Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram, wondering how other people are able to afford traveling while maintaining a normal lifestyle? I know I have, so many times. When James and I first got married and started talking about the idea of making my dream of travel a reality, I struggled with how we would be able to afford it. But I quickly realized, it is a lot more do-able than I had originally thought.
Traveling does require some serious saving up of money, and at times, extensive research. But I hope these 5 tips below help you find ways you can travel on a budget, and actually be able to relax!
Tip No. 1: Utilize Google Flights
Booking flights is probably one of the most intimidating and stressful parts of planning a trip. One of the best tips for eliminating this stress is utilizing Google Flights & it’s “Price Tracking” tool. Google will email you daily whenever there is a change in price for any airline on your particular dates. This is how I have booked cheap international tickets every time.
Side tip, I do know that tickets to London can be found as low as $140 one-way. So, if you are planning to travel to Europe, it’s not a bad idea to fly into London, even if it isn’t your final destination, because tickets from London to almost anywhere in Europe are easily going to be around $20-$60.
I also feel I should disclaim that the airlines who provide these low rates are nothing special, and include almost no upgrades. For European travel, Norwegian Air is probably the best budget airline. Norwegian Air is very comfortable, and the staff is always very friendly.
*Note: It is usually significantly cheaper to book ONE WAY tickets. I will look at the round-trip option when booking, but almost every single time I have traveled (at least internationally), booking one-way is much more affordable.
Tip No. 2: Booking.Com + Airbnb
Where we stay is probably one of the most important parts for me when booking a trip. The value in where we stay for me personally is usually found in three things: views, location, and general cleanliness/appearance of the place. Find out what is important to you, and then use these as filters when searching.
I use Booking.Com almost every time I book a hotel. And, I always book at the rate that allows for “free cancellation” so that I can cancel if plans change (worth the extra $).
James and I found the Hotel Elysees Union on booking.com for our stay in Paris, and we scored a hotel room with a view of the Eiffel Tower at an incredibly affordable rate. For 4 nights, I believe we paid around $700 total. That’s only $175 a night for a room with a view! SCORE!
*Note: Rates and availability on Booking.Com changes daily. So I will watch the rates on the website for a couple of weeks until I notice they have stabilized and it is around a price we can afford.
p.s. if you use this link here (also linked above) when booking your next hotel with booking.com, you will get $20 back from your first booking!
Booking through Airbnb is pretty straightforward. Rates are usually substantially cheaper if you book at least 8-12 months in advance, because property owner’s haven’t gone in and inflated rates for specific seasons yet. They will usually do this 6-8 months out. Staying at Airbnbs is cheaper in some instances, but not always. I check both, and make a decision based on value and what exactly I am looking for (views vs. location).
For Airbnb, use this code here (or linked above) for $40 OFF!
Tip No. 3: Search for Cheap Transportation & Free Excursions
There are two things to take note of for once you arrive at your destination: how you plan to get around, and what you plan to do there!
When planning how to get from spot A to B, I use an app/website called “Rome 2 Rio“, to first find out what transportation looks like in my potential destination. This site will literally provide every single way you can get from anywhere to anywhere, including a general idea of how much it will cost you for each method of transportation. Uber is fairly affordable and more convenient, so whenever a city has Uber, we always use this. And remember, walking is always free! 😉
When planning activities/excursions that we want to do at our destinations, I usually just research top attractions and take note of things we can afford. This looks different for everyone. Most of the time for us, just seeing the sights is enough of an activity. We aren’t big on tours and museums, so we never find ourselves spending money on those things. We enjoy the self-guided tours, that allow for more time exploring on your own and making spontaneous memories. This is such a fun and practical way to save money and use it on other things!
Tip No. 4: Save Save Save!
Booking any trip of course involves saving money. What this looks like is different for everyone, but I truly believe anyone can do it. For James and I, we usually consistently put a portion of any “extra” money we get into a “Travel Fund” for future trips that are maybe not even planned yet. This way, when something comes up (maybe even just a weekend getaway), we have money saved that we can pull from.
For bigger trips, we usually plan several months ahead, giving us plenty of time to save up and book things as we go. Our first European trip took almost 2 years of saving and planning, because we were just starting out as newlyweds and both really hadn’t traveled before. It took a lot of time and work, but it was all worth it.
It is also important to always have a budget when going into planning. Once we have that, we start to put money aside. Some months, it will be as low as $20 into the fund, and sometimes, it can be $200 or more. It all just depends on what works for you. But it has to be a priority.
Tip No. 5: Always Splurge on One Thing
Setting aside money to “splurge” on one thing has become an important part of my travel planning process. When you strive to save money on other areas of the trip, it makes it easier (and more rewarding) to really invest in one special thing.
For example, on our first trip together to London & Paris, we set aside extra money to splurge on a Parisian photo shoot to capture memories in a special and unique way. During my most recent trip to London for New Years Eve, I splurged on a ticket to a NYE River Cruise in the Thames River.
Every trip’s “splurge” will be different, and that’s what makes it so special. Take time to research and think about what you are really looking forward to at your destination, and find a way to make something special out of it. I really believe that adding this aspect of trip planning to your process makes the trip unique to who you are. It’s worth the extra month or two of saving to find something worth splurging on.
And that concludes my top 5 tips + tricks for traveling on a budget! Thanks for following along, friends! And PLEASE share with me if you personally find any of these tips to be helpful, OR if you have a tip of your own I don’t know about! Happy traveling!