New travel destinations have been on my mind since we got back from Scotland in August. Since we got back, I've been brainstorming locations that are more affordable, and I've also been thinking on how to make our next trip even more of a money-saver than Scotland. It's no joke that travel costs money, but there's a stigma that says hey, you've gotta be rich to travel, but that's not always the case. Earlier in the year I wrote a post on how I save money in order to travel here; saving money on travel expenses before and during your trip is super important. Here are a couple of tricks + tips I've been implementing to make my next trip a reality.
1. Use hotel alternatives
Hotels are an easy way to rack up a huge bill while traveling. A hotel room can easily cost well over $200 per night in a major city like Paris, Edinburgh, or Sydney, but thankfully there are great hotel alternatives!
My favorite hotel alternative is Airbnb. Through Airbnb you're able to rent homes from locals and there are tons of options based on your preferences. For example, if you're traveling solo, you can rent a room in someone's apartment. If you're traveling with a large group, you can rent out an entire home. A group of my friends went to Nashville in November for a weekend and we saved so much money by using Airbnb. In only cost $86 a person for two nights and we had the entire house to ourselves. Another perk of Airbnb is that you do have access to common areas like kitchens and living rooms. You can prepare your own meals which saves even more money, and the entire group can hang out together in the living room. I'm a huge Airbnb fan, if you can't tell. ;) I've used this site in the US and abroad, and have had excellent experiences so far. My only recommendation is to read the reviews left for the rental by previous renters. These can tell a lot about the location, ease of access, and cleanliness of the space. Rule of thumb, only book a place if there are positive reviews. If there aren't reviews, I recommend looking for a different place.
Another good way to save money through hotel alternatives is to stay in hostels. Hostels are normally meant for younger or solo travelers and are typically dorm-style rooms. I spent two weeks in Australia living in hostels and had the time of my life! Hostels can sometimes catch a bad rap, but I have had some of my favorite travel memories in accommodations like these. It's such a great way to bond with people you've just met and to save money. The only downside is that they're pretty small. We stayed in a dorm-sized room with six girls & all of our luggage and three sets of bunk beds. You can also expect a shared bathroom, but the hostels I've stayed in had clean communal restrooms. I've had great experiences with hostels, but that doesn't mean there aren't shady ones out there (there are plenty of shady hostels). Just be sure to research the hostel before booking. Again, reviews are key.
2. Plan meals ahead of time
It's no exaggeration that eating out during your travels can be pricey! The good news is that if you plan your meals, eating out can be affordable.
During my recent trip to Scotland, Michael and I planned strategically to make sure our meal costs were low. We did this in a couple of ways, the first being by eating brunch. We were able to save so much money and still get an awesome experience by combining breakfast and lunch into one meal. We would sleep in a little bit or adventure around our locale early and head to grab a full breakfast at around 10:00 am. The key here is eating more than a bagel or bowl of cereal. Eat something hearty and it'll hold you over til dinnertime. Voila, you only eat two meals in a day.
The second and more cost-friendly option is to eat in. This doesn't sound like a super fun way to spend a vacation, but Michael and I actually enjoy cooking so it's not such a chore. Go exploring in a local market (bonus points if it's an open-air market) and try your hand at an authentic local dish. This is especially easy if you can stay at an Airbnb with a full kitchen. It's super easy to wake up in the morning with your purchased ingredients and make a delicious breakfast or settle in for a home cooked dinner with friends or other loved ones. Doing this during my time in Australia actually ended up being some of the best memories that I made there.
Lastly, you can plan to eat more inexpensive meals during the day and spend a little more money for a nice dinner. This is what I prefer to do during travel, even if it's just a couple times per trip. It gives you something to look forward to throughout the day - like a warm pasta on a cold day, or a fresh catch in a coastal destination - but allows you to stay on budget. Cook in your Airbnb for brunch, and eat out at a nice restaurant for dinner.
3. Find the perfect flight price
Be patient. The flight price in your budget will come about, but only if you wait for it. I am the type of person who generally has zero patience, but when it comes to saving hundreds of dollars I can hold my horses. Wait it out. Do research. See how the prices fluctuate and purchase when it hits the price you've been waiting for. The key here is to be prepared to purchase at any time, meaning being prepared to buy at 7:00 am or 11:00 pm - whenever the price drops. It's tough to wait it out, especially when you're so, so excited for your trip, but saving money in one place means you can spend it on something way more fun than a plane ticket - think bungee jumping or your elevator ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower!
4. Travel locally!
Although it may seem that I'm always coveting an international destination, I'm all for traveling in the US. There are some crazy good places to see like Seattle, Washington, DC, New York City, or Chicago, and even some cities in my own backyard like Columbus, Nashville, and Indianapolis. There's never a trip that's too small to be an adventure, and traveling locally has been higher on my list lately. I recently flew to Madison, Wisconsin for a weekend with my dad and we had the absolute best time! I also visited Nashville, Tennessee last month with my friends for a collective birthday celebration and we had a great trip. You don't have to go across an ocean to have a great trip; sometimes the best destination is right here.
So what are your favorite ways to save money during travel? Let me know, and your tips may be incorporated into an upcoming post!
Hi, I'm Madeline
Blogger, teacher, writer, traveler, reader. Welcome to Mad's Muses!
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