12 Tips to Affordable Travel
One of the most common phrases when people are thinking of travelling is: “it’s too expensive”. Yet, there are ways to minimize those costs. It’ll take some planning, researching, and being flexible. Here are 12 tips to help you to travel in the most economical way possible:
Book your flights in advance
Contrary to popular belief, last minute tickets will typically cost you more than booking in advance. This is because most airlines have what are called, ‘advance purchase’ rules. These advance purchase regulations restrict certain fares to be sold if they aren’t booked many days in advance. For economy class tickets, many airlines will have 3 day, 7 day, and much longer AP period. If you have the option to book ahead – do so! The closer you get to booking near the departure date, the less options you’ll typically have for the lowest economy fare.
Be flexible with your destinations & dates
This one is huge! If you’re looking to travel somewhere, but aren’t necessarily sure where – look at price options first. For example, if you’re looking to travel from Canada to Europe, look at different airports as some are more popular, have higher tax rates, and are often busy.
If you’re set on the destination, try to play around with your dates. It can sometimes make a big difference if you can travel during the week rather than on the weekend. Keep in mind that some airlines also consider Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to all be weekend days. Try travelling on a Tuesday or Wednesday, this could potentially save you some money.
Try staying a hostel or splitting an Airbnb
Hostels are an amazing option if you’re on a budget. Quite often you’ll be in a room with 3 or more people, but you’ll have your own bed and locker for your baggage. Stay tuned for an article specifically on hostel tips. Hostels are amazing because you’ll often meet others from around the world, and sometimes make life-long friendships.
If you’re travelling with a group, I would suggest trying an Airbnb or similar option. Splitting costs between a group can be extremely economical if you research options. Keep in mind the location of the Airbnb. If you don’t have a car, or local transit to help you out, how will you get there?
Try couch surfing
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, and you’re on a really tight budget – try couch surfing. You can sign up for an account for free, and connect with a network of people will to give up their couch for you. You’ll have to do some research, chat with people, and see exactly what they’re offering and if they’re looking for anything in return. Sometimes, guests cook a meal or two, then stay for free in an extra bed or couch the homeowner has.
Get a card that doesn’t charge you foreign transaction fees
This is one that people often don’t consider. Nowadays, there are many different companies which will actually offer this as an option. If you find yourself travelling often, this could save you quite a bit in the end!
Travel with carry-on only (avoid checked bag fees)
Travelling with a carry-on has a major convenience factor attached to it. You’re not dragging this huge bag upon your arrival and everywhere you go. Not only that, it’s typically the more economical option. Depending on where you’re travelling to, some airlines will charge you to bring a checked in bag. Avoid this by just taking your carry-on.
Smaller and more economical airlines are actually beginning to charge for carry-on, and checked baggage. If you’re not travelling for a long period of time, even just take a personal item (ex. Backpack) instead. Always check the regulations with the airline you’re travelling with before departure.
Book your seat for your flight during 24hr check-in period
Many airlines now charge for advanced seating reservations. Though, if you’re not someone who requires to pick their seat in advance, then wait until the check-in period opens up! Most airlines have a 24 hour check-in period of which they allow you to pick your seat and get your boarding pass. Consider this as an option!
Do your research!
Research, research, research! When you’re looking for accommodation, take in consideration the location. Are there grocery stores around where I can buy food rather than always eating out at restaurants? Is there local transit, or how will I get around? If you avoid doing research before booking, this is the first step to overspending!
Talk to the locals
I cannot stress this tip enough. Who knows better about the area than the locals? You can ask them about economical restaurants, tours, local happenings in the city, etc. More often than not, they’re happy to share about the gems of their city.
Use a budgeting app
There are many budgeting apps nowadays which can be used. My suggestion would be to use one which you can use on-the-go (a mobile option is typically best). For example, YNAB (You Need a Budget), is a successful and visual option to use.
Budgeting should be looked at before your trip begins. Sit down, plan the costs of accommodation, travel, food, fun, etc. Categorize how much you have to spend with each section, and you’re off to a good start!
Collect reward points
There are many options for reward points. If you’re planning on travelling often, it may be a good idea to sign up for frequent flyer accounts with your preferred airline. You can rack up points each time you fly, and use those towards future flights, upgrades , or rewards.
Signing up with a credit card that has travel perks, is also a fantastic idea. Do some research on the best card that works for you. Many allow you to collect reward points, use them to book flights, accommodation, pay off bills, purchase items, etc. Many of them also include medical, travel, or cancellation insurance. Here’s a list of some of the top cards, according to rewardscanada.ca.
Do free walking tours
Tours can be an expensive item to your trip. While travelling, if you want to check out the ‘must-see’ spots, the prices can add up quickly. People often don’t consider free walking tours though, which are quite often an option.
These are common when staying in a hostel, too. Your guide will usually take you on a tour through the city, stopping at hidden gems and giving you some background history. Often, these can be more valuable than hitting the busy tourist spots, paying the entrance fees and waiting in line.