We love to travel, but that means we need to do it budget friendly in order to keep our wanderlust habit in full effect. Sure, we could drop a few mortgage payments on a once in a lifetime trip, but then we will be living in our Jeep and that is a tight squeeze with Audrey, and Kingston. While we have been known to splurge (coughKabulcashcough) here are a few of our favorite trip tips to keep costs down.
Booking your Flight
There are dozens of internet sites you can search to find and buy flights but I have a few favorites that have always been successful. I read once that flights are cheaper to buy on a Tuesday and that always sticks with me when I am searching for flights.
Do your research. I use the Hopper app on my phone for flights I take frequently (LAX to EWR) it tells me when flight prices dip so I can ‘hop’ on over and buy a ticket.
Skyscanner, Google Flights, and Kayak are my favorite sites to buy from. I have heard horror stories from people getting booted from flights using all of the above because they are considered “discounted” tickets, but I haven’t had any issues and quite frankly I am too cheap to buy a ticket from the airline.
Price out a one way ticket, then price a round trip. Sometimes booking two separate flights is cheaper. Layovers are cheaper as well, but I always try to avoid stopping if at all possible.
Red eye flights (overnight flights) are your bestie (unless you are traveling with Audrey, then they are your enemy).
Pack in a Carry-On
You don’t need to pack as many clothes as you think you do. Think of your last trip. Did you return home with at least three outfits you didn’t wear? Everyone does, so learn to pack less.
Baggage fees are ridiculous, avoid them by packing a carry-on.
You don’t have to worry about losing your luggage or something being stolen if it is with you the entire time
Buy essentials at your destination. You don’t need to lug around shampoo, soap, and lotion. Most likely it will be free at your lodging and if it isn’t then buy it upon arrival.
After flying for 10 hours the last thing you want to do is stand at the baggage carousel and wait for your luggage, am I right? Skip that step and wave to all the over-packers as your skip out the door and into your Uber.
Stay in Airbnb
Now hear me out on this one. We love five star hotels with all the amenities, if they deliver a fruity drink to me poolside that is even better but, economically it doesn’t always make sense. We’ve learned that Airbnb is a great site to use for lodging in places that hotels cost an arm and a leg. Europe is a fantastic place to utilize Airbnb. You can book an entire apartment, get a feel of how the locals live, and often have use of a washer/dryer and kitchen. They also come in handy if you are traveling with kiddos, more space and privacy. If you are going to a destination to explore more than relax then staying in an Airbnb might be up your alley. If you are going to a beachy destination, sans children, and plan to eat and drink your problems away then go the all inclusive route.
Pet peeve #47 of mine is when people travel and eat at chain restaurants. I bet they are the same people who microwave chicken nuggets instead of putting them in the oven. You didn’t travel to eat the same combo meal you order from Chik-Fil-A at home.
Local food is normally cheaper and tastes so much better.
You can’t beat the authenticity. Pad Thai in Thailand is magical. Ribs in Nashville are divine. Falafel in Jerusalem, yes please! If you scrimped and saved to get to your destination, why would you want to eat the palate of back home?
Yelp works pretty much everywhere so check reviews and get feel for where the locals go.
Check out local markets and street food. You can grab lunch on the go to maximize your time and dime.
Prioritize What You Do
After picking your destination start researching on what that particular destination has to offer. What are your top 3-4 things you want to do there? Check out TripAdvisor for unbiased reviews.
Check local Facebook/ Instagram pages for coupons and discounts
Weekday prices are cheaper and less crowded than the weekend. Pick your number 1 attraction and try to go there during the week when it will be cheaper.
We love Lonely Planet books which often give walking tours of the city you’re visiting. Put on your walking shoes and get out and explore!
Many large cities offer hop on hop off buses, which are a great way to navigate a city at a low cost.
Convert money to local currency at the airport upon arrival. We normally hit an ATM in the airport and get out cash. Chances are things will be cheaper if you use cash and use local currency.