While your days of backpacking and hostels may be far behind you, that doesn’t mean your travel budget rivals that of, say, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend. Here are six tips to help you stretch your travel budget so you can live your best life abroad and at home.
Set fare alerts
You know the old travel adage—if at first you don’t find a good flight price, set a fare alert. No? Okay, well the advice still holds. It’s not too often that I book a flight based on one search. Sometimes, I compare prices across the fare compare matrix; other times, I set a fare alert in hopes that the price will drop and I can snag a deal. When a price does drop, Hipmunk sends a push notification right to my phone—as well as a reminder email, for good measure—so I can swipe, tap, and book my bargain flight in less than a minute.
Save on baggage fees
In the age of a la carte travel, it’s helpful to know what amenities are included in your fare—and what you’ll need to fork over additional cash for. One pesky, yet prevalent, added cost is baggage fees. Fortunately, when you’re booking a flight with Hipmunk, you can filter your results to know ahead of time what the airline might charge you for carrying on or checking a bag.
1. Enter your flight criteria and dates, then click search.
2. Once the results load, navigate over and click the ‘Show me’ dropdown on the right, then select ‘Baggage’.
3. Along the far right column, you can view what the airline might charge you for a carry-on and your first checked bag.
This way, you’re armed with the knowledge of what additional costs lie ahead. And you can choose your flight based on the total cost, instead of the allure of a low-cost or basic economy fare.
Book a vacation rental
Staying in a vacation rental versus a hotel is a great way to save money in many cities, especially in locations with an inflated hotel market. On average, you save by staying at a vacation rental in 38 of the top 50 US cities, according to our data. Booking an entire home is especially beneficial for group or family trips—providing enough space for everyone to have their own room, while offering a communal spot to hang out or plan the day’s adventure.
Cook your own meals
One of my favorite perks about booking a vacation rental is access to a kitchen. Cooking your own meals on vacation is not only cost-effective, it’s healthier for you, too. Meanwhile, you’re able to engage in local experiences that you might otherwise miss if you ate every meal in restaurants—like, grocery shopping in foreign countries; perusing local farmers markets; meeting vendors and buying direct from the source. Cooking your own meals—and the prep work it entails—means getting an authentic feel for a place, at a price your wallet will love you for.
Embrace public transportation
Any big city dweller can tell you the cost of riding public transportation is far, far cheaper than hailing a cab or even splitting a ride share. To save money when traveling, do as the locals do and embrace the public transit systems to get around town. Not only is it more economical, it’s more environmentally-friendly and it’s often a unique way to see a city. Plus, many major cities—like Oslo, Prague, and Barcelona—offer combo travel passes with admission to attractions such as museums, aquariums, soccer stadiums, and more.
Find free things to do
Of course, the most effective way to travel on a budget is to spend no money at all. And there are loads of free activities available in every type of destination. In big cities, look for free walking tours, where local guides will offer their services for gratuity only; across the United Kingdom (as an example) entry to many museums is free; hiking is free (not to mention a great workout and low maintenance fun); checking out street art and murals is free—Detroit has a stunning collection of murals located in the Eastern Market District (and across much of the city, for that matter), where artists from all over the world, including those local to Detroit, have transformed the walls of the district into a must-see destination; many public events, like outdoor movies in NYC’s Central Park or Bryant Park, are also free.
Mix in free fun with bargain airfare and home-cooked meals, and soon your friends will start asking for your travel tips, too.