I have gathered the 10 top tips for traveling on a budget and I want to share it in this post.
Get a great vacation at a price you can afford!
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1. Do your research
Once I know the destination or possible destinations of my trip I like to research the airports and their connections to the city. Sometimes, a flight to the main airport of your city´s destination can cost a few more bucks. However, the transportation to the city could balance that cost and it could be less of a hassle than flying to a faraway airport because is cheaper and ending up spending more money and time on the way in and out of the city.
Same thing with Hotels, and other tickets like trains, museum visits or excursions.
If you are traveling around Europe I recommend researching other ways of traveling besides plane. Sometimes is cheaper and easier to travel by train.
For hotels, I almost always use booking.
Lately, I have been recommended to use Airbnb lately and, even though I haven´t done yet, it is one of my musts for my next trip. I recommend it since my friends have used it many times and have really good references about it.
If you have never signed up for it and will like to have an extra $40 credit sign up through this link.
2. Compare, even directly to the company’s website, you never know
I know it can be annoying to devote hours looking for flights but is always a great idea to compare prices on different websites, even the websites of the company you want to fly with.
It is true that most of the time companies like Delta, American Airlines, Iberia, etc. will have higher prices than those shown on third party websites like Kayak or Expedia. But it doesn´t hurt to check it out. I once bought my ticket from Madrid to New York directly with United Airlines and I not only got a better price, but I also got some perks like free checked bag and free seat selection, not bad huh?
Compare, compare and compare, there is always a better price for you!
These are the websites/apps I like to use while comparing flight fares:
Expedia will show you the best fares on your travel dates. You can choose direct flights or with layovers. You can also mix flight + hotel + car or even look for different activities to do at your destination.
It is easy to use, and if you join Expedia+ you will receive points for your purchases and use them to redeem rewards.
Kayak, same as Expedia but it also allows you to look for train tickets and cruises, plus it will show you flexible dates for your trip and offers multi-city (love that feature!).
Skyscanner, it is one of my favorite websites to compare prices even though I don´t always find the best deals there. I like that you can put your airport of departure and set up the destination as everywhere. Skyscanner will show you destinations at good prices from your preferred airport, pretty cool if you ask me.
Hopper, this is an app that you can download to your phone and it will tell you the best time to fly and buy your ticket. You can also purchase your ticket from the app. I pretty much use it to have an idea of when to buy my ticket at the best price, it helps a lot.
3. Join the email list of your favorite airline and third party travel website.
Be prepared to receive tons of emails, almost every day, but this is helpful if you travel a lot. There are many offers that sold out even before you have known about them. I have joined Iberia, Expedia and Booking email lists, and, yes, I do receive a lot of emails from them, but I also get pretty good deals with them.
What I do to don´t get overwhelmed with so many emails, it´s to have a separate account just for traveling. It makes things easy, since I know that everything related to my trip is on that account, and I don’t have to browse my email account every time I have to check something related to the trip.
4. Make sure you are getting the hotel room you are paying for.
I love booking.com but sometimes the hotel room I have reserved for them is not quite like the ones in the pictures. Even though there are many reviews, the pictures are not always made by the users, and the hotel will show you its nicest places like the dining room area or the hall, and some nice rooms, but not exactly the ones they are offering at a cheaper rate.
For that I found Oyster, it is a really helpful website where users like you and me post their review and their very own pictures of the rooms they had reserved. Their slogan is “You can´t return a bad vacation” and they are totally right! The website even has an option for photo fakeouts, check it out and you will totally agree with me that this is a must tool when looking for a hotel.
5. Book with anticipation and be as flexible as possible.
I know this can be hard to do, especially the flexible part. By being flexible I don’t mean months (however, if you have the privilege of choosing the month to travel I totally recommend to avoid the months of higher tourism), I am talking about dates.
Imagine you start your vacation on a Friday, but the plane ticket is $200 more expensive than traveling Thursday night or even Saturday morning super early. Choosing the Saturday flight will not only get you a better deal, it will allow you to have a full day wherever you go, and will save you a hotel night and extra money. You can do the same thing on the way back, maybe coming back a day earlier than planned is cheaper and you can use that extra day of vacation to rest. Trust me, if you are like me and want to explore everything everywhere you go, you will need that resting day.
6. Always use incognito windows
Always use an incognito window when searching for flights or any kind of vacation package. Every website now works with cookies, and they will totally give your research up to the companies, which will increase their prices almost every time you make a new search.
This is a safe way for you to get an idea of fair prices at the time of your research, prices will fluctuate depending on the days, the amount of seats available and the hours of purchase.
If you forgot to browse via Incognito don’t panic. It doesn’t mean you are going to get a disproportionate price for a couple of searches. You can always clean your history and the cookies you have on your browser.
7. Fly on the cheapest day of the week
Traveling on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays are usually the cheapest days of the week. Similarly, searching midweek for flights will give you the best deals too.
I have also heard that buying your ticket 47 days before your planned date and at 3 pm on Tuesdays will get you the cheapest rate. Honestly, I have booked my flight on a Tuesday at 3 pm and it was the same price as the day before. But still, it doesn’t hurt to check it out either!
8. Avoid paying for seat selection (if possible)
Unless that you really need to have a specific seat for any particular reason, I recommend waiting for the free seat selection at check-in. Usually is 24 hours before your flight. But I have flown at noon and checked in the day before at 8 a.m. and I could do it. Don´t wait until exactly 24 hours before your flight. It will automatically give you a seat or more, depending on how many tickets are under your reservation, and I have never been separated from the other travelers and got either window or aisle seat with no problem.
Don´t wait until exactly 24 hours before your flight. It will automatically give you a seat or more, depending on how many tickets are under your reservation. I have never been separated from the other travelers and got either window or aisle seat with no problem.
It will save you a few bucks that you can spend probably on better things during your trip.
9.Use Groupon or similar apps for discounted vacation packages.
You can even do travel for free joining Swagbucks and get Groupon credits as a reward.
I have personally never bought any vacation packages from Groupon. Nevertheless, I have friends that had done it and were very satisfied with the experience.
You will get discounted packages and sometimes you can even get them for free, how? By using sites like Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is a site that will reward you for your online activity. From searching online from their search engine, using its cash back tool, to taking surveys and much more. I have an account with them, and I can tell you it actually works. I was able to get $50 worth of Amazon gift card that I used for Christmas gifts. They have many rewards, and one of them is Groupon gift cards, which will get you vacations for free!
10.Use mint.com for your traveling, finances
And as the last tip, but not for that less important, I want you to be aware of mint. As one of its many features, you can keep track of your travel expenses on their web or app.
It really comes in handy if you are limited by a budget. I don´t know how many times I lost track of the money I had spent on trips.
This is an easy way to keep track of everything. Especially if you are sharing costs and want to remember who pays for what.
This is all for today, I hope you enjoyed reading my top 10 tips for traveling on a budget. If you have any other tips and will like to share them, please do so in the comments below.
What do you do to save on your trips?