Programs
Some credit cards can pay off for travel rewards. I am not advocating going into a bunch of debt to earn travel points. Choose cards that offer great rewards and use them as you would normally.
Paying them off each month is always a good idea. Then you are receiving the points and not paying any interest for them.
I like this Chase credit card for travel rewards. You can earn $750 in travel rewards after the first three months. Use the card, pay it off each month and collect your reward. You can choose cash or travel rewards and they make it really simple.
Use Credit Cards without Foreign transaction Fees
The best card for avoiding foreign transaction fees is this AMEX card. You can use it for purchases or at the ATM to avoid fees for exchanging your US Dollars and converting them to pesos, Euros or Pounds Etc.
It also provide some pretty great benefits like a free first checked bag on Delta, priority boarding and discounts on food and drinks. You earn miles for every dollar spent and recieve a bonus of 60,000 miles after you spend $2000 in the first three months.
I got this card because of the free checked bag on Delta ( the most comfortable international flight option in my humble opinion), but they also offer travelers insurance…see the next habit.
Take advantage of Credit Card travelers Insurance
The Amex card I was just telling you about? They also offer car rental insurance if you pay for your reservation with this card…that is very important.
You have to pay for the car rental with this card to receive the benefits. But it saves you doubly because there are no foreign transaction fees ( if international) and the insurance at the rental car counter can really add up.
You will still need to purchase Liability insurance but you can feel confident declining the collision damage. Make sure to read all of the exclusions in the members benefits before you book so you know what types of loss, such as theft and damage are covered.
They also have travel accident insurance. This pays in the event of your accidental death involving planes trains, ships and buses when you use your card to pay the fare during travel. God forbid should you ever need this but it provides some peace of mind for me.
This last one is important and I left it to the last for a reason. This is important. If you can, be flexible about your timing. It’s everything when you are talking about saving money on travel.
I know that it’s tempting to travel during the Summer when the kids are out of school. But it’s also much more expensive. It’s a supply and demand thing. Just look at flights to just about anywhere in the world in June compared to September and you will see what I’m talking about.
Most schools encourage travel and experiences for families. My daughters teachers were thrilled to offer up her assignments when she took two weeks off to go to Europe. Traveling IS education and if you can, teach them about the rest of the world.
I know this wont work for everyone but again…it comes down to priorities. And, giving my tween the gift of learning about how others live in this world is a priority for me.
Cheers and Happy Travels!