How do you travel luxuriously with a full-time job, a budget, and limited time off?
I constantly get asked this question by followers, friends, and even family. My question to you is: What do you consider luxury? If you expect to be chartered off in a yacht with Lil’ Wayne and Dom Pérignon, whatever you read here probably won’t satisfy your travel dreams. But if you can bend your budget and make the most of your holidays and weekends, you can create memories of a lifetime.
You do not have to be rich to travel cheap.
My Thrifty Travel Tips to Rule Your Breaks:
- Travel during off-seasons. You may get a day off for the holiday, but consider the price increases from airlines and resorts during this time. It may be more worth it to take a vacation day or call in sick (Use it, don’t abuse it – but hey, we’ve all done it). Visit winter towns like Lake Tahoe in the summer. If the location is that beautiful in the winter, they are guaranteed to be gorgeous during summertime as well.
- Take a stay-cation. Stay local and save on airfare. You don’t have to travel far to explore new places. Check out my suggestions if you plan on staying in Southern California.
- Go on a road trip. Take advantage of low gas prices and opt for the scenic route. These are my favorite because you can travel at your own pace, experience the local towns, and pull over for photo ops at your leisure.
- Use apps and websites like Kiwi or SkyScanner. Choose where you fly from, your desired dates, and a location radius of where you would like to travel. You can find cheap flights to multiple destinations at the same time!
- Use social media. You can often find promotions that travel companies post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can also use their social media pages to contact them for a great deal.
- Travel in groups. If you can find friends or family that want to travel with you, splitting the cost of expenses will allow more spending money for excursions and dining.
- Sign up for a travel credit card. You’ve heard it before, get points on the money you spend! Don’t spend money just to get money, but these points could eventually add up and be used on free airline tickets, gift cards, or even cash. If you are able to pay your balance off monthly, it’s practically free money.
- Use ATMs for currency exchange. Get your cash quicker and cheaper. ATMs will typically have the best currency exchange rates (avoid the airports). You will probably incur a one-time ATM fee, so minimize your transactions by withdrawing larger amounts of cash.
- Contact your friends and family. Whether it is a place to stay or a tour guide, enjoy the local hospitality and immerse yourself in culture. Getting to know the locals could result in lifelong friendships that could be beneficial for future travels.
- Keep an eye out for deals. If you don’t want your email to get ‘spammed’, create a new email address and sign up for as many travel email lists as possible. Check airlines, hotels, travel agents, community websites for email subscriptions.
- Rent a private room. We all know about AirBnB. Most of us prefer to stay comfortably while renting the entire condo or house, but have you thought about renting an open room? If you are travelling correctly you aren’t spending most of your time in the hotel room anyway, so rent a room, share the space, and save your money.
- Free walking tours. Many cities abroad have free walking tours several times a day. Check with your hotel for details and meeting locations. For individual travelers, this is a great way to meet new people. The tour guides rely on your tips to earn a living so be sure to tip generously.
- Use student or other discounts. Many tourist attractions and local restaurants offer student, senior, teacher, local, or youth discounts. Save a bundle by flashing your student card (or other card) everywhere you go!
- Book a tour on Vayable. Don’t want to spend the overpriced tour package that your hotel is paid to recommend? Check out this website for things to do in the US and Europe. Locals guide you through their cities with a unique perspective. Restaurant, photography, and walking tours are available to book online.
- Use the Hopper app. This app will suggest better dates to purchase your airline tickets online. It may cost $1,000 now, or $600 in 3 months. Hopper will also watch prices for you and let you know when prices are likely to rise again. Keep in mind American Airlines does not share their pricing information with Hopper.
- Get food to-go. Typically it will be less expensive if you order take-out rather than dine-in. You can enjoy by having a picnic in a pretty park or in the comfort of your own room.
- Go to upscale restaurants for lunch. If discovering new restaurants is your way of enjoying a new city, opt for the fancy eateries during lunchtime. Often the prices will be discounted and you won’t have to battle the crowds.
- Free museum entry. Many museums and parks offer free or discounted entry on certain days. Research ahead and take advantage of these freebies!
- Choose affordable destinations. We all know that visiting cities like New York, San Francisco, or Paris could be costly. Places that are lesser known with a cheaper cost of living could benefit you if you are a tourist.
- Plan ahead. If you’re thinking that hotels will have the best deals when you get there, you’re wrong. They know that you’ve waited until the last minute and you will end up paying full price if not more. Research tours and excursions ahead of time. You can probably find discounted rates online and you won’t have to worry when you arrive.