According to whom? You do not need Oprah’s money to travel! If traveling is something that you wish to pursue and is a priority, all it takes is discipline, sacrifice, and research. “Sacrifice what?” you may ask. Sacrifice those tangibles that will only provide you with temporary gratification. Everyone has their poison of choice, and thank God shopping is no longer mine. The same money that I once used to splurge on clothes, make-up, and other items that I most likely already owned, is now being used for my newfound passion – traveling. I’m not suggesting that you stop indulging completely…just do it in moderation. I would grace Ulta with my presence several times per week, knowing I needed nothing from there. Since I’ve become more disciplined, Ulta has not laid eyes on my face in several months. Ok, maybe not several months…more like one and a half months. Lol. It seems like it has been forever though.
Take advantage of the Matrix Airfare Search and utilize it to find cheap flights. This software will allow you to view the price of flights using exact dates or prices over the span of a month. The latter, of course, is the most economical route. If you do nothing else, subscribe to The Flight Deal! This is where I have learned about the majority of the deals I’ve taken advantage of. I always say The Flight Deal is for those travelers like myself, those who do not have a destination. For those travelers that don’t allow their fate to be determined by flight deals, use websites like Airfare Watchdog to set flight alerts. In addition to researching your destination, be sure to research its peak and non-peak travel months. Traveling during non-peak months is guaranteed to save you money. However, non-peak months may sometimes equate to undesirable weather conditions.
When searching for accommodations, don’t forget to search Airbnb!! I have taken advantage of their low rates on a few occasions and have yet to encounter any issues. Airbnb does not always trump hotels though. Weigh your options and strongly consider the hosts’ reviews and extra fees. I was searching for accommodations in another country, and I noticed that a lot of the hosts on Airbnb required you to purchase an electricity card from the store, in addition to performing other tasks that I found to be unreasonable. Ummm…no thanks!!! Hotel it is. When choosing a hotel, take advantage of promotions; use your AAA discount if you’re a member; if you work for the federal or state government, take advantage of that discount; pay your hotel balance in advance if you can; and join rewards programs so you can accumulate points and earn free nights/flights.
I almost forgot! If a carry-on is free, bring that instead of a checked bag. This will save you at least $50 and a 30-minute wait in baggage claim. If you’re traveling with Spirit or Frontier, a carry-on bag is actually $5 more each way. That’s $10 roundtrip and a drink when you arrive at your destination. I’m not a light packer, so if I can pack a carry-on, you can as well. Visit the Transportation Security Administration for its policy on carry-on luggage. If you absolutely have to check a bag and you’re traveling with a close acquaintance, then share the cost of the bag and only pack one.
While money is required to travel, beaucoup money isn’t. Take it from someone who has an advanced degree in a public service field (what was I thinking?) and hella student loans. There are several resources available that will provide you with the knowledge necessary to locate deals and save money. The question is are you willing to put in the time and effort it takes to conduct research and educate yourself using tools that are only a click away? Now, I know I didn’t include every travel hack there is, but I did try to include as much as possible without overwhelming you. What are some travel hacks you use to make traveling more affordable?
Update: Airfare Spot has become one of my favorite flight deal websites. Because I no longer have the time to check websites religiously, I follow both The Flight Deal and Airfare Spot on twitter. I also subscribe to them, meaning I get instant notifications to my phone whenever they publish a tweet. I also utilize Hopper to obtain flight predictions. I recently booked a flight, but before I booked, I checked Hopper and was advised to book it asap because the price would most likely increase. One resource that has definitely become a staple is IFTTT, an abbreviated version of “If This, Then That.” This app contains several different applets that perform a number of services. If you can’t find one that meets your needs, then create your own. I created several applets that notify me whenever Miami, Tampa, Orlando, or Lauderdale is mentioned in either of the above mentioned websites’ feeds.
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