I like to go places and see things. Here’s the catch, I am not rich and/or balling. That being said, if I want to go somewhere, I make it happen. I can budget the heck out of a trip, like a boss…and so can you.
Welcome to my self proclaimed ‘Best Darn Guide to Travelling on a Budget’. *insert crowd applause here* Ye be warned: This is not for my bourgeois or overly fancy people. Sometimes I luck up on some pretty fancy things, but for the most part it’s all about enjoying the cities I travel to and not staying in the most swankiest hotel rooms and riding in luxury cars. I’m all about quality and wallet-friendly trips.
Let’s get to it. In my mind I’m a minimalist, so I’ve broken down this guide into four categories. Each one includes tips that work for me. I promise if you follow a little or all of my advice, you’ll be saving money all around the world.
Go ahead, read on!
I’m only going to focus on flying as our means of transportation, just to keep things simple. Let’s have a real moment, actually getting to your destination is where you will probably spend the most money. But I have a few tips for that! I stalk flight prices, even when I’m not going anywhere. Is that weird? Needless to say, I’ve learned a little bit about flight price trends.
My favorite hands down! It gives you so many search options to help find you the cheapest flights. You can visit here or download the app. Check that out.
Skiplagged used to be my go to. You might come across a good deal, just read the fine print. I definitely got bamboozled with this site. Tread with caution.
Just know SkyScanner is bae.
If I had to pick a go to airline, Southwest is it. If you book well in advance, you can get really lucky with this one. Plus, two checked bags fly free and they offer great sales every now and then.
Through my countless hours of flight stalking, I’ve tried to find out when is the best time to buy a ticket. I’ve Googled this, but I’m not convinced that there’s an ideal day to purchase a ticket. But as promised, I have tips that have worked for me:
- Buy your ticket 35-40 days ahead of your trip.
- Sometimes in the wee hours of the morning prices drop…hop on that.
- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday tend to be ideal days to travel.
**Warning: Don’t be quickly lured into low priced, no frills flights. In other words, when you see super low ticket prices check for additional flight fees for things like seat reservation and luggage.**
After booking a flight, the next most expensive cost can come from finding where to lay it down at night. If you are like me, then you travel to experience a new city…not to spend a lot of time in a hotel room. It is nice to treat yourself to a nice, fluffy hotel bed sometimes, but it’s not mandatory. The routes I take to save money on lodging are:
I won’t lie, when I hear hostel, I immediately think of the thriller movie with the same name and that definitely had me shook. But I promise, it’s not that bad. Do your research and read up. Hostels come in many different varieties. I recently found a bed for $15/night in Barcelona via Hostel World. It’s worth giving a try.
If you’re not sold on hostels, try AirBnB. It is heaven set. One of my mottoes for travelling is: Live like a local. AirBnB, makes the city you’re visiting feel more like home. I went to Los Angeles and stayed in a nice set I found through AirBnB…for $70 a night. This was right in the middle of Hollywood AND I was splitting that cost with my sister!
Everybody knows somebody that knows somebody with a good hotel employee discount. I love great deals, I also love cleanliness and quality. Trying to find a hotel that meets all of those standards can easily run your price up. Just ask around for that good hook up.
But honestly, I’m just over hotels.
And just throwing this in there, staying with someone you know is the ultimate win. You get free lodging and an awesome tour guide. And offer to return the favor when you have friends visiting your city.
Pick ’em up and lay ’em down! Use those legs and get to walking. The benefit of this (other than being $free.99) is burning off the calories you’re packing on from all that wonderful food that you will be eating.
Try to incorporate walking with these other budget-friendly options:
Research the city’s public transportation system and check for multiple day or trip passes that save you money, like 5 day passes or 20 rides passes.
Uber/Lyft (and taxis)
I like to keep this on reserve for things like going out at night or travelling longer distances. If you plan it right, you can find a great coupon and get a ride for little to no money.
As far as daily costs, you gotta eat…but that doesn’t mean you have to spend an arm and a leg.
- Breakfast: Some hostels and hotels offer free breakfast. Use it! Hostels and AirBnBs will usually have a kitchen, and you can grab a few items from the grocery store that are quick and cheap to eat in the morning. I recommend taking at least one day to treat yourself to a nice brunch (knock out two meals at once).
- Lunch/Dinner: A good Google or Yelp search should get you in there. Or live like a local and ask around for a good, cheap eat. Surprisingly (well to me), I have lucked up on a couple of Groupons for restaurants. I paid $10 for two people at a Chinese buffet in Dallas before. I’m not a fan of buffets, but it actually wasn’t that bad.
- Find out what the city is known for and capitalize on that. You may be able to visit those places for little to nothing. Take New York for example, I went kayaking at Pier 96, for free (besides the donation I gave), went to a free dance recital in Battery Park, and spent a few hours in Washington Square Park watching the performers and just people watching. That’s pretty dope, right?! Doing your research pays off!
- Walk around and take in the beauty of where you are. Venture into neighborhoods, window shop, prance around. Just enjoy the fact that you are in a new place and that itself is priceless!
- There will be things you want to do that costs money. For that, do your best to find a Groupon or something of the sort and plan your trip around that. So, if you spend 5-7 days in Los Angeles, you can devote two days to go to an attraction. Instead of going to an attraction everyday because it adds up!
Summing it all up: Plan adequately. Live like a local. And don’t fall for the touristy traps!
Now, go out there and do cool ish, while saving money! It’s really all about making memories.
If you’d like to see how I traveled to a particular city and how I budgeted , leave a comment below. Or if you want me to personally help you cut costs, hit me up.