My husband and I spend a lot of time and money each year traveling. When we first got together, this was our bonding time to disconnect from a busy lifestyle, relax on a beach or two, and reconnect with each other. The only thing I would say that has changed, is having a child, which means either spending more time planning trips that are kid/family friendly, or figuring out if we should do the trip with one person, two people or all three of us. My husband and I do try to make sure that we can get away with just the two of us from time to time, since we know the importance of spending quality time in a marriage and we are both committed to that. Also, as much as we love our son, he can be downright crazy on the plane rides and it's nice to know we won't have to deal with that if we do a couples' trip.
However, in the world of travel, we definitely do what the young kids say these days, "Ball on a Budget." In fact, we have a travel savings' account and delegate funds weekly to it, so we aren't scrambling on our next big adventure. Most of our travel has consisted of finding the deals and making sure to stay within budget. I would say over the last few years, we've learned a thing or two about how to get the best deals when it comes to travel. I started a list of tips that I wanted to share below for the newbies or folks who just want to figure out to make their travel dreams come true.
5 Tips To Travel Cheap Anywhere in the World
1. Create a Budget
Like I mentioned, we have a whole savings account devoted to travel. I think it's important to know how much you want to spend. Otherwise, it's no fun to still be paying for a vacation you went to months ago after your tan has faded. Also, when you create a budget, you don't have to worry about accumulating unplanned debt. I think once we had realized how much travel meant to us, we knew there was a need to always build it into our lifestyle and essentially budget for it. We were able to prioritize also the things that we really wanted to do once we got to our destination, instead of doing it all and not having the funds to cover it. Or worst, over-spending on something that didn't really make sense and breaking that beautiful budget we created.
2. Know what you want to do before you get there
I'm sure it's adventurous to get there and try new things but like I've always said if you don't plan to succeed, that means you plan to fail. We've definitely rolled up at resorts, not factoring in excursion money or buying souvenirs and had to make the decision to charge it on a travel card or keep the vacation more simple. I think it comes down to the planning process. At the very least, if you factor in your excursion activities into your budget, as mentioned before, you may not use that extra money. The worst that can happen is you come back with more money than anticipated. At this point in our travel life, my husband and I can skip an excursion or two because we already been there and done that for some places. However, I know for people who still want to try new things, just do some research on it beforehand if you can.
3. Get points through a Travel or Hotel Card
I can't tell you how many places we've gone, by accumulating points from a Travel Credit card. I remember in 2016, before we had our son, I was traveling a lot for work and every vacation we took that year, was paid for by my points. I was traveling 80% of the time that year, so not only was I getting points on my travel card, but also on my hotel points. I think if I was going to use a credit card, it would be a card that I at least get some incentive from. Also, with a travel Card, some of them have joint reward programs where you can earn points for two different companies. I'm a big American Express Card advocate with their Delta and Marriott Card. I use it especially a lot to pay every day bills, of course using the actual cash pay it off right away. However, I accumulate both points through my Marriott account and Delta account by using my Delta card. Whereas, my husband has a SPG card so we sometime combine our points and earn double, since SPG and Marriott merged. There is no shame in the game when it comes to getting this perk, just don't let this be the sole reason to charge up some debt.
4. Use a Home Stay instead of Hotel
Unless you have a points travel card like I mentioned previously, it may be more beneficial to use a Airbnb or Vrbo to book a place to stay while on vacation. With the emergence of homestay's across the globe, people can go virtually anywhere for a relatively low cost. I remember a few years ago, my husband and I went to the Essence Jazz Festival in New Orleans, Fourth of July weekend. Of course every hotel was not only booked, but the rates were insane. Luckily for us, we booked an Airbnb and were good. Obviously, there are exceptions to this right? If you have a travel package that includes, accommodations, flights, or food. Well then, it's a no-brainer you should consider going with that option to save money on lodging. However, the point is to make sure to do due diligence and shop around. You never know where you will get the best deal!
5. Travel During off Peak Season