Posted by: Mrs. HSH | January 12, 2012

How to Travel and Not Spend a Crap Load of Money

Another Travel- Related post

Thailand

In my opinion, travel is not a luxury, it is a life necessity. I realize life is full of choices, tradeoffs, responsibilities and other annoying, unromantic notions. Nonetheless, if you want to travel, you do not have to spend a crap load of money to do so. But, if you do want to drop some serious cash, I can tell you how to do that too!

The following are my top travel tips and tricks:

#1 – Planning is key. Although there are deals to be had if you can leave on the fly (check out lastminutetravel if you can), Jon and I have busy work schedules and can’t pick up and leave at the drop of the hat. So, the alternative is to plan far in advance, which we often do. Planning months ahead of time allows you to save money for your upcoming trip and shop around for the best deals, including hunting down the cheapest airline tickets. There are a number of helpful websites that allow you to compare airfares. Kayak is my go-to website for an initial internet airfare search. It allows you to compare multiple travel sites, like Expedia and Travelocity, as well as official airline sites — all at the same time. There are also a number of websites, like itasoftware, that can tell you which days are cheaper to fly and even predict if fares are likely to rise or fall. The New York Times Practical Traveler recently did on article on the best money-saving travel websites. It’s a great resource, listing a whopping 19 great money-saving websites!

Near El Calafate, Argentina

#2 – Sign up for miles programs. Mileage programs have saved us more money than I ever could have imagined. I know it’s hard to believe, but in the last four years, we’ve used miles for two free tickets to Argentina, one to Namibia and one to New Zealand, as well as countless hotel rooms.  Some mileage programs are better than others and it’s best to shop around. Webflyer is an excellent resource for all travel awards programs. It allows you to compare and contrast programs and provides a ton of information. It’s always best to look for programs that offer sign-up deals with instant mileage credit – bringing you that much closer to a free flight.

When I lived on the East Coast and flew on a much more regular basis, I earned a lot of miles from actually flying. However, now I earn miles from a mileage credit card. With every purchase, the miles begin to pile up, with extra miles earned for eating at certain restaurants or shopping at certain locations. Just don’t forget to pay it off every month! Also, when booking flights with miles, I find it helpful to call and talk to a customer service representative. They can offer tips on what dates are available, which routes are open to mileage travel and they generally can save you a lot of time.

Brussels, Belgium

#3 – Explore. If you’re flexible with your destination, consider traveling somewhere off the beaten path. Every January, there is a trove of articles, like this one from Budget Traveler, that list the top budget travel destinations of the year. Some destinations like Egypt might require some gusto (don’t know if the Arab Spring has finally sprung), while others might just be places you’d never really considered, like the Azores or Poland. I hear Greece is pretty cheap these days too!

#4— Consider traveling during the off-season. Springtime in Paris is amazing, as is the fall in the Napa Valley. However, it’s also peak season and will cost you a lot more as compared to other times of year. It’s always cheaper to travel during non-peak periods, avoiding major holidays, including all major school vacations. If you travel in the off-season, you’ll find that flights, hotels and even restaurants can be much cheaper. Plus, you’ll have a more elbow room to explore having managed to avoid the usual throngs of tourists.

Cape Town, South Africa

#5-Consider different types of accommodations & use your discounts…all of them! After cheap airfare, the best way to save money while traveling is to avoid costly hotels. Mileage programs can come in handy here, but there are other ways to save on accommodations. Consider how long you will be staying in one place. Often times it’s cheaper to rent a flat/apartment/house than stay in a hotel for multiple nights in a row. Sites like Wimdu offer access to individual apartment rentals from around the world.

Don’t completely rule out youth hostels either. Not just for students, hostels can provide private, en suite rooms for a fraction of the cost of hotels.  If you opt for a hotel, investigate all your discount options, including AAA , STA (student travel — miss those days!) or AARP discounts (one thing about aging that I’m actually looking forward to). Finally, don’t forget to do your homework. Tripadvisor and SmartTraveler are great resources with tons of reviews and travel tips.

Bon Voyage!

 

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Responses

  1. Interesting reading ! Didn’t know writing was one of your (many) talents. I think I will follow your advice and start planning my own dirt cheap trip to Thailand righ now ! My personnal hint for you : I’m told Belgium is REALLY cheap right now 😉

  2. Awww…thank Matt! Yes, I’m missing la Belgiue too! It’s been over five years! 😦 Maybe I can con Jon into a little European jaunt for New Years next year!

  3. SUHWEET post! Loving this.


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