I absolutely love traveling. There’s just something about being out of your normal surroundings that just makes me googly eyed. And yes, traveling CAN BE CHEAP! Here are some of the ways I travel cheap, and often:
Road Trips! Hit the road…on your own OR with a friend. You’ll see so much more and end up with the best stories!
Fly on Tuesday through Thursday. It’s usually cheaper than traveling any other day. Click on the “flexible dates” option when searching for flights so you get prices for the day before and after your target date.
Fly Economy/Basic. No, this is not just for seating. Fly basic as in Southwest, Frontier, Spirit, etc. They may not be the fanciest airlines, but they’re pretty much all the same.
Maximize time off work. Work extra hours for an extra day off OR get your days off consecutively. If your pay period week is Wednesday to Tuesday, request that you have Monday and Tuesday off one week, and Wednesday and Thursday off the following week. Now you have more vacation days for longer travels.
Search for deals & coupons in advance (like Groupon). Even if it’s just food discounts…that’s more money in your pocket for your next trip!
Purchase early, but not too early. Typically, 6-8 weeks out is the best time to purchase a flight. I’ve noticed that 8 weeks is usually the cheapest; 6 weeks out tends to go up some, but nothing crazy.
Don’t be afraid of layovers. Save money by having a layover instead of flying direct. If it’s a layover longer than an hour, you’ll have time to explore the airport and stretch your legs.
Pack smart, avoid carry-on fees! Map out your days and think about what you’ll really need. Pack items you can mix and match. Find out what the size for a personal item is and get a bag that is close to that size…most airlines have the same size, so think of it as an investment. Pro tip: wear your heavy/bigger items like jeans, jacket, etc. to make extra room.
Check out the free stuff. There are beautiful buildings and landmarks you can get to for free. Don’t miss out on them!
Be your own guide. Don’t pay for a guided tour. Explore on your own time/pace mean getting a better experience by meeting locals and finding some great hole-in-the-wall spots!
Visit friends who moved away. They love visitors, so visit them! Obviously, don’t contact just for this reason. Make sure it’s someone who you are close enough to that would be OK with offering a bed. Offer to take them to dinner one night or even just bringing a small present as a ‘thank you’ is nice.
Don’t shop! I know, I know…, but, really, it’s kind of pointless. Unless there’s a store that is not available to you wherever you live, don’t do it. If you must shop, then shop locally. You can find the most adorable things at the local markets or festivals, and it’s a great way to remember your trip.
Sign up for FREE Frequent Flyer Programs. All of them. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s free. You never know when you’ll earn enough points for a free flight…it’s usually a lot faster than you’ll realize.
Flight only = purchase from airline. Usually cheaper than paying a convenience fee from a third-party site.
Flight + Hotel (+Car) = purchase from third-party. Package deals are usually cheaper from third-party sites (i.e. Expedia, Orbitz). BUT, don’t forget about the package deals on the airlines. They are really getting on board with this, too.
Do the math, compare prizes! Add everything up and make sure you are getting the best deal. Sometimes buying miles is worth it, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a flight will be cheaper than driving, sometimes it won’t be. And so on.
Have other tips? Share them below.