Is your wallet stopping you from giving in to your wanderlust? Sometimes even the “cheaper” airlines are not that cheap when you start adding up the hidden costs. But I’ve always loved traveling and lately it seems like I’ve been doing more of it. Money wasn’t gonna get in the way of my travel bug!
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Here are some of my tips on how to get away from it all, without breaking the bank.
Booking your flight
I always start by searching Kayak and FareCompare. These sites search through all the airlines to find you the best rate. A friend just introduced me to Hopper, an app that predicts how prices will change and tells you when to buy your tickets. Budget travel is not that hard to find you just have to look for it!
Another rule of thumb is not buying too far out in advance. Wait 45 days or 6 weeks to book your flight. If you book earlier, you’ll miss out on some great deals, but you don’t want to wait too long either. Try to be flexible with your travel dates. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually cheaper to travel on than Fridays and Mondays.
Frequent Flyer Miles
If you don’t already have a frequent flyer number with a preferred airline, get one now. I didn’t have enough miles for a round-trip, but I managed to find a one-way ticket in my price range and booked the second leg of my trip using my miles.
I earn frequent flyer miles through American Airlines by traveling, making purchases using the AAdvantage Citi credit card, and being a member of their AAdvantage Dining Program.
When I go out to eat, I get points based on the dollar amount I spend at participating restaurants. They also sell additional miles at a discounted rate every now and then.
Phone a Friend
Do you happen to know someone in the city you’re planning on visiting? Say a close friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while? Let them know you’re coming to town, ask if they have any recommendations of places to stay, they might recommend you stay with them. If they do and you accept, treat them to dinner as a thank you.
Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals
These days, there are a variety of websites offering discounted accommodations. Honestly, it can be overwhelming if you’re trying to find the best deal. I searched hotel rates on Hotel.com just about every day.
You can snag a good deal on this website, but you won’t know what hotel you’re booking until you actually book it and there’s no refund if you decide to cancel.
I’ve never tried negotiating before, but for this upcoming trip I did and it worked. I emailed a hostess about her AirBnB rental and explained my situation with Hotel.com. I asked what she could do for me.
She lowered her rate for me, so I booked it. Remember while you just want to travel on a budget, most people simply want your business.
Make it a Group Trip!
Another great way to travel is with a group of friends to split the cost. Travel agencies help too, especially for international travel. You don’t hear people using them as often, but they’re still around. However, make sure you’re using a reputable agent.
Do your research by looking up reviews online. A friend of mine was a victim of a scam and was able to get her money back, but not everyone using that agent was as lucky. Also, talk to friends who are well travelled and ask for their advice.
Getting there is half the battle.
Now, you can enjoy your trip and buy all the things you want! Do all your research and talk to friends.
A lot of this knowledge comes from experience, so pick the brains of your friends and co-workers who have some travel experience under their belts. Safe (budget-friendly) travels!
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