” You’re always on vacation” or ” But you never stop” or “When are you working”. These are the kinds of sentences I hear quite often since I made traveling, my number one priority. However, I have a full-time job, I pay a rent and I have a normal salary. I think I’m not different from others, but I have some tips or rules of life that allow me to travel often. Today, I will share them with you hoping to give you some ideas.
6 Tips to travel often and cheaper
Every little bit counts | Plan your days off in advance
Choose your destination | Know how to book your trip
Choose your means of transport | Organize your stay once there
Every little bit counts
There is no miracle recipe, if you want to travel often, you have to save money. Here are the few tips that I apply daily.
When I’m not traveling, I pay attention to all my expenses. Ok, I’m not here to watch every euro spent, but still. I stopped going to restaurant, cinema or nightclub often. This is the kind of evenings where you spend 100€ without realizing it. I prefer to receive my friends at home, have good meals or watch a movie on my sofa. I try not to spend too much on gas or in the supermarket either. In fact, the easiest way is to set a budget a week, withdraw cash and stick to it. And I promise that with 50€ per week, you can love properly.
Things I live without
You will not find a TV at home, any more than nice decoration or a cozy interior. I’m not going to hit the shops every Saturday either, because to be honest, I go shopping once every six months. I reduced my sessions at the hairdresser twice a year and I do my work out at home instead of paying gym every month. It may seem difficult, but every three months, I reward my efforts with a cocktail on a breathtaking beach. Each one has his priorities.
Christmas and birthday gifts
Every year, I take the opportunity of my birthday and Christmas to get a plane ticket. Certainly, I have no gift to unwrap under the tree. Instead, I can enjoy a trip at a lower cost.
Plan your days off in advance
Being able to travel often is not only a question of money, but also a question of time. Once again, you have to know how to organize your calendar at best.
I’m sorry for all the people who work on the weekend, but for others, use your weekends! When I leave on a Friday and come back on Sunday evening or Monday morning, I can enjoy two full days. It is enough time to visit a new city, either in your own country or take a low-cost flight to another country. Using only my two weekend days, I was able to discover exceptional cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels or London.
In France or in Germany, there are more than 10 public holidays during the year. So much opportunity to afford an extended weekend or even leave a week by asking only three days of leave. At the beginning of the year, I like to look at the calendar to plan some weekends or include them in my long vacations.
Once again, a tip that cannot apply to everyone, but I’m here to share my own experience. I am lucky enough to work with flexible working hours. With this system, I can work a little more for a period of time to enjoy one or two more days of vacation.
Choose your destination
It’s the choice of the destination and the period you want to go on holidays that will influence your budget the most.
Be flexible on your destination
You can easily imagine that it is easier to go four times to Europe than once at the Maldives. Personnally, I have a bucket list with about thirty travel destinations. When I look at the price of flights, I often chose the cheapest.
Traveling out of season
Obviously, I’m not saying to go to Miami during the hurricane season or in Greece during the winter. However, traveling off-season can reduce your travel budget by almost the half. I always tend to avoid summer for several reasons. The prices increase to the limit of ridiculous, the destinations are crowded with tourists and especially : I like to take advantage of the summer in the city where I live to do more activities. I am lucky to be independent and without children, so I avoid all school holidays in general.
There are so many destinations where the cost of living is cheaper and you can spend a holiday without depriving yourself. The first example that comes to my mind is Asia of course! If I compare what I spent in a week in Miami and a week in Bali, the choice is quick. Not to mention only far away destinations, the cost of life in southern Europe is much cheaper than in the north. To speak in a concrete example, a beer cost on average 1,20€ in Lisbon against 6€ in the center of Amsterdam.
Know how to book your trip
Once you have managed to save money and have chosen your destination, it’s time to book your trip.
Self-made is better
The more you avoid intermediaries, the more you avoid additional costs. I do not go through a travel agency to book my vacations and I avoid booking my transfers or meals already included. I book my transportation, so my flight in most cases, and my accommodation separately. This requires more research, but spending time booking my trip and comparing my options is also part of the game.
Choose your accommodation
Again, there is no miracle recipe : I can not travel seven to eight times during the year while staying in luxury hotels. When I go to warm and far away destinations, I like to go to hostels. This gives me the opportunity to meet many travelers while spending less. When I go on a weekend, I’m 100% part of the Airbnb team. There are so many great apartments for the price of a room in a basic hotel. A last tip : when you book a hotel, compare the price of the room with or without breakfast. Since some hotels charge over 15€ for a breakfast, you can also have a brunch in the city for that price.
Early bird or last minute ?
This is the dilemma of most vacationers. Regarding the early bird booking, I recommend it for families looking for an all inclusive stay. You will not pay cheaper your flight or hotel cheaper by booking 6 months in advance or more! In the case of last minute, I must say that it is a double or nothing bet. By booking your vacation a week in advance, you will probably have the chance to save money only if don’t have a specific travel destination in mind.
Choose your mean of transport
There are many different means of transport depending on your destination. Once again, everything is about comparison!
Car, car sharing, bus, train or plane
For far away destinations, you will have to take the plane. If you are traveling in your own country or bordering countries, then you will have several options. When I travel through France or Germany, I often take my car that I fill with either my friends or car-pooling website to share the costs. For long distances, there are also Flixbus or Eurolines, but you have to be patient. I avoid train in general, I find it excessively expensive! I’m lucky enough to live not far from several airports often served by low-cost airlines, so I often jump on a plane to discover Europe.
How to book your plane ticket cheaper
To pay your plane ticket cheaper you must be flexible with your dates. If you have specific travel dates, there is unfortunately no solution. For example, when I want to go on a long weekend, I compare the prices from Thursday to Sunday, from Friday to Monday or from Saturday to Tuesday to choose the cheapest option. The only comparator I use it Skyscanner, for me the best on the market. I try to maximize, however, to book my ticket directly to the airline’s website to avoid all hidden costs.
About the best period, you have to book your plane ticket about 7 to 8 weeks in advance for a short flight and between 5 and 2 months in advance for a long haul (these are statistics). Try to book your plane ticket midweek between Tuesday and Thursday. If possible, book with a different device than the one you use to compare prices. For example, compare prices with your phone and book from your computer to avoid cookies. If you want more tips to book your plane ticket at the best price, I can also write an article about it. I worked 3 years in this area.
Organize your stay once you are there
When I’m finally on vacation, I usually do not deprive myself, but there are still some small expenses that I pay attention to.
In general, I try to avoid rental cars : for the price, but also for the stress of driving in a foreign country with a car which is not mine. When I was on vacation with friends, I often grab an Uber (or Grab in Asia) for short trips. All alone, I go for classics public transport. In Southeast Asia in particular, you will find many trains, buses or low-cost ferries to travel easily across the country. I would recommend the bike for those who know how to manage it, but this is not my case yet.
I’m not on vacation for doing nothing, but there are always activities that I avoid on vacation. Things such as parasailing, water skiing or jet skiing are not part of my vocabulary. When I travel in a city, I try to find out if the city has a City Pass and what are the free activities. When traveling to a more distant country, I always compare prices of various must-see attractions before booking.
Where to eat during your holidays
My golden rule when traveling : eat local! Yes I like pizza, but that is not what I’m going to eat in Asia for example. Same fight with Spanish tapas that are deliciously cheap in Spain, but overpriced in northern Europe. Then, I avoid all the tourist areas where we find incredibly expensive restaurants for a mediocre quality. In fact, I eat local all day and if I want to treat myself with a good restaurant, I prefer to look on Tripadvisor before to not be disappointed.
And you, what are your tips to travel often or to save money while traveling ? Let me know in the comments, I’m super curious !