Learning how to plan a cheap vacation isn’t hard – it’s about knowing the tricks of the travel trade!
A life of full-time travel means figuring out the best ways to travel extremely cheaply. Although I don’t have a rent payment or a car payment, I also don’t want to blow all of my money getting from place to place and seeing the places when I get there. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to do things as cheaply as possible while I’m on the road.
You don’t have to be a full-time traveler to want to take advantage of the ability to travel cheaply. In this blog post, I’ve put together some of my best tips and resources to help you figure how to plan a cheap vacation – and to help you get to your next vacation quicker!
1. Research, research, research.
My little sister is a research junkie. Seriously, she loves it and would rather spend her days scouring the Internet for the best deals and the best products than anything else. Maybe you’re not as much of an addict for research as she is, but in order to learn how to plan a cheap vacation, you’re going to have to start to love it. You’ll want to research everything – flights, places to stay, things to do, transportation. Planning a cheap vacation isn’t as easy as booking a luxury hotel through a travel agent – it requires some legwork.
2. Let technology help.
Have you ever heard of Skyscanner or Momondo? If you haven’t, get ready to love them. Skyscanner and Momondo are two of the resources listed on The LITMO Life’s Resources Page and they’re both there because I love them. Skyscanner has this amazing feature called an “Everywhere” search, where you can put in your departure airport and search all the destinations in the world. Skyscanner then provides you with a neat little list of destinations, in order from cheapest to most expensive. It’s incredible for the traveler that doesn’t mind taking advice on where to travel! Momondo is a similarly amazing website to find great travel deals.
3. Prioritize your “musts.”
You don’t really have to go to those expensive tourist traps and eat at all of those expensive tourist restaurants, do you? Let me answer that for you: no, you do not. You take vacations to get a break from your everyday life, but also to experience something new. Neither of those things requires spending bucketloads of money. Before you get to any location, prioritze the things you feel like you “must” do – and be smart about it. You don’t have to do everything on every top 10 list you can find about the place. Instead, choose the things you think you’ll love!
4. Be open to staying a town over.
Just because you’re visiting a big city doesn’t mean you have to stay in a big city. I know that what I’m about to say is the equivalent of going to Manhattan and staying in New Jersey – but seriously, it would be wicked cheaper to stay in Jersey! Just because you’re staying somewhere overnight doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time there – you can still spend all the time in the destination area of your choice (ahem, spend your days in Manhattan instead of Jersey)! But you’ll do it while saving some big bucks on where you sleep.
5. Skip the hotel.
Speaking of sleeping – please ditch the hotel. It’s 2017 and there are loads of other options for places to stay on vacation than just the standard, expensive hotels. You can try airbnb.com or couchsurfing.com or even search for a hostel at hostelword.com. Many hostels have private rooms – it’ll just be a slightly different environment than a hotel with a concierge. You’ll be glad you did – not just because you’ll save beaucoup bucks, but because you’ll often get the chance to meet a local who can tell you even more great things to see and do on your vacay.
6. Scout grocery stores before you arrive.
Yes – you can still eat out at those restaurants that you have read about in all the guidebooks, just not for every meal! Scout out a grocery store near your accommodations before you arrive, and when you get there, stock up on some of your favorites (or some things that look delicious and interesting if you are abroad and can’t find any of your favorites). You’ll be glad you did when you realize you’re not spending upwards of $20 on every meal. It’ll also help give you a break from the huge calories in restaurant foods.
7. Go for cheap or free, but still iconic, activities.
Sure, when you visit Orlando, you should see Disney at least one in your life. That said, you don’t need to visit the tourist trap locations everywhere you go. You can do cheap or free activities like seeing national parks or going on hikes or swimming in famous beaches. You don’t have to break the bank to have an amazing experience on your vacation!
8. Take public transit.
It can be tempting to want to take cabs everywhere in a new place, especially if you aren’t remotely familiar with the public transit system. But you don’t have to learn an entire system to learn how to take a bus or train from point A to point B. Plus, asking for help learning the transit system can force you to meet some locals! It’ll save you a lot of money and the extra time learning is worth it.
9. Ask for discounts.
Don’t be shy: ask if the people you are working with abroad can help you with discounts. For example, if you take a few day trips through the same tour company, ask if they can give you a bulk discount for working exclusively with them. Sure, sometimes it won’t work, and people won’t want to give you discounts, but it’s always worth asking!
10. Be flexible with your dates.
If you aren’t married to flying in and out on certain particular dates, you’ll be able to save a lot more money. Instead of asking for time off from work and then booking your trip, shop around to see what’s cheap and then see what time you can get off. Doing it in reverse will be worth it – sometimes hundreds of dollars in savings!
Or, you could just do what I did and quit your job to travel full-time!
Either way, if you’re interested in learning more about a financially sustainable travel life, check out my new book, “Quit Your Job & Travel The World: The Complete Guide To Making Your Dream A Reality”, available now on Amazon.