Do you ever sit around and dream of places you would love to visit? I do…ALL THE TIME. I feel like once we get home from one trip I am already beginning to think of the next place to go. If you visited my Pinterest page you would see my obsession. (You would also see my obsession with DIY projects, cooking, and party planning) I am definitely a planner but love to have an open schedule. I think I fall more under the category of researcher. I want to know everything I can possible know about a place before I go and visit. Research saves me time and money, two things we never have enough of….
Tips on How to Travel on a Budget
Research is KEY! I have planned trips months in advance and ones where I have a few days to get it together. If you show up to a new place with no clue on how to get around or what to do, it is likely you will spend more money than you are hoping. Things you need to know in advance are transportation tips, best neighborhoods, things to do, and places to eat. The best way to find these things out are from people who have been there and the internet. Of course you can’t believe everything you read on the internet so make sure you have more than one source! Pinterest is definitely my go to when I start my research. On this one site you have first hand experiences from personal blogs as well as travel websites. Also, I will usually start asking friends in person and on Facebook if they have any recommendations.
Credit Card Points
Do not….I REPEAT…Do not use this step if you are not good at living on some kind of budget. You must have the discipline to pay this credit card off every month to not have any interest rate fees. Two years ago we decided to get a credit card that would reward us with travel points. I had been RESEARCHING 🙂 ways to save money on travel and this kept popping up. We took the plunge and it has saved us tons of money! We use our credit card as a debit card. We charge everything to it but we live on a budget and track this budget daily. At the end of the month we pay of our credit card. We do not pay the statement balance. We pay exactly what we charged to the card that month. Our credit card does have a 99 dollar yearly fee but compared to the amount we save on travel it is worth it. I think last year we used our travel points for plane tickets, hotel stays, and car rentals that probably totaled up to at least $600 dollars. Do your research on which credit card would best suit your needs.
- Reward Clubs
Reward clubs that do not require and fees or commitments are great. We use hotels.com to book our hotel stays if we are not using travel points. Once you have 10 hotel night stays you get a free one. This of course takes a little while to accumulate but it does pay off. They also send us discount codes on occasion that we can use when booking. If you are loyal to a certain hotel chain then I would recommend signing up with them to earn rewards.
You can also find reward clubs that have a yearly fee that pay off. Spirit and Frontier have fare clubs that will save you on flights and Frontier even has kids fly free with their fare club that has paid off for us multiple times.
- Fly Cheap and be Flexible
We do not have loyalty to any airline company. Our credit card points allow us to book on any airline. The majority of the time we end up on Spirit but they just end up being the ones with the lowest price. We have also flown Frontier, United, American, and Southwest. Of course Southwest has amazing perks and great staff but you tend to only get a good deal during their sales.
Evaluate your personality and needs while reading this. The cheapest airlines are NO FRILLS. This means you do not get pretzels, large seats, free baggage or free medium sized carry-ons. My family does not need these things. We try to find direct flights and remind ourselves we are only on the plane for 1-3 hours and the actual trip is where we want to spend our money. These airlines also require you to plan ahead. If you are taking baggage you need to pay online in advance. We have gotten really good at packing so we fit everyone’s things into one bag or for shorter trips we fit everything into backpacks and pay no baggage fees. If you can be slightly flexible on your days you will end up with a great deals. We save tons of money doing these things and you can do the same!
Download the app Hopper and Skyscanner to find and monitor flights in order to get the best deals! Hopper will alert you when prices drop and when is the best time to buy. They have now included hotels as well!
Many times when we get the itch to travel we go to Skyscanner and choose explore everywhere. Then you can put in your departure destination and a time frame and it will show affordable places to travel! I can’t tell you how many times we’ve said “oh this place is affordable and we’ve never been there lets go!” If there is a specific place we want to go, I start researching when is the most affordable time to visit.
Lastly, here are a few extra ways to save money that may not work out every time. We try to travel to places where we know people and stay with them. We do not do this every time we travel but it is nice when you can. We also take our own kid gear! We take car seats, strollers, baby carriers, tablets, toys, ect. We do not always need all of these things but if we do we do not rent or repurchase these things at our destination. Next, we put on our maps app to avoid tolls. We do not pay the extra rental car fees for the toll tag or the insurance. When we drove from Miami to Key West, we needed the toll tag so it was worth the fee but in Orlando…totally unnecessary. Also, stay at a hotel that has free breakfast or complimentary happy hour, and no I don’t mean just free drinks. When you travel, food expenses add up so save by eating at the hotel and purchasing snacks from a grocery store for the visit. Finally, we love discounts and bundle pricing! Every where is different and you have to do the research but many times you can save tons of money. City Pass is a great example of a bundle that can save you money if you have the time to use all the coupons.
I have so many more tips that are exclusive to the places we travel and those will come out eventually. I hope this helps you take the leap to travel more often and don’t be afraid it will break the bank every time.