Air travel has gotten much cheaper, budget destinations have exploded in popularity, and the Internet makes it easier than ever to find great deals. But you do still have to be smart with your money to keep travel costs low, so use these hacks to make your next trip your most budget-friendly one yet.
1. Make a budget (a realistic one).
So, “make a budget” sounds less like a cool hack and more like a boring item on your to-do list, but it’s key to keeping your travel finances in check. A useful budget is more than just finding the cheapest hotels and restaurants in your destination, though. (“I heard Thailand has $1 noodles and $3 dorms – I’ll budget $5 a day!”)
It’s critical to be realistic: will you be happy staying in crowded dorms night after night and eating nothing but street food three times a day? Get realistic about the accommodations and meals you’ll actually want to have on your trip, and budget accordingly. And don’t forget that travel expenses are more than just hotels and food. You need to include the cost of things like flights, local transportation, and visas, not to mention your admission to the Louvre, trek to Mt. Everest, or safari in Kenya.
2. Go incognito.
With hundreds of airlines and dozens of ticketing websites (Kayak, Expedia, Google Flights, the list goes on), it can be hard to figure out where you should search for flights. But no matter which website you’re using, one of the most important things is to set your browser to incognito mode. This prevents the websites you search from remembering what you’re looking for – and using that information to hike up the prices they show you!
3. Travel in shoulder season.
If you’re used to travelling in high season (when, admittedly, the weather is probably best), the prices at other times of year might shock you – in a good way! During the off-season, flight and hotel prices can plummet, and you’re also more likely to be able to negotiate for discounts. For the best combination of low prices and decent weather (and relatively fewer crowds), aim for shoulder season, the sweet spot just before or after the peak months.
4. Travel slow.
You might get a hundred likes on a Facebook post that reads “Travelling Europe – 10 days, 12 countries, and 15 different cities!! <heart emoji><train emoji><globe emoji>” But a trip like that won’t let you experience much in each place – and it won’t come cheap, either. Travelling slower not only means fewer transportation costs, it can also mean discounted accommodations, bulk-rate activities, and the time to seek out the best deals in each place you visit. If you want to travel cheap, try to travel slow.
Now more than ever, you don’t have to be rich to travel, especially if you visit budget-friendly destinations. But no matter where you go, use tips like these to stretch your dollars further – after all, cheaper trips can mean more trips, and isn’t that the goal?