Travel can be expensive, whether it's the high gas prices, hotel or airline costs. Sadly, this limits the number of trips you can take every year or how long you can stay in a new city. But what if I told you there are ways to cut down on the cost of your next trip?
My name is Audrey, and I am a serial traveler. More like a digital nomad. But I like to say ‘serial traveler’ cos it makes me sound mysterious. Lol.
Many people travel for different reasons. Some people travel d for work, to see family, or for medical reasons. A handful of people travel for the pleasure of seeing the world. This is where you’d find me.
Traveling is a hobby. Traveling forces me out of my comfort zone to experience different adventures, people, and cultures. Creativity inspires creativity. And as a digital content curator, I need to keep up my creativity to stay relevant.
The best thing about traveling is the food. Yeah, I'm a bit of a foodie. And through my travels, I have come to understand that sometimes the local dish of a particular city tastes authentic in the city from which it hails. So my friends, if you haven’t had a jibarito sandwich from Chicago, you probably haven't had the real thing.
How I Prepare For A Trip
Taking it back to the basics.
Decide where I’m going: Most times, deciding where I’m going doesn’t take long. I always have a wish list of cities in America to visit. But sometimes, I have the itch to visit a city I have been to for the 2nd or 3rd time. Whether it’s a new city, I decide where to visit based on budget and weather. And I think this has made the bulk of my travel experiences pleasant.
Research: After deciding where I want to go, I research the place. How to get there, cultural practices, best places to live, travel requirements, and places to visit. At this point, if my findings aren’t making me excited, or maybe I find that the city is closed to tourists (which happened a lot during the peak of COVID), I’d have to choose a different place.
Budget: This is the point where I list everything I’d need for/on my trip and how much money they’d cost, from transportation costs to feeding, accommodation, adventure, and shopping. That way, I never end up in a financially uncomfortable or stressful situation. Budgeting just makes a huge difference. I also allocate funds for miscellaneous.
Ensure my IDs are up to date: One of the worst things when preparing for a trip is finding out your ID is expired. I strongly advise against traveling with an expired ID. Whether passports, residential permits, or local ID, ensure they are up to date. And for road trips, I would ensure my driver's license and car registration are not expired.
Flying or road trip? It depends on my mood, comfort, and of course, budget. Road trips often cost less, and I almost always opt for them. But sometimes, I decide to treat myself and go by air. In that case, I would book my flight tickets. But for road trips, I get my car checked just to ensure everything is okay with it. I can’t imagine dealing with a broken-down vehicle.
Book accommodation: I always book accommodation ahead of time. That way, I have enough time to find what works for me at an extremely affordable rate. I usually do Airbnb. They are cheaper and give me a more homey vibe. Very different from what you get in hotels.
Book tours/adventure: Before my trip, I prepare my itinerary and book tours. Preparing my itinerary and booking tours ahead of time is part of my budgeting process. That way, I don't overload myself with activities or spend way more than I can handle.
Mindset check: It may sound cliche, but keeping an open mind when going to a new place is extremely important. Your travel experience can be greatly influenced by how you accept and embrace the local culture of the city or community. You won't enjoy the trip if you have a closed-off mindset or negative preconceived notions. I like to prepare my mind by looking forward to the local dishes, adventures, and history.
Get ready for the new adventure: This involves health checkups, shopping, and packing my suitcase. Before going on any major trip, I do a basic health checkup. Just to make sure I’m okay and avoid suddenly falling sick when I’m supposed to be exploring the new city. Also, depending on where I am visiting and what the weather is like, I’d often do some shopping. For example, if I’m visiting Hawaii, I’d often get some sexy beachwear. But if I’m preparing for a visit to Alaska, I’d get some winter boots and sweaters.
How To Save Money On Travel Expenses
A few tips:
Consider a road trip over flying: You'll see many cheap flight prices in a country as large as the US, but none compare to taking the old-fashioned road trip. RV trips or camping provide a different experience and save you a lot of money. You can save extra money by camping in free public campgrounds.
Try different airlines and airports to get a better flight price: Different airlines offer discounts on certain flights. Be sure to compare prices before proceeding to book. Also, flight prices could change depending on how much luggage you have. Most cheap flights usually offer one luggage allocation. It’s advantageous to travel light.
Apartment rentals: Apartment rentals are the best options for families and groups of people traveling. And smaller apartments like studios or private rooms are also perfect for solo travelers. Apartment rentals are cheaper than the average price of hotels. And in apartments, you can save money on eating out by cooking your meals.
Travel outside of peak season: Travelling outside peak season is not only a way to avoid crowds, traffic, and long lines but also a way to get better deals on flight tickets and accommodation. Airfares are usually 41% more expensive during the holiday season than during non-holiday seasons.
Utilize tourist attraction passes: They can save you a ton of money in popular destinations.
Strategically choose your travel time and day: Fares rise and fall with air traffic. Early mornings and late nights are less popular and more affordable times to fly. You should fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturday afternoons to land a deal on domestic flights. Also, check Google Flights or Kayak Explore to see the cheapest times to fly.
Explore tourist-free tourist sights: Expenses on Sightseeing activities do not have to break the bank. Prioritize the free tourist attractions over the ones that cost money.
My Overall Top Websites for Travel Deals
Many websites help you find the best prices on flights, accommodation, and tours. But to make your life easier, I’d list a few of my personal favorites.
Skyscanner: This search engine compares prices on websites and airlines around the globe to give you the most affordable rates.
Intrepid Travel: This tour company is perfect for solo travelers because they hire local guides. That way, you know you won’t get lost while exploring.
Booking.com: Find hotels around the world.
Agoda.com: Find hotels at a discounted price.
FlixBus: A budget-friendly bus company that routes across Europe and parts of the USA.
Megabus: Also a budget-friendly bus company. Routes throughout Europe, Canada, and the US.
Camp space: Formerly known as Camp in My Garden, this app connects you with locals renting out land, RVs, cabins, and camper vans at affordable rates.
Hostelworld: Find budget-friendly hostels around the world.
Airbnb: Best apartment booking site.
Traveling across America doesn’t have to be expensive. You can visit your dream city without breaking the bank with proper preparations. Saving money on travel can give you more freedom to spend on other things, whether on your dream wedding or your new business.