Travel on a Budget
Everyone wants to travel but doesn't always have the time or money! I understand, trust me. Although I do travel a lot, I travel on a budget. Of course it's always easier said than done, but sometimes it is doable. I don't go crazy with spending on vacation or buying expensive plane tickets to show off. Honestly, a lot of my friends and readers probably make a lot more money than I do, but I love experiences and if I have to stop certain habits and be a little more frugal I'm all for it because it's worth it. So here are a few of the things I've learned to help me save money when I want to travel!
-If you want to travel, save. Honestly guys, think about how much money you can save by NOT buying Starbucks everyday. You don't need it, or the calories! Start carpooling or taking the bus or shuttle to work. I take the Metro rail, bus, or shuttle from my apartment to work unless I am late or have to leave early. I save so much money from parking for $12 a day, and also on gas! Make small sacrifices for bigger rewards, and eventually those things won't even matter anymore.
-I also saw this really great idea to save for a trip if you just absolutely need help and have little self control. You can have a jar or envelope and just put any extra tips, change or cash from the day in the jar until you've saved enough to buy your flight.
-You can also open a savings or checking account that you do not touch and is specifically for travel funds.
2. Sign up!
Sign up for rewards programs through airlines or even your credit cards. The airline rewards are great and they want you to keep spending money. I love southwest, and every time I fly with them I get points that I can use towards my next flight, and also drink coupons! I have already had 2 roundtrip flights for less than $20 total!
3. Don't be afraid to fly cheap. Don't be embarrassed either, you're just getting from point A to B. And despite all the bad reviews and Youtube videos, Spirit and Allegiant are not that bad for domestic flights. Now you do have to read all the fine print because there are extra fees, but overall it's normal, and cheap! I waited too long to buy my flight to Cali and I ended up buying with Spirit because it was the cheapest. I was extremely skeptical, but everything went smoothly and I even had a flight attendant give me some hot tea from her personal stash (because you have to pay for drinks).
If you are planning for a trip in advance, especially for a group, there are plenty of websites that can help you choose your destination for whatever season or event you are planning for. Some destinations are cheaper through certain times of the year and if you watch the flights close enough, you can find great deals! I got a roundtrip flight to go to Miami in August for only $160 (Roundtrip!!!). This is very helpful for trips out the country also.
There is an app, called Hopper that is pretty helpful. It watches the flights for you and alerts you when prices go up or down and predicts when it will happen. Planning ahead is the best option because waiting until last minute will cost you more.
5. Buying flights
If you don't mind doing a little bit of extra work, you can buy your tickets separately and even through different airlines. There have been times when a one way ticket is cheaper going than coming or vice versa. I have found it cheaper to buy a one with Southwest, and the other flight with American Airlines. nothing wrong with that! But also make sure that you are saving money and not hurting yourself in the end. The good thing about Southwest is that your carry on, and your first 2 checked bags are free. Other airlines may charge you for your carry on and checked bags and you will end up spending more money by buying with different airlines, so you may as well buy a roundtrip.
You can also buy at different times. If you only have the money for one plane ticket at the moment, buy it!! you can always buy the return trip later, or if something happens, get flight insurance you have to cancel.
6. Book a package
-You can actually save money by booking your flight and hotel together, or rental car. If you are doing a resort stay, book with a travel agent or find a website that does all inclusive. You can find so many deals!
Also booking with your group will save you money.
Ask around, there may be someone who knows a travel agent that can get you a good deal, or someone who knows a great and affordable place to stay wherever you are going.
7. Change your schedule
Sometimes it's actually cheaper to fly on holidays!
Many people avoid flying on actual holidays because they want to be at their destination already. You'll find that flights are almost twice as much the day before and after a holiday rather than on the actual day!
If possible, shift the days of your trip. Sometimes airlines or websites will have deals on certain dates and it can help you save a couple hundred dollars at times.
8. Where to stay.
-If you are traveling with multiple people, I would recommend an AirBnb or Homeaway. Splitting the cost is much more effective. Or the new Innclusive.com that was started to help us brown-skinned folks vacay peacefully! Many places out of the country are also surprisingly affordable! The flights may be the most expensive thing for a trip to South America or Asia, but the food is cheap and hotels can be less a day, than what you would spend at Pappadeaux for 2 people.
9. Ask for gift cards
-If you still receive gifts from your family and friends, ask for airline gift cards as a gift instead of just money or a material item. And it doesn't even have to be a full flight amount. I'd be happy to reduce my flight payment by any amount if someone was willing to gift it to me!
10. Weekend Getaways
- Drive somewhere close or have a staycation!!
There are so many places you can go on a 2 or 3 day trip and have a mini, fun-packed adventure. In Texas, there are hiking trails, camping sites, wineries, historical sites and more. You don't have to take a fancy trip out the country to enjoy yourself or travel. Go to a lake, or a ranch and do something you've never done before! It's all about experiences, and some people have never been outside of Houston because they don't think they can afford to travel, but the gag is, you can!
Here are a few websites that you can look at for more info into the tips that I've given and also to sign up for alerts on sales, deals and more!