The key to cheap and frequent travel isn’t one magic savings tip – it’s a combination of saving, budgeting and knowing the right times and places to travel. If you want to travel around the world on a regular basis and travel cheap, these tips and tricks are for you:
Force yourself to save money
It’s one thing to transfer money from your checking account to a savings account and call it ‘saving.’ It’s another completely when you force yourself to save by putting your extra money somewhere out of reach. Do this by opening a CD or rewards savings account with a DIFFERENT BANK other than your main checking account. After you open the account, ask your employer to direct deposit a set amount of your paycheck into this account. This will put your extra money out of sight, out of mind and won’t tempt you to spend. A few of our favorite savings accounts and CDs are:
Barclays Dream Account (Savings Account) – No minimum deposit, great interest rates and rewards. The rewards get better the longer you save. You also don’t get penalized for touching your money.
Ally Bank High Yield CD – No minimum deposit, decent interest rates and you can put your money here for as little as 6 months. Great for vacation planning.
GE Capital High Yield CD – Great interest rates with a minimum $500 deposit. This CD is available from 6 months to 6 years.
Be deliberate about your travel plans
Start Small – If you’re a first time traveler, start small. Go somewhere abroad, but still closer to home and cheap. If you’re from the U.S., Mexico or Central America are great places to start.
Travel in the offseason – After you choose a destination, find out when the best time to visit is – and then go a few months before or after. Flights, hotels and hostels will all be cheaper.
Travel between jobs – If you’re starting a new job, push back your start date and take a longer vacation. Once you start another full-time job, it’s harder to take off weeks at a time. Traveling between jobs also affords you complete peace of mind. You won’t have any projects to think about, emails to answer or angry bosses to worry about.
Stop saving your vacation days – They’re called vacation days for a reason. If you’re not happy with the amount of days you are getting, you can always ask for more instead of that bonus, or look for a completely different job with better vacation days. There are many employers out there that offer 15-20 days per year and a lot of non-profits offer even more than that!
Don’t blow your entire budget on the plane ticket
There are so many flight deals and rewards programs out there. Don’t break the bank by spending all of your savings on flights.
Sign up for miles – almost all airlines partner with banks and credit card companies for some kind of miles program. Find the one that’s right for you and sign up. You’ll be surprised how fast you can earn a free trip
Budget when you’re in country
This is a big one. Getting to your destination is exciting, but don’t forget you’re still on a budget. If you want to travel to more places that year, you have to stay on track with your spending.
Stay in Hostels – Don’t let the word ‘hostel’ scare you. Many hostels are every bit as nice as hotels, and often more fun. In fact, you’ll probably meet more interesting people and get great travel advice from them. Hostels can be as cheap as $10/night. The Vista Serena hostel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica is a great example. Only $12/night, and look at that view!
Eat where locals eat – if you’re in a major city, chances are there will be overpriced restaurants and bars near your hotel or hostel. Ask around and find out where the locals eat. If you’re staying longer than a few weeks, buy groceries!
Free entertainment – No matter where you are, there is going to be plenty to do for free. Major cities will have free concerts, street festivals, and plenty of other exciting cultural experiences that don’t burn a hole in your wallet. National parks, beaches and hiking are also cheap alternatives.