There are probably countless blogposts about how to travel on a budget. Let me start by telling you this article is not about the clear and obvious things. Although I could begin mentioning those as well, for good measure:
- Fly with low-cost airlines.
- Crash in hostels.
- Don’t go clubbing.
- Plan your trip in low season
- Don’t go on a shopping spree
- Go camping
These classics, although very true, can all seem like limitations on the awesomeness of your trip. If you’re like me, and you want to sleep in 20 star hotels and dine with Kings and Ladies, you’ll need some other way to maximize your budget. Let me share you five tricks I use to keep costs down while traveling:
1. Plan your trip three to two months in advance
Although last minute deals are a good option as well, generally, flights and hotels are cheapest when you book them three to two months before you plan on going. So, when it comes to your travels, manage your inner procrastinator and plan in advance.
2. Use google flights
There are plenty of flight-comparison sites out there, and they all claim to be the cheapest option, but I promise you: they are never. The cheapest option is almost always to book directly with the airline you are using. This is where google flight comes in. In my opinion, there is no better comparison/research tool for flights. You can select up to three departure airports (super handy if you live close to several airports), and browse through dates, destinations and prices.
3. Keep your dates flexible
Don’t limit yourself by having exactly seven days in which you want to fit your seven-day-vacation. Instead, free up a couple days before and after, so that you have room to move your trip around a little bit. The biggest price differences for flights often depend on the days you fly. You might actually save money by staying in paradise two days longer, no kidding. Use google flights’ ‘flexible dates’ planner to find the cheapest option for your trip.
4. Don’t book the first awesome hotel you see
Yes, I get it, you found an amazing place to stay at. Good job, but that’s not the hard part. Prices for accommodation can vary immensely, so before you decide to book, look for some alternatives. I use trivago to compare hotel prices, and compare that with what I find on sites like Airbnb. Often times, there are deals to be found. I’ve never spent more than €100 on one night, but I’ve stayed in some amazing places.
5. Reach out
What now? Did you already book that deal you found? Shame on you*, because accommodation follows the same laws as flights. Never book on a booking site. 9 times out of 10, if you find a deal on a booking site, it’ll be even cheaper on the hotel website itself. If it isn’t, e-mail or call the hotel and ask them directly. Booking sites take a commission, so a hotel should always be able to do better…
*unless if it was an Airbnb. You’re allowed to book airbnb’s on Airbnb, although it never hurts to reach out to the home owner and ask about the price. Just remember to stay polite and respect their business as well 🙂