I love to travel. A lot.
Travel costs money. Which can be a lot.
HOWEVER….as a girl who buys her clothes off Amazon and waits for the ‘take an additional 60% off clearance’ sale, you couldn’t pay me (ha) to pay full price for anything travel related.
When you have a few tricks up your sleeve, travel expenses can be cut drastically. Remember, the world is available to everyone – go see it!
Trip Trick #1: Fly out of an airport other than yours
Of course, the most convenient way to fly anywhere is to fly out of the closest airport. But during your flight research, remember to check airports of surrounding cities, or at other major hubs! You’d be surprised to find that it may actually be cheaper in the long run to fly out of a different airport!
For a trip to Europe last year, I flew out of Boston rather than my tried-and-true Chicago O’Hare. Why? Flights to my destination were $300 more from Chicago than they were out of Boston. Flights from Chicago to Boston were just $90 round trip on Southwest. Plus, I arranged it so that I could spend the day wandering around Boston, adding another small adventure to my trip!
Trip Trick #2: Figure out where you want to go…and then plan your trip around that
On all my European vacations, I had one destination in mind. For example, a year ago, my friend really wanted to go to Ireland, and I had my heart set on Italy. Guess what? Both were incredibly expensive to fly into. So we flew into Oslo, Norway! Flying into Oslo was about $350 cheaper than flying into either Dublin or Rome, and we ended up planning our entire trip around that: Oslo – Dublin – Rome – Dubrovnik. Norway was never on my radar, but I’m so glad we went; we had the best time exploring a city completely new to both of us.
Flying within Europe is already really cheap and we were taking one-way flights to each destination, so when all was said and done, our flights in total ended up costing around $500 — from the US to Europe and a few spots in between.
Trip Trick #3: Live like a local
I don’t think I’ve stayed in a hotel in a few years. Why?
I love experiencing a new city like a local. AirBnB is my friend and infinitely cheaper than a luxe hotel. You’ll find that many AirBnB listings are just as clean and efficient as hotels, and in amazing locations. I’ve saved a bundle on choosing to forego hotels during my travels and have really upped my overall experience as a result.
During my trip to Cuba, my friend and I stayed in an amazing apartment in the heart of a residential street – just steps away from anything we ever needed or wanted as far as food, shopping, bars, and more. Plus it was only $35 a night as opposed to the hotels, which were triple (or more!) that price. Oh, and did I mention they made us breakfast every morning? #Perks
Trip Trick #4: You really don’t need all those shoes
Airlines will nickel and dime you on EVERYTHING these days, especially on checked bags. Flying cheaply for me typically means completely throwing all fashion sense out the window. OK not completely, but hear me out.
I recently booked a trip to Iceland on WOWair for $270 (seriously, so cheap…it would cost me more to fly to Vegas from Chicago). That’s an amazing price, obviously, but it came with one concession: you only get to bring a personal item. Since I’ll only be gone three nights, I really don’t need much more than can fit in a backpack anyway, so I decided to save the additional $80 it would cost to bring a carry on bag and use that for something a little more worthwhile: tours and local cuisine!
People think I’m crazy for only bringing a carry on to 10 day vacations, but let’s be honest…who are you going to see that will care what you’re wearing or that you’ve worn the same pair of shoes for a week? For a trip like that, my typical packing list includes a pair of jeans, a couple dresses, a pair of leggings, a few t-shirts and wrinkle-resistant blouses, two pairs of shoes, and a jacket. Bring items that can easily be mixed and matched and you’re all set!
Trip Trick #5: Stick to a real itinerary
You know when you go to the grocery store without a list and you end up buying way more than you intended? I believe travel is just like that. Forgetting to research (or choosing to forego it altogether) can end up costing you way more than you planned to spend on your trip.
Book your tours in advance, plan out which restaurants you’d like to check out, and actually map out the easiest ways to get from Point A to Point B. I make Google Docs for each trip and outline each day as I see fit — from breakfast to the end of the day. For example, if I’m planning to check out a tourist site, I’ll check to see if anywhere on my restaurant list is nearby. This helps avoid additional (unnecessary) cab fares, gives you an opportunity to get to know the area, and saves you so much time in the long run.