How to plan affordable travel

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

There's a common misconception that if you travel you must be rich. What you don't know yet is traveling is often a lot cheaper than you think. So many people don’t know the secrets to planning affordable trips to be able to see more while spending less. I'm writing this blog to give you my top

travel tips to get you where you want to be on a friendly budget. It's a bit long so I’ve broken it down into sub-categories to better help you find the information that will help your future travels!


ACCOMMODATIONS


This should be a no brainer, but you don't need to stay in a 5 star villa with beach front views that come with a huge price tag. Although that would be nice and luxurious, it's unnessesary. When you go somewhere- it’s for the experience of the culture and the country. Not for the roof over your head. Affordable accommodation's come in so many options.


GOOGLE IS YOUR BESTIE! Google where you want to go and get a feel of the costs to expect of the place. Look at google maps and see if there's a city near by that you might find cheaper accommodations in. Google the location name with "cheapest places to stay" and read up on other bloggers who have already done the research for you by submerging themselves into that same place.


Look at all the following choices and see what fits your needs and works best for you! I bulletted a variety of diferent accommodation styles for you!

  • You can usually find great short term rentals through sites like airbnb or vrbo. These give you options to filter through price & housing style. You can book a whole home or just a room within a home or private sweet.

  • You can use google and search for hostels for where you’re traveling to. Hostels are a dormitory style shared room. The cool thing about hostels is your paying for your bed, not the room. It’s a great way to meet fellow travelers and save a lot of money. Most have female dorms, male dorms, and mixed dorm options. There's also the choice between bigger rooms with more beds and smaller rooms with less beds. The more beds in the room the cheaper the price. I love spending time in hostels. During covid times, I don’t know how hostels are operating and would probably wait to choose this option until it’s safer to travel again following CDC recommendations.

  • Booking.com or hotels.com have also helped me find good deals on hotels and last minute choices. You can also call the hotel and politely ask if they are offering any discounts or for an upgrade after booking.

  • If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can also try couchsurfing. Where people open up a free couch, bed or floor space for you to sleep on.

  • There are also workaway programs that you can work in different countries in exchange for accommodation. I’ve had friends work on farms in New Zealand in exchange for a room and food!


FLIGHTS

Flight deals are so fun to find. I always use google flights first. It lets you find the flights you’re looking for, add multiple airports to find more options and sort out different dates. More flexibility with your dates and plans gives more options and better chances at finding cheaper deals. There are also websites like scottscheapflights.com where mistake fares are posted for you to score. The website explains in detail how mistake fares happen and how to snag them, but I've found roundtrip flights from NYC to Paris for $275 on there.


Try to limit yourself to just a personal item like a backpack. I’m notorious for going on week long trips with just my small backpack. I don’t pay extra for my seat or luggage and when I check in at the airport, I’m always never in a middle seat. If I've been given a middle seat- I politely ask the gate agent if there are any window or aisle seats available and get my seat moved! (if you can't do just a backpack- totally understandable! Try to share a checked bag with who ever you are traveling with and make sure it's under the weight limit to avoid extra fees)


Babies can fly on their parents lap until they are 2 years old. Parents can also bring on board for free a diaper bag, breast pump related items, a cooler to store milk and formula, and bottles. They will go through TSA and the agent might open the milk to check it out but they will not taint it and are usually understandable and kind. You can also gate check your stroller and carseat for free.


I’d like to add that it’s obviously safest to buy your infant their own seat and use a flight approved car seat while flying. It’s also been said that car seats can be damaged while stored below during flight. Do these things at your own comfortability level and risk. I personally think that if it was deemed so unsafe for a child to be on your lap, it wouldn’t be an option. I do understand turbulence can happen at any point and be really scary and rough. It’s my personal choice to fly with my daughter on my lap.


FOOD


Go to the local grocery store and buy a few things. You can either eat all of your meals at home or at least breakfast and packed lunch. You can save so much money by not eating out 3 meals a day.


If you’re traveling in the states look for groupons or other coupons for restaurants and activities. If you’re in another country, google restaurant coupons before you go and see if you can find any online deals. So often you can find some sort of coupon or gift card you can buy online and save money. I’ve bought so many groupons spending only $20 for a $50 meal. All you need is your phone and a QR code to be scanned by a manager at the restaurant.


Eat where the locals eat. Street carts are the most authentic meals the country has to offer. When I lived in Thailand, we ate at street carts every day. When we ate a Thai meal it would cost less than $1. If we ordered a fried chicken sandwich it was exactly $1.

There are A LOT of countries to visit in the world that have a more affordable cost of living than the states. But also- keep in mind that if you visit a country like Thailand and order the Filet Mignon, you’ll obviously be spending more money.


TRANSPORTATION


Use local transportation. Many places have busses, trains, subways. Walk places if you can. If you need a taxi think about doing a ride share.


Look at google maps when looking at accommodations are try to find somewhere that you can walk to a lot of places. Also, you can download maps onto your phone if you won't have service or wifi and can use the maps later on.


Discount rental car companies are abundant. Quick google search helps with that.


TRAVEL CREDIT CARD


Travel on points! I’m brand new to this. I’m 28 years old and only opened my first credit card half way through 2020 so I could build my credit. I never wanted a credit card and never understood how beneficial they are if you use them correctly!


*You do need a higher credit score to be approved for cards with more benefits.

My tips so far:

DON’T use the card for “credit”.

ONLY spend money you already have that you’d be spending anyway, but use a travel card to do it.

PAY THE CARD OFF IN FULL ONCE A MONTH, ON TIME!


I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card.

Every dollar spent on the card is 1 point.

Every travel related, grocery, or gas purchase is 3x points.


Points add up and you use those for travel! You can spend your points on flights, accommodations, rental cars, anything!

The CSR card does have a $550 annual fee- however you automatically get a $300 yearly travel credit which brings that fee to $250 if you buy it for travel like I suggest.

If you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months, you get an additional 50,000 bonus points. That’s a free $750 to use toward your travels. If you don’t think you can spend 4k in 3 months, plan your long term trips and pay for some of them ahead of time! You get full travel insurance with the card so if you need to cancel for any reason, you can.


You also get access to airport lounges. I’ve NEVER been in an airport lounge but it has free food, wifi, and adult beverages. I love the sound of not spending $13 on an airport bagel or $17 on a glass of airport wine.

 

What am I missing? I'd love to hear your favorite travel hacks and tips that you've used for your adventures. If you have any questions or are looking for more travel advice, feel free to join the Traveling the Lunaverse community Facebook group! We'd love to see you there, where fellow travel lovers are sharing their own stories and advice with you.


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