Having worked in the travel industry as well as booking and organising my own trips have taught me a thing or two about traveling on a budget. When I say budget, I don’t mean booking an 8 bed dorm, living off 2 minute noodles or hitchhiking either. Don’t get me wrong, I love 2 minute noodles, I’d stay in an 8 bed dorm but I’m the type of person who would rather hold my pee in for 8 hours than risk waking someone up and I wouldn’t mind trying out hitchhiking one day but I understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s completely fine. My fiancé for example, he’s only ever been overseas once before and that was to Fiji. He isn’t a big fan of flying, you see. So when we booked USA, we booked everything on the cheap while still making sure that he’ll be comfortable since that was his first big trip. I’ve made a list below of some tips, feel free to read along. After all, who doesn’t want to get more bang for their buck?
Keep an eye out for sales and deals by signing up to airline newsletters. If a destination does go on sale, before booking the flight, make sure you check out accommodation and transport prices first. I almost made this mistake by booking a flight to Hayman Island for 10 nights when it went on sale. Luckily I checked because they only had one hotel on the island and it would’ve cost me close to $7k to stay there for 10 nights. Lol! Statravel.com is also good website to look for flight deals. They offer you the option of being able to lay-by your flight. So at the time of booking, you’re only paying $99 per person deposit and you don’t have to pay the rest of it off until 8 weeks before your departure date. A few other apps that I use are Momondo and Skyscanner.
I scour the net for cheap accommodation 3-6 months in advance. I usually book hotels with free cancellation just in case I find another place to stay, whether it be better rated or cheaper, I can always cancel free of charge. I also use AirBnB. For those of you not familiar with AirBnB, it’s a website where you can request to stay with hosts with extra rooms, rent out an entire place all to yourself or even book a stay in unique places like igloos, castles or treehouses. We booked our accommodation for our USA trip on AirBnB and we met some pretty awesome people doing so. The only time we stayed in a hotel was in Los Angeles of which we spent most of our time wishing we stuck to AirBnb. If you’re worried about having to interact with your hosts because you’re not the social type, don’t be. You’re not obliged to interact with them, you are after all paying for your stay. Hosts understand that and they give you a lot of privacy.
When I’m overseas, I’m not gonna lie, I like to try their local cuisine. Therefore, I am constantly eating out. I can’t help it! Most of the time though, it’s cheaper to eat out of the CBD/touristy areas. Also, cook when you can. Another good thing about AirBnB is that most places allow you to utilise their kitchen. When you’re away for a significant amount of time, eating out for breakfast-lunch-dinner is a luxury you can’t afford specially when you’re traveling on a budget.
Depending on where you are, if their public transport is reliable, take advantage of it. Take the subway, the tube, the bus or whatever they have rather than catching a taxi from point A to point B. I found that taking the tube in London and catching the subway in NYC was quite straightforward. Just be wary when you’re planning on taking public transport late at night on your own. Another option you have is Uber. Uber have a few different ride options you can choose from. They have UberPool, which is when you get matched with other people who are going the same direction as you and you carpool, therefore you’re only getting charged for half of the fare. They also have UberX, which is a private ride. UberXL is for groups and UberSELECT is for a ride with a high rated driver and a high-end sedan. Although I believe that the availability of these options vary from city to city. Here’s the list of cities that have UberPool. Another ride app that you could use is Lyft, this one also gives you the opportunity to tip your driver after the trip has been completed.
Planning is key! Prior to the trip, I do a little research of points of interest in a city. By research, I mean I type in Google “what to do in new york”. Also, keep in mind that some tours would have to be booked in advance like Alcatraz in San Francisco or the Underground Colosseum tour in Rome. When arriving in a new city, the first thing I like to do is get a tourist city map. This gives me a general idea of where things are and how far apart each attraction is from one another. From there, I can plan which attractions I could potentially see in one day and which ones are a little bit further out. Another tip is to pack your most comfortable and fashionable sneakers because if you want to save some serious cash, you my friend, have got a lot of walking to do! Most major cities offer free walking tours, this is a great way to see the city for free!