This time Thursday, Chubbs and I will be on a flight to Punta Canta for the Labor Day Holiday. This not the first vacation we’ve taking this year and it definitely is not the last. We spent New Years in Australia, Memorial weekend in Vegas, a long weekend in Ojai Valley, CA and took individual trips to Nashville and Raliegh. After Punta Cana, Jeff has a guys trip planned for Vegas and I’ll be going somewhere in Texas. And for the kicker, we both have plans to spend the holidays in South America – although we haven’t confirmed the locations (most likely Argentina and Brazil).
I’m not going to lie – all of this travel can get really, really expensive, but with enough planning and research, you can definitely minimize your expensives. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.
- Before you even select a location you should determine your budget. This should take into consideration everything – flights, accommodations, ground transportation, food & drink and activities. Its the touristy things that you don’t plan for that end up biting you in the but later. Once you’ve determined and committed to your budget, you can select a destination.
- Be flexible. Determine a range of times you can depart and return. Red-eye flights and those during business hours tend to cost less money.
- Consider all local/regional airports. When we travel, we check prices from JFK, LaGuardia, Newark and even Philly. Ground transportation to these airports is comparable ($20/person) so if you’re saving $100 on airfare its worth it.
- Search the promotions. Some people might think of them as scams or a waste of time, but airline special offers can have great bargains. Airlines offer these deals when they are trying to move unsold seats.
- Sign up for a credit card that awards frequent flier miles by the amount of money you spend. Those purchases turn into miles quickly. But try to go with card that has bank sponsored rewards, this will give you tons more options.
- Stay in a nearby town or neighborhood. Certain areas are tourist hot spots and can upcharge you loads on accommodations. If you don’t mind staying 15 minutes to get to the area, you can save a fortune.
- Room exchanges. Jeff and I love these. When we travel abroad we use sites like Room-a-rama, AirBnB and Craigslist. You may not have all the same ammenities of a hotel, but its much cozier and you avoid hidden charges.
- Sublease your place. Jeff and I are infamous for subleasing our room. As soon as we decide on travel dates, we post our room to the sites above. Not only are we able to cover our rent, we often make a prophet.
- Consider hostels. When travelling internationally its easy to find good quality, affordable hostels. I am actually a little bit of a diva when it comes to accommodations, so we often opt to stay in a hostel part of our stay and upgrade to a real hotel later. Instead of spending $500+ for a weeks stay, we spend half that.
- Subscribe to Hotel Newsletters. Is there a chain you particularly like? Subscribe to their newsletter – you can limit the frequency by managing your profile and you’ll get great deals on locations you actually want to travel to. While you’re at it be sure to sign up for their rewards programs.
- Book through sample sales – RueLaLa, Gilt and others offer great deals. I booked our resort for a wedding and saved over $250. In addition, I got a $25 reward when a friend purchased a similar deal.
- Use Hotels.com. I am convinced that they have some of the best deals. Plus there rewards program really is a great one. Book 10 times and you get a voucher for $140. Jeff’s using that for his boys trip to Vegas.
- Plan Your Meals. If you’re a foodie like us, planning your meals ahead is necessary. You will find great local cuisine, and also more affordable options. If there is a upscale restaurant you are dying to try, plan around it. Let that be a splurge, but look for more affordable breakfast and lunch options.
- Cook for Yourself. If you’ve rented a home rather than a hotel, cooking on vacation can be a blast. Go to local markets and try new ingredients, check out local grocers for breakfast and lunch staples.
- Avoid Breakfast from the Hotels. If you’re hotel doesn’t offer free breakfast, than pass it up. Most hotel breakfasts are astronomically priced for mediocre food. There’s a good chance that a nearby coffee shop offering breakfast is just around the corner.
- Talk to the locals. While its easy to find reviews on the internet, there are always hidden gems with each place you visit. Ask local residents for their recommendations.
- Guidebooks. Before you spend money on an expensive guidebooks, do your research online. Its easy to see which company has more robust travel tips. You will also have a better idea of what you want to do when travelling. There may be books that target exactly that. Once you have more information, go ahead and purchase your book – it will be a life-savior when travelling internationally.
That concludes my tips for the day, but there are many, many more where that came from. So if you have questions or requests shoot me an email.
Brown bag challenge
And now for what you’ve all been waiting for – my brown bag challenge. My challenge for the rest of the year is to pack lunch every day with the exception of client meetings (which is no cost to me so essentially equal to packing). So far its been a success and I’ve saved $50 since last Tuesday.
Homemade Naan with melty mozzerlla. The highlight of yesterdays lunch.
Thursday (eating in the car after the looooooooooongest client meeting ever)
Whew that’s a lot of salads. Jeff recently asked me if I really like eating salads – he despises raw veggies and if it weren’t obvious by this post, let me say it now. I LOVE salads.
What are your tips for travelling on a budget?