You don’t have to be rich to make travel a priority
You know the types: confident with an oversized backpack, smartly conversing in languages you’ve never heard of and happily updating their Facebook with their latest departure date to yet another country. World travelers are often lusted after and for good reason: They have found a way to fulfill the dream of seeing the world without seeing that scary $0 amount in their bank account.
But just how do they do it?
Even if you’re not planning on taking the post-college voyage route of seeing Europe, chances are, you’d like to travel without spending quite as much of your savings as you typically do. Good news for you: These world travelers have figured out how to make trip planning both memorable and affordable, and they’re willing to give you the goods. Here’s how to save on your next trip, straight from the guidebooks of people who have mastered the delicate, fine art of budget travel:
Spend more time planning
You already know time is money (especially if you’ve hired a handyman, a lawyer, or a psychiatrist) and the same logic applies to traveling. Josh Summers and his wife started touring the world as newlyweds, fell in love with Asia and Europe, and never looked back. These days, they give tips to others on how to make travel more accessible on their blog, Travel China Cheaper. For the Summers duo, taking the hours to carefully detail their trips has been game-changing. “I believe that every hour spent planning a trip directly correlates to savings once you depart. For example, if you can arrange your domestic flights a couple months in advance, it's possible to save hundreds of dollars over doing it once you arrive in the country,” he explains.
Photo courtesy of Amber Brown
Pack as little as possible
Managing partner of Event Host Live, Brian Corsetti, explains that he got into traveling when, in August of 2013, his then-wife confessed she was leaving him to have another man’s baby. This news (obviously) rocked his reality, and in an quest to heal and rebuild his life, he decided to seek therapy via passport stamps: “Straight from the cafe where she told me, I ran. In fact, I drove straight to the airport with nothing but my passport and the clothes on my back and took the next available standby flight out of town. I didn’t expect to wake up in Tokyo, that’s for sure. Nor did I plan to continue traveling to 12 different countries for the next year and a half,” he explained.
It was this experience that shaped the rest of his life and made him into a gutsy world traveler. Though you likely will want to pack more than whatever you’re wearing right now, Corsetti does suggest taking it easy on the suitcase. Not only is it easier on your back, but it will save you in airline fees.
“Become an expert packer with just a carry-on bag.This sometimes involves tightly rolling your clothes and dressing in layers to avoid bringing a second suitcase. If you have to check a bag, always make sure to weigh it before you leave the house,” he explains. “Some airlines charge extra depending on how much your bag weighs, so always make sure to check the rules online. Lastly, stick with the airlines that allow you to check your first bag free. You can save up to $100 if you pack efficiently.
Photo courtesy of Brian Corsetti
Plan your trip in the off-season
It probably seems counterintuitive to visit Belize in August instead of during the dead of winter when you’d do anything for a 70-degree, blue-sky day, but Corsetti suggests consulting your wallet before making a commitment. When you visit a destination that’s super busy one time of year during their offseason, you’ll not only save on your nightly hotel rate, but on airline costs, too. “Everyone wants to skip town during the holidays and spring/summer season. However, you can seriously cut costs if you plan your trip during off-peak times. The airlines hike up the price when they know it's a popular time to fly.
Another word to the wise if you’re being indecisive about booking your flight? The more you search on your computer, the more expensive it gets, according to Corsetti. He suggests you “always clear your internet history after searching for a flight. Travel websites will raise the cost when they see what you're searching for online.”
Consider alternative housing
The most luxe travel experiences are often at hotels, but the most interesting ones that throw you headfirst into the culture and give you some pretty remarkable memories are found elsewhere. Many travel bloggers will choose an Airbnb or a house sitting opportunity over a hotel because of the immersion into the local community that it provides (and of course, the money it saves). In fact, your goal should be to get as close to city center as you can, for as little as you can spend. “One thing to keep in mind when booking a stay using Airbnb or HomeAway is that location is key. The best area to be in is right in the center of a city (such as Paris or London), or if you’re going somewhere tropical, make sure you’re in the downtown area, which is typically the hotel district. This way you’re close to nightlife and food. You’ll probably be in closer proximity to the beach as well if going somewhere tropical,” world traveler and lifestyle blogger, Amber Brown explains.
She used this trick when she visited Cancun last March, in the middle of spring break’s peak season. By booking a luxury villa in the hotel district via Airbnb, she was able to provide housing for four nights for eight people for $145 per person. Compared to local hotel rates that gouge for high-demand weeks, that’s a major savings.
Another option? House sitting. Just as it sounds (and yes, was portrayed in The Holiday by Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore), house-sitting is keeping a careful eye on someone’s place while they’re out of town. James Cave, travel blogger at Portugalist, uses the site TrustedHousesitters, which he estimates has 1,000-plus house-sitting opportunities a day. “In return for walking the dog, feeding the cat, and just keeping things safe and in order, you get to stay for free. It's a fantastic setup for owner, pet, and sitter. The pet doesn't have to go to a kennel, the owners save money on kennel fees, and you get free accommodation for the duration of the house sit,” he explains. “The amount of money saved depends on the location of the house sit and how much a hotel would normally cost in that area. On average, I probably save somewhere between $40–$120 a night.”
Photo courtesy of Kassie Ricci
You might think, I’m already in Europe, I might as well knock out a few countries while I’m here. Though crossing off your bucket list of travel is important, it is often not as cost-effective as moving slowly with your wanderlust. Kassie Ricci, a writer and photographer at The Fly Away Life, has visited 23 countries on three continents, but she’s taken her sweet, budget-friendly time. “Moving around can get expensive, so I prefer to travel slow and spend more time in each destination I visit. When planning my last long-term trip, I stuck to one region of the world instead of traveling to several different continents. This allowed me to not only keep costs low, but to also really get a feel for the local culture,” she explained.
Summers echoes Ricci, adding, “It seems contradictory, but I believe that the slower you travel, the easier it is to travel on a budget. If you're rushed to get from point A to point B, you'll probably spend more money on a plane ticket instead of taking time on a slow train. Also, the more time you spend in a place, the better you get to know it, making it easier to find cheaper places to eat or sleep.”