STEP ONE: Stop Overspending
Travelling can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be that way. As you are about to reveal, there are plenty of strategies and actions you can take to keep costs down. Click on the gray boxes below to find out.
1. Save on your flights
For most people, the flight is the major “barrier” when it comes to pulling the trigger on booking their trip. There seems to be this notion that flying is always expensive, but the truth is that you can score great deals on flights with the right timing and strategies.
When it comes to airfare, prices can quickly change with time and destination, so learning how to navigate the ins and outs of the flight industry is an imperative skill to have for the freedom-based lifestyle entrepreneur.
Following are a few of the ways by which you can save on your airfares.
1. Shop around - As you already know, airfares for similar flights can vary dramatically from airline to airline. Sites like Expedia.com, Dohop.com, Hipmunk.com, Travelocity.com, Kayak.com, FareCompare.com, or Adioso.com (my favorite for its intuitive interface) allow you to compare offers from multiple airlines at once. That being said, don't rule out booking directly through the airline companies themselves, who might offer exclusive deals. Other sites like Skyscanner.com are great for scoring cheap flights within regions like Europe or Asia, on low-cost airline carriers.
2. Set up flight alerts - If you fly any regular route, Travelzoo.com, Cheapair.com, and other travel booking sites can generate custom flight email alerts. You enter the details of your trip, and they'll alert you whenever they find a deal matching your criteria. This saves you from having to constantly be checking back to see if your itinerary price has gone down.
3. Be flexible with your airport - The nearest airport to your origin/destination may not always have the cheapest flights, so be sure to check nearby airports for lower airfares. You can use Skyscanner.com to see how much it costs to fly to various airports by entering a country's name instead of a specific city as your destination point (it will list the cheapest flights from your local airport in price order). Also, if your final travel destination isn't a major hub, check fares to the hub first and then look for an extra flight from the hub to your final destination. (Every airline has a "hub" where the majority of its flights arrive/depart. This means potentially cheaper fares because there are more flights to choose from.)
4. Be flexible with your dates - Flexibility is key to finding inexpensive airfare, as flight prices vary considerably depending on the season, month, day, and even hour of travel. Search tools such as Skyscanner.com, kayak.com/explore/, and google.com/flights allow you to compare flight prices across a whole month (they also allow you to browse the cheapest fares to multiple world destinations, which gives you more flexibility); however, don't automatically count on these tools. Instead, conduct individual searches for different days, especially Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, which are more likely to offer lower rates on airfare. It takes a bit more time to search this way, but is worth it in the end to save potentially hundreds of dollars on your flight.
5. Know when to buy - Timing can be everything when it comes to finding flight deals. The worst time to book your trip is usually the last minute when few seats remain available. This does not mean that you can't score a cheap airfare at the last minute, but more often than not, it's better to book your trip a little bit in advance. Data shows that "sweet spot," so to speak, is around 30 to 90 days before your planned trip; this is usually when prices are at their lowest. Also, I haven't personally seen it work, but many travel experts say that it best to search for cheap airfares in the middle of the week, as some airlines update their databases on Tuesday or Wednesday. The other recommendation is to avoid shopping for flights on the weekends.
6. Two one-way flights vs. round trip - Round trips are not always cheaper anymore, so check each leg of your trip separately. Your options are completely open and you can mix and match different airlines. You don't even have to arrive/depart from the same airport. On the other hand, if your trip is a one-way departure, check the round-trip fares--sometimes they are actually less expensive.
7. Research fees - Expedia, Kayak and most of the other big travel sites show you all taxes and fees upfront; sometimes, however, there are several airline charges that are not reflected in the initial price you see. Perhaps the most common one is the baggage fee. Always check baggage policies, both carry-on and checked, before you fly, as it can save you some money and disappointment.
8. Shop for one seat - If you're traveling with a partner or a group, search for one person first and see if there is a price difference when you search for a group. If the price comes out lower, consider buying your tickets separately.
9. Clear your web browsing history - Some travel booking sites record your web browsing data and use this information to raise prices the next time you visit their site. By clearing your browser's cache (also known as 'temporary internet files') and restarting your browser, you may see lower prices for the same search.
10. Don't focus only on price - Choosing non-stop over connecting flights, for example, will save you time (and often sanity), which can be translated into money. Check out RouteHappy.com for its "flight-happiness" rating system. You can sort routes by ease of transit (number of connections, roomier seats, entertainment, etc.) rather than focusing strictly on price.
2. Save on your accommodation
Often, the cost of accommodation is the most expensive part of a trip, so learning how to plan it properly is key.
But while many travelers have the notion that they need to budget $50 or more per night for accommodation, it is quite easy to sleep for far less, or even for free if you plan things out right.
Following are a few of the ways by which you can reduce your travel expenses when it comes to accommodation.
1. Comparison sites - If it's hostels you're after, sites like Trivago.com allow you to compare hotel deals around the world from more than 200 booking sites. If you're looking for something in the very near future, check out Lastminute.com or Wotif.com for decent deals. Finally, check out online travel brokers such as Expedia.com and eBookers.com because they sometimes have special discounts on specific hotels.
2. Hotel sites - Hotels often have deals on their own websites so it's worth spending the extra minute to check them out as well. Hotel sites may offer, for example, special promotions or 3-night deals that comparison sites don't. Just bear in mind that some sites hide the true cost until the final booking page, so take this into consideration when booking a visit. Also, you might want to pick up the phone and call the hotel directly to see if there are any forthcoming promotions that are not listed on their site. Don't hesitate to ask for a better deal!
3. Review sites - When you have a few good options on your shortlist, check out review sites like TripAdvisor.com to see if you'd be happy to stay at any of them. They list detailed reviews, ratings, and pictures taken by previous guests. Just don't take everything at face value; check the context in which they were written and how biased the reviewers seem. Also, don't fully trust the star system. More often than not, it's based on amenities, not quality.
4. Hostels and B&B sites - Bed and Breakfast places are often cheaper and friendlier than comparable hotels. Plus, you usually get a breakfast thrown in. Directory sites like bedandbreakfast.com often offer worthwhile promos, so check them out. Hostels are especially great for solo travellers and those who want a more social environment for a relatively cheap price. If that's the case for you, check out Hostelworld.com, which has the biggest selection of hostels on the internet. You might also be able to find B&B and apartments in their database.
5. Apartments and vacation rentals - If you plan to stay in one place for a week or longer, renting an apartment or a house might save you substantially. Sites like homeaway.com and vrbo.com feature millions of properties worldwide. Once you've found a rental, try contacting the owner directly to see if they are willing to drop the price. You never know if you don't ask, right?
6. House swapping - If you live in a relatively desirable area and are willing to let others stay in your house, a home swap can be a huge money-saving opportunity. Only use reputable sites such as HomeExchange.com and LoveHomeSwap.com.
7. Home sharing and room rentals - One of my favorites! Home sharing sites like Airbnb.com offer the opportunity to rent out private rooms or entire homes (as well as castles, tree houses, private islands and even igloos) for prices that are relatively cheaper than hotels. It's also a great way to meet locals. Currently, Airbnb.com is the largest home sharing site, with rentals in more than 190 countries, but other room rental sites started sprouting up recently, including Roomorama.com, 9flats.com, wimdu.com, and morningcroissant.com . It's worth exploring a few of these sites, as sometimes prices vary for the same room.
8. House sitting - If you want to enjoy the comfort of having a home away from home for free, house sitting might be your smartest choice. Sites like Mindmyhouse.com and Trustedhousesitters.com have listings from homeowners looking for someone to house sit their home (and often their pets) while they are away. Craigslist.org is another option.
9. Couchsurfing - Meet locals and stay for free on a couch, or better yet, a spare bed. Above all, Couchsurfing provides a great way to get to know people and places on a deeper level. On the downside, staying with hosts you don't know can be a lottery. Either way, it’s bound to be a memorable experience, and one that can save you a lot of cash while you’re at it. Before applying for a couch at Couchsurfing.org, find out as much info as possible about the host and check his or her reviews. Oftentimes, you’ll end up staying with a local that will be glad to show you around town to all their favorite local spots.
10. Camping - If you love the great outdoors and want to experience nature on the cheap, camping can be a good option. If you are traveling in the US, check out Reserveamerica.com and Koa.com, which both have an extensive selection of campground sites.
11. Volunteer and work for accommodation - You can receive accommodation and food in exchange for a few hours of work a day, mostly on farms. The biggest sites in this space are WWOOF.org (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and HelpX.net. Doing volunteer work and workshare is also a great way to expand your travel experience, give back, and connect with people and opportunities you might not otherwise get a chance to.
3. Save on living expenses
Over years of traveling, I've mastered many money-saving hacks that have helped me save thousands of dollars over the course of my travels. As there are quite a few of them (150..), I gathered the top ones into an eGuide. Just sign up below and I'll send you the guide via email.
STEP TWO: Experience More
Travel hacking is about much more than just saving money. Check out the 7-day course I created to help you master traveling. More than just saving money, you’ll learn how to plan, prepare, and get the most out of your trip. Just click below.
STEP THREE: Travel Forever (The Ultimate Travel Hack)
Imagine waking up every morning knowing that you are free to travel and live anywhere in the world while earning income at the same time. Seems unrealistic? It doesn't have to be. Click the link below to find out more.