By Joyell Nevins
Seeing exotic locales, experiencing different cultures, getting a new perspective – with all these joys of travelling, why isn’t everyone doing it? One of the major obstacles wannabe adventurers face is funding. Travelling can become very expensive, very quickly. But we at Lifestyle Collective, would like to help you clear that hurdle.
Here are some basic tips and tricks from those in the know about how to go where you want to go, and not break the bank in the process:
How To Find Cheap Flights
One of the largest travelling expenses can be flights. Before logging on to your preferred travel site and gasping at the flight prices, though, keep these suggestions in mind.
Yes, your computer really does track you… at least when it comes to flights. Those “cookies” you have to accept at the bottom of many websites record what routes you are searching, and sites often use that information to boost a flight price or give you that scary message that “there are only two tickets left!”
To thwart this action, you can use a different computer, which contains a different IP address or browse in incognito or private mode. Every time you open an incognito window in your internet browser, the cookies are reset so sites cannot track your searches.
If you’re using Google Chrome, open the File tab and click “New Incognito Window.” If you’re browsing through Safari, click “New Private Window” under the File tab. For Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer, hit command+shift+P for Macs, and control+shift+P for PCs.
Get A Flight Watchdog
If you don’t have to buy your flights today, there are certain apps and websites that are skilled in searching for and finding flight deals. We recommend you try:
- Hopper – an app that analyses billions of prices daily to predict how prices will change and tells you whether to buy or wait. Following their advice has saved users up to 40 percent on flights.
- Scott’s Cheap Flights – this website is super helpful if you are flexible on your destination. When you sign up, put in the cities you’re departing from, and Scott’s staff scours the web and sends daily alerts for cheap flights leaving from that location. Their users have saved up to 90 percent off of normal flight prices.
- AirFareWatchDog – this site operates under a similar concept as Scott’s. You put in your preferred route and AirFare staff searches over 20,000 routes daily to find the best deals. You can search or set alerts for fares going to a city, and fares coming from a city. AirFare also has alerts for hotels as well.
Turn a Layover into a Mini-Vacation
This idea comes courtesy of Thrifty Nomads, who suggest turning extended layovers into stopovers. If you’re making a long trip with at least two flights anyway, find one that stops in a city you want to visit. You can then turn that layover into a “stopover,” the travel term for a layover that is 24 hours or more, so you can explore the city!
You can do this on your own, searching for different flight search engines, and building your own itinerary. You can also use a site like Airwander, a flight metasearch engine that uses automated flight hacking techniques to tell you how much adding a stopover would cost: in most cases, under $50, in some cases, it even saves you money,
Travel search engine Kiwi has a similar search option called “Nomad,” under the Return/One Way tab. Enter the destinations you would like to visit, the length of time, and possible dates, and Kiwi will calculate the best and cheapest route among all of them.
Some airports even offer free city tours if you’re on a long layover. It doesn’t require an extra visa, as you are considered an “in transit” passenger. Try to fly through one of these airports, and add an extra destination for next to nothing:
- Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore. Two city tours offered daily if your layover is 6 hours or more. As a side bonus, this airport is like a destination in itself, with a swimming pool, butterfly garden, free movie theatre, and a cultural museum.
- Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea. Eight different tours are available from 1 to 5 hours each.
- Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei, Taiwan. Two daily tours, requiring a layover of at least 7 hours.
- Tokyo Narita Airport, Tokyo, Japan. Eight different tours of three hours each.
- Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah. Tours leave on the hour seven times a day.
Redeem Your Flight Miles
If you use credit cards and have a good credit score, sign up for an air-mile credit card. Although many of them have annual fees and high interest, these cards often offer introductory bonuses that will almost pay for your first flight.
You can sign up with a specific airline, such as Southwest, American, United, Virgin, and Delta Airlines, or British Airways. Those credit cards often come with travel perks, such as free upgrades, special clubs, and bonus miles from travel-related purchases. However, the miles you earn can only be redeemed with that airline.
You can also open a credit card that earns you general miles off of general purchases. The best way to earn miles is actually on the ground, not in the air, by using cards like these:
If you have a large purchase to make, use the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite. They have the highest introductory bonus at 70,000 miles, but it requires at least $5,000 worth of purchases in the first 90 days.
Travel During Off-Peak Season
Hotels call it the “off peak” season for a reason – when there are fewer tourists flocking to an area, places will often reduce prices to keep their visitor numbers high. Every region’s off-peak time is different, but here is a general overview, courtesy of CNN Travel:
- Tropics – travel in the rainy season. Most tourists visit the tropics during its sunniest times. If daily rain doesn’t bother you, plan your tropical island vacations between June and October.
- Snowy Caps and Deserts – during the hottest months of the year, deserts and ski spots often drop their prices.
- Hot, hot, hotter – Even though vacation spots in places like Florida and the Mediterranean temperatures don’t drop considerably, their off-season is still the winter months.
Think Outside the Housing Box
If you’re looking for accommodation deals, websites such as Hotwire and Booking have connections with hotels across the world to fill their rooms on the cheap. As a side note, be wary of booking activities through the resort when you arrive. Hotels often jack up prices or get a commission on the events they promote. Always try to go directly to the source, or wait until you arrive to see what’s available.
If you really want to stay in a location inexpensively, think beyond the hotel. Airbnb was one of the first sites to popularise personal owners’ renting their homes or apartments for less money than the average hotel, but they aren’t the only ones.
Trusted Housesitters allows members to exchange free accommodation for free pet care across the world, from New Zealand to the United Kingdom to Africa and in between. You pick the city, stay in someone’s house while they are gone, take care of their pets, and get free housing in return. The only charge is the site’s departing annual fee.
If you’d rather meet the owners of the house where you are staying, try Couchsurfing. Free to join, Couchsurfing connects those willing to play host with eager travellers on a budget. You stay in a room in someone’s house completely free. Couchsurfing also connects travellers in the same city through various Meetup events.
So when it comes to travelling the world, the question isn’t “how much money do you have?” – it’s “where do you want to go?” With a little extra time and ingenuity, you can plan your dream vacation for a fraction of the price.