Everyone has something they don’t mind spending money on. Something worth splurging on even. For me that something is travel. I will forego a lot of expenditures to make sure that my gusto for travel is fulfilled.
Back in my younger days I would travel in the absolute cheapest way possible. On a three month road trip around the US a few years back I spent a grand total of zero dollars on lodging expenses. I used couchsurfing.com, pitched my tent, stayed with friends and relatives, and even crashed with some random strangers I met along the way.
Marriage and a real job have slightly shifted my traveling expectations. I’m actually willing to pay for a place to stay now – although of course it has to be cheap. A couple of friends recently went to the Emerald Isle with my wife and I and we had a blast without breaking the bank. Here are a few pointers from our experience.
1. Don’t plan your destination first. This is one of Clark’s main travel tenets and it is definitely one to live by. My wife and I had a discussion with our friends about taking this sweet trip before the inevitable arrival of children. We agreed that we would love to trek to Europe or South America but decided to wait for a deal too good to pass up. We found that deal a few weeks later when a $500 fare to Ireland popped up. This leads to point number 2. Kayak.com/explore is the best place to search for killer deals. You pop in your home city and you’ll see what the prices are to anywhere in the world!
2. Jump on it! While it can be hard to fathom booking a deal as soon as you see it (Where will I stay? What can I do at this destination? Is it worth it?), remember a killer fare won’t last long. If you snooze you will most certainly lose. Once you see the deal, figure out your dates and book that same day.
3. Be willing to travel during the “off – season”. The tourism season had just ended when we reached Ireland, and that ended up being the perfect time. The weather was a little cold, but we enjoyed the benefits of cheaper off – season lodging and smaller crowds. It kind of felt like we were exploring Ireland alone at times which was pretty amazing. It’s true that a lot of airfare deals can be found at seemingly random times, but be adventurous. Off – season travel can be great, especially for your wallet.
4. Sleep on the cheap. Technology has made travel so much easier and cheaper. There are a plethora of options that allow you to book a reasonably priced hotel, home, hostel, B&B, etc. The one we used the most on this trip was airbnb. We were able to stay in some amazing houses with extraordinary views. And while you may not have all the amenities that a hotel can provide, the location, charm, and locals you rent from make up for the difference. I highly recommend this website for the adventurous and price conscious traveler. We also found traditional bed and breakfast’s to be a great option. Big plus – an awesome breakfast waiting for you every morning. Here’s a tip – call ahead and ask about cash discounts because many BNB’s will lower your rate for payment in the local currency. In the end, you’re more likely to remember the people, adventures, and sights you see when traveling. Those overpriced hotels won’t even make the slide show. Don’t waste your dough.
5. Just do it. If you love exploring new places and new cultures, make traveling a priority. Travel doesn’t have to be daunting, expensive, or take extensive planning. If you’re willing to be little adventurous you can travel without breaking the bank. Wandering the globe is a life changing experience!
What are the best travel deals you’ve found? What are some of the coolest places you’ve traveled to?
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Combining your travel post and taking the bus…. I had an international flight last month to take. Instead of flying out of my local airport, Portland Maine, or driving to Boston, I took the bus. Not only did it take $150 off my ticket price, I saved money and hassle not driving to the city. It was so easy that I will never drive to Boston again! For about $40 round trip, I hopped on the spacious and clean bus, that had movies, wifi, and a bathroom. It took me directly to my terminal when I was heading out and on re arrival to Boston, a bus was available every hour to take me back to Maine.
That is awesome. You sound like a money saving genius! Thanks for your comment. One other thing that you saved on is parking your car in the airport lot for all those days you were gone. I hope you had a great trip.
Living in Germany, I’ve been able to score some amazing off season deals on Ryan Air—however, an 8 euro ticket last time turned into 300 when I got the return time wrong, missed my bus to the airport, and assumed I could get onto the next flight with no hassle, like other airlines do. Save money on travel by looking for deals AND TRIPLE CHECK EVERYTHING. Some airlines absolutely count on you screwing something up!
So true Heather. The airlines have become less and less focused on the customer. Fees on top of fees are there to make sure they get every penny out of you they can. Thanks for the tip on knowing the details before you book. Ryan Air is amazingly cheap, but obviously not if you don’t play exactly by the rules.