Hello, fellow wanderlusts! If you’re here I assume you have been bitten by the travel bug and spend most of your time just waiting for that next adventure – like me.
Traveling is such a rush, am I right? From planning out the itinerary, picking out your outfits and packing your bags, grabbing a drink at the airport to kick off the fun and watching from the airplane windows as your destination comes into view. You know what’s a real killjoy when it comes to traveling though? The drain on your bank account.
I’ve had so many requests to write a blog post with tips and tricks to save some bucks, while still living your best travel life and so I’ve spent a few days writing all of my thoughts down and putting this post together. I love to share openly about my life and a huge part of my life is travel. I’ve written about this before, but I was so lucky to be able to have the opportunity to live in England as a teenager – I graduated high school on a NATO base outside of London! Living in Europe, my family and I got to travel SO much and I continued traveling since then as well. I’ve been to 29 countries total (and counting!) and so I have a fair amount of experience with travel with family, friends, spouse and even traveling solo!
Thank you to everyone who chipped in with things they wanted to see in this post and specific areas they needed to be able to spend money in while travelling. I’ve incorporated all of it here and am so excited to share it with all of you!
Financial Travel Hacks
Choose to travel to your destination during its off season. This will affect the price of airline tickets, hotel fare and more. Recently, my husband and I along with my best friend and her husband spent about nine days in Denmark and The Netherlands in the dead of winter. This put us in Holland – land of the tulips – in December, when the tulips aren’t even out. The tulip fields are one of the main reasons people travel to that part of the world. But, by going in the winter, we cut our travel investment in HALF. We only spent $540 on tickets on a major airline. If you were to book that same trip in the spring and summer, it would cost around $1,200. We didn’t get tulips, but we did get insanely gorgeous Christmas markets, plunging into the Baltic Sea in our swimsuits and the bragging rights that went along with that and way more. Traveling to your destination during its off season is one of the best travel hacks, trust me. Embrace the idea of off seasons and you’ll add to your list of countries a lot faster!
Ok, listen up. This next one is like my secret travel weapon. I feel like for years on social media, people have watched me travel all over the place and been like, “wait…how” BECAUSE OF THIS (mostly). Five words: Kayak’s “Explore the World” function. Yes, my friend. You are welcome. If you sit down and decide, “I’m traveling to Greece in August,” this is not going to work for you. Kayak’s Explore the World is for flexible travel. Simply put in the airport you’re flying out of and maaaybe put in a parameter of the month(s) you’re looking to travel. Then explore the world. It will give you a map will all kinds of options and you can see where the cheapest travel would be. Y’all don’t even know how many trips were decided not because we had a destination in mind, but because Kayak showed us where we could go for CHEAP! Yaaasss. I’ve found tickets to Ireland, England, France, Spain, etc for under $500…even tickets to Southeast Asia for under $700. Don’t even get me started on the Caribbean…I can get you there cheaper than it would be to fly to Austin, TX. YES. Real life example: one night I was laying in bed with no travel plans and nowhere in mind. I was simply messing around with Kayak for fun (as I do usually every night) and saw tickets to Iceland in October for $279. We booked it the next day. If you can be flexible with your travel, you’re okay with picking a destination from options on a map and you have the freedom to say “yeah that month sounds good” then you can travel for so cheap. Also, another tip here is to check this function of Kayak *often* because new stuff pops up all the time.
Be willing to drive to a bigger city’s airport to fly out/in. I don’t know where you live, but I live in Oklahoma City. It’s a capital city and a large metropolis of over 600,000 people. But that doesn’t mean it has the best airport ever (it doesn’t). But Dallas is three hours away from me. If you live in a large city like Dallas, Nashville, LA, NYC, Atlanta, Chicago…this is not for you. But if you live anywhere outside of a large, major city then you should consider making the drive (if feasible) to one to fly out internationally. Just this one hack can save you a few hundred dollars if not more. And that’s including the cost of gas to get there and considering paying to keep your car in the parking garage. Even better tip: drive to a bigger city the night before, stay in a cheap hotel not far from the airport, leave your car parked at the hotel to avoid paying the parking garage fees. Most hotels will charge you maybe $5 a day to keep your car there and will even shuttle you to the airport. Just make sure you do your homework ahead of time to contact hotels, figure out the parking garage daily fees if you need to and then consider if it’s worth it to you to fly out of your own airport or a larger one. In our case, it has mostly always been worth it to drive to Dallas and fly out in order to save moolah.
Secret Flying. You’re life is about to change. Secret Flying is simply a group of people that got together to find the best travel deals at all times and post them in real time at no charge to you. Website: https://www.secretflying.com/ or their IG handle is @secretflying. You can also download the app and get instant flight deal alerts. Again, this method would require a bit of flexibility and a bit of luck. The deals that are posted are strictly from a certain starting point to a certain destination, but if you live in one of the cities or can get there easily, this is SO WORTH IT! How do they find these deals? Constant scanning of airlines + some of these are actual error flights! Sometimes an airline will enter in the wrong information, but once it is published they have to honor the cost and so this team digs up those deals and lets you know about them. How cool, right?
Hotel tonight. Check out their website, app and socials to learn more! Basically, Hotel Tonight specializes in last-minute hotel fare. Did you know that hotels – no matter their normal rates – still want to sell every room in the house? So if they’re not quite booked and want to fill a room, they’ll lower the rates on available rooms. Some money is better than none, ya feel me? When booking your room, you can even pick if you want to only see specifically four or five star hotels. My husband and I have stayed at super nice hotels (we’re boujee and prefer nice hotels) using Hotel Tonight and we’re able to save money, but get the experience we’re used to! Rates always drop at the last minute, so if you’re up for the risk…the later you wait to book, the better. And yes, Hotel Tonight is international! Not in all cities, but they’re always adding more and more so it’s definitely worth checking out!
This next one is a simple tip, but traveling in a group is a great way to cut costs! Dividing up beds in rooms, sharing plates at meals, dividing the costs of Ubers and taxis, etc. In December when we traveled internationally with our friends, we booked Airbnbs and all shared the costs. Plus we found super affordable (and central/clean/nice/cute) Airbnbs by looking way in advance and making sure we got good deals (there’s a tip inside of a tip)!
A lot of you really wanted tips on how to cut costs of dining while traveling. This is one of those that can be tricky. You can find deals on flights and hotels, but it’s not as if restaurants are dishing out coupons or there’s some group getting you slashed costs on menus. If you really want to save money traveling, you could eat fast food at every meal, but I certainly would never ever do this myself or suggest that you do it. To me, one of the best parts of travel is getting to experience all of the different culinary adventures that go along with it. Now. That all being said, there are some things we’ve done in our travels that I would suggest you do so that you can save some cash! First of all, mix high prices with low. I love looking up restaurants in advance and planning out the best ones to go visit. This sometimes means that the restaurants I find can be $$$, but to me that’s worth it. So I go ahead and make the reservations, but for other meals we will hit up a local hot dog stands or visit markets to find cheap food stalls and so on. This way it all balances out. I recently planned out an itinerary for a girls trip to Miami and although I included dinner at the Versace Mansion, I also included a $3 taco truck! Balance, y’all. Also, if you love to cook like I do and your accommodations where you are include a kitchen, then consider hitting up a market for fresh ingredients and a bottle or two or three of wine and cooking up your own dinner after being inspired by the culture around you! One of the things I used to do with my parents all over France, Germany, Switzerland, etc. was to go grab a bunch of wine, cheese, baguettes and meats and go find somewhere beautiful to have an impromptu picnic. Do that too! There’s tons of ways to save money eating, even if you sprinkle in a few higher priced food experiences here and there.
Honestly, the list could go on (don’t book excursions through the ship if you’re on a cruise because booking them on your own is less expensive), but I think the best overall tips are the ones above. I can’t wait for you to use these tips to fulfill all of your wandering dreams! Let me know if this winds up helping you, I so hope it does!