I love to travel, always have. People I know constantly ask how I am able to travel as much as I do. One of the things people tell me is why they don’t travel. Normally they say it’s too expensive. Facts! The truth is, travel IS expensive. However, travel doesn’t have to break the bank. Over the years I learned a thing or two about traveling cheap. I was in college and grad school when I start traveling on my own so obviously, I was broke. Here are the top money-saving tips I learned so I can continue to travel.
1. A travel credit card
I have the United MileagePluscard. I like it but like anything, there are pros and cons.
Pros: You receive two United Club passes, one free checked bag on United flights, free global entry, one mile per dollar spent, two miles per dollar spent on United.com.
Cons: There is an annual fee of 90, The United passes are great if you can use them, however, United recently implemented a rule that you cannot use your pass unless you are flying with United on that trip. I dislike this rule for several reasons and I’m currently considering different travel cards because of it.
2. Fly to a major city before flying internationally
I love large cities. . . but only to visit. If you’re like me, no worries, you can still take advantage of the flight prices. A flight to your nearest major city can range from 75 to $150. It is not difficult to find a flight from NYC to Europe for $400-$600. Quite the save considering a flight from a city like Charlotte could easily be $1,000. That one change can save you $400. I use Google flights to explore flight prices and destinations. Being flexible with your destination will allow you to get the most bang for your buck.
3. Stay in a private room, with a super-host on Airbnb
Most people like their privacy but consider renting a private room in a house. People shy away from this option because they dislike the idea of sharing space with people they don’t know. To that I say, change your perspective. A bed and breakfast is cute, romantic and it’s exactly like buying a private room. The only interaction I have with other guests is passing in the hallway. At one rental in New Orleans, another guest dropped us off in the French Quarter since it was on her way to work. A private room is also a much cheaper option. This is my go-to when I travel solo. I feel comfort knowing I have someone local to contact quickly in case I need help. Super-hosts are exactly how they sound. I’ve had amazing experiences with the people who have hosted me. A host in Denver picked me up from the train station, and a host in Peru booked my trip to Macchu Picchu and took me to a local market. They helped me translate and even haggled for me.
4. Get more bang for your buck
Take advantage of exchange rates!!!! There are regions of the world that are cheaper than others and this is great for budget travelers. Do you have a tendency to go over budget? Well, what if your money tripled when you went on vacation. Truth is you will probably still go over budget but you will get so much more for your money. The best regions for American currency exchange in South East Asia, South America, and some African Countries.
5. Domestic travel and road trips!
We all love stamps on our passport but get into domestic travel! America is blessed with a variety of natural wonders and fun cities. Take a look at cities near you. Driving four hours is a short distance for a weekend trip. Flights in the US can be expensive but piling in the car is always a fun option. If you don’t have the money to go abroad take a look in your own backyard. My favorite domestic destinations are New Orleans, LA, Charleston, SC, Memphis, TN, Savannah, GA, and Los Angeles, CA.
6. Travel while you are across the pond.
Flights from America to the Eastern hemisphere are super expensive. However, once you cross the ocean it gets much cheaper to visit a different city or country. When I traveled from Madrid, Spain to Paris, France there were flights for as cheap as $35.
Moral of the story: Yes travel is expensive but you don’t have to travel like the queen.