There are few things in life like travelling… I absolutely love it and if I was independently wealthy I would spend countless hours travelling the globe experiencing new places, people, and cultures. Simply put, travelling makes me happy – so I engage in it as often as I can.
Being that I am not independently wealthy, I must spend countless hours thinking up ways to still travel regularly and not blow my simple budget. Being frugal and satisfying your travel bug do not need to be mutually exclusive – although it may feel that way sometimes. There are creative ways to save money, live frugal, and enjoy amazing vacations. The key of course is to budget for them, but simple tips can make that budget go a long way.
Below are my simple tips I use to do just that and can help stretch your travel budget to the max – so go ahead, travel the globe!
1. Use a Travel Fund
This item truly is a ‘must have’ if you live on a budget and want to travel regularly (or at all). This one simple concept is the reason I can travel and not go into excessive credit card debt. For those with large incomes it may not be needed, but for those on a budget, I recommend setting one up immediately and using it.
If you’re worried about funding one, determine what you can afford and set up an automatic transfer into this fund every time you get paid – then wait until you have enough to travel and use this method instead of credit cards. If you don’t have enough to transfer into this fund – then you may want to rethink travelling altogether or re-examine your budget for what you can cut.
2. Save Money on Airline Tickets
Probably one of your biggest expenses for travelling will be airline tickets. It’s difficult to drastically cut these expenses but there are some simple tips to save you some money…
First, buy your airline tickets in the middle of the week on Tuesday or Wednesday, and by all means avoid purchasing on the weekend when airline tickets are highest. Statistically airline tickets rise in price on the weekend and lower in price during the middle of the week, this of course means that you will get the best deals on Tuesday and Wednesday – so plan accordingly..
Second, don’t forget about discount airlines like south-west, jetblue, and allegiantair. These carriers won’t normally show up on sites like travelocity or expedia, but usually carry lower rates and are very comfortable for travelling. My personal favourite being south-west, of which I can usually travel for less than the cost in gas driving if purchased well in advance.
Third, be aware of the airlines ‘extra’ fees that they so love to hammer us with. The easiest example being checked luggage fees and change fees. Plan ahead by carrying on your luggage and be aware of the large cost to change your flight after permanently booking.
3. Use Last Minute Deals
I routinely get last minute deal packages sent to my email by the airlines and their partners. These have been invaluable for me in regards to saving money – especially on last minute getaways.
A few years back my wife and I took a nice 4 day vacation to Colorado including airfare, hotel, and car rental for under $600. Pretty cheap when comparing it to what it would cost to buy everything together and purchase ahead.
You know, I travelled all over the world, but that trip is one of my most memorable – not only because it was low cost, but because it was spontaneous. Something about spontaneity makes a vacation that much more enjoyable.
4. Make use of Points or Miles
If you travel for work, you probably already make good use of this tool and are loving it. (I’ve taken numerous vacations this way)… But if you don’t travel for work, you can still make good use of this item. It will require a ‘rewards credit card’ and the desire to pay your regular expenses with one. Keep in mind you will have to be prudent and only use the card to make budgeted expenses like gas, groceries, and the cable bill – but if used properly you can quickly rack up points that can be used for cash, airline tickets, or hotels. For example, my personal rewards card which I use for budgeted expenses has 60,00 points in the last 12 months. That’s enough for 2 airline tickets within the US.
5. Avoid Hotels by leasing a Home or Condo when Travelling
A great way to save money while in your desired location is to lease a home or condo instead of paying for that high priced hotel. You will give up the maid and fresh towels, but what you gain in return is a lower priced vacation and much more room.
A great way to find deals on leasing a rental home or condo is VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). There are numerous options to choose from for every location, and the pricing can be very reasonable. Be sure to check it out on your next vacation before buying anything.
6. Make your own Meals
This is another simple option that can many times be overlooked when trying to save money while travelling. When we travel, the first thing I do when getting to our location is hit the supermarket. As a family, we almost always make our own breakfast & lunches in our vacation rental. Going out to eat can be super enjoyable, so I don’t necessarily recommend avoiding this completely – but cutting back to one meal a day, can really stretch your meal budget and still allow you the flexibility to enjoy a meal out!
7. Use Public Transportation where Available
Depending on where you’re travelling, this item could take affect and save you big money. For instance, when we visit New York City we never consider renting a car at all. (same with London & other big cities that have great public transportation). If public transportation is readily available or you can get a shuttle to your destination, consider this option for saving money.
Obviously this won’t work everywhere (especially in the US of A), but it certainly is a great option when travelling overseas, as the majority of overseas locations have outstanding public transportation.