A lot of people have asked me how I manage to travel both domestically and internationally so much and not go broke. When I realized I had the travel bug a few years ago, I made it my mission to spend time doing the research and educating myself on exactly how to answer this million dollar question. A ton of backpackers out there will blog about how they saved the most on staying in hostels, buying their own groceries, and limiting their eating out. I think that's awesome and definitely one way to do it. However, I'll be honest here, that's just not me. I'm big on the comfort factor, especially while traveling (not to mention safety), so for me I'm not really into the hostel thing and traveling for months on end with only two shirts. Not trying to be high maintenance or anything, but it really just depends on the person. And for me, having a secure place to leave my bag for the day is important. So with that being that, this post will cover 6 ways I've been able to travel pretty luxuriously without having to dip into any savings;)
- 1) Constant research: if you want to get into travel (more specifically, cheap travel), you've got to do the research. While my friends were on Snapchat or CandyCrush during a long line at the food trucks, I would be on travel apps. I downloaded the top apps on my phone and that was my go-to boredom buster. I'd consistently be searching flight deals and playing around with the best times to fly. Helpful hint here: download the Cheapoair app as well as Sky Scanner -- which brings me to my next tip
- 2) Know when to travel: it's crucial to know the peak seasons for the country you want to travel to. For example, going to Europe in the summer (May - September to be exact) will always cost you an arm and a leg. However, winter -- not so much. That's why I decided on finalizing our Europe adventure a month ago because the tickets were so cheap! I mentioned Sky Scanner because this app offers you a matrix to compare travel dates (not only individual but also month to month comparisons). Some people are Excel wizards, I'd proud of say I'm pretty much a wiz at this app, haha.
- 3) Stalk airlines for glitches: no I'm serious. This is probably my favorite secret to share with you guys. One of my favorite things to brag about is that I got tickets to Bali (roundtrip) from San Jose for $375. Yes you read that correctly. My trip to Austin earlier that year cost more. Have you picked your jaw off the floor yet? This occurred simply because of an airline glitch. For me, it could have been that the reps at Delta just wrote the wrong price down (human error) or forgot to include oil charges in the flight cost. It can really be anything. There are a ton of blogs out there that highlight when these glitches occur, and one that I'll share is Secret Flying. Subscribe! It can be tedious but to me checking it now is comparable to checking my Email; I just do it by default.
- 4) Sign up for the right credit card: I'll split this one into two parts. Part 1: sign up for a card that has a 0% charge for international travel. Most credit cards charge a 2-3% fee on all international transactions. My family has had Wells Fargo for years now but even they have the fee. I had signed up for the Capitl One Venture card about a year ago and this is one of the only cards not to have any fee. I highly suggest it so you can avoid the annoying fees. Part 2: sign up for a card with travel perks. My mom has the CitiBank Expedia card and pretty much purchases everything on it, and therefore we accumulate points on the daily. This has led to a number of completely free tickets (for example, her Europe ticket RT was free!).
- 5) Master the art of TripAdvisor: ok so shameless plug here, but TripAdvisor has become my new best friend. I absolutely love this site and all it has to offer travel junkies. It's pretty much the Yelp for travel. And if you know me, you know how much I love Yelping. I would suggest using this site pre-trip so you can compare the prices and ratings of all the hotels of your destination. They include the ratings from guests, the overall ranking of the hotel compared to all the rest, as well as prices across the board from all booking sites. I did all the booking for our past trips via TripAdvisor. I love the fact I'm able to see real photos instead of only the professional ones the hotel has on their site. Not to mention, hearing from past travelers on their tips and overall thoughts after their stay. Best of all, I'm able to find the cheapest hotel for my personal budget and wants.
- 6) Fly into a less popular city: finally, I'll leave you with this -- always look into a nearby airport to fly into. I've seen this both domestically and internationally. For instance, for those of us living in the Bay Area, flying out of Oakland will almost always be cheaper than SFO. Same goes for your overseas destination. London and Paris will always be pricey. Consider a city like Zurich to fly into and then take the train (super comfy) to your final destination. Best of all you get to see the countryside by train and save a ton on the flight. Happy travels friends! Let me know if these tips help. XO