Let’s be honest, vacations are expensive and require a great deal of planning and saving. Often times we completely write off the idea of an international vacation because of costs and fear of the unknown. What if I told you that you could travel to another country for the same cost as most people spend to have a vacation in the US?
Here are a few ways that I have been able to save on travel costs that have allowed my husband and I to expand our international travel portfolio:
1. Have flexible travel dates.
This is by far the most important in order to get the best deals on flights! For the most part, my husband and I can plan our vacations whenever we want throughout the year. We NEVER start planning a trip with any specific month or time of year in mind. There are times where we have obligations that make a certain week or month unavailable for us, but we never start our planning by saying “Let’s go somewhere in June!”
2. Never pick just one destination!
From my experience, this is equally as important as never picking a specific set of travel dates. We go where the flight deals take us! My husband and I would have never been able to go to Italy for our honeymoon if our original honeymoon spots were all that we were open to. We both have places that we would love to see, but we also know that the best vacations can come from trips that you never planned to go on! By being flexible with your travel dates and your destination you are opening so many possibilities that can fit your budget! (If you want to go to Europe, it is very easy and cheap to travel around once you are there! Often times you can take a train or find flights to another country for as low as $20 each way. We choose our European destinations based on flight prices and then use that city as a “home base” to travel to other countries in Europe. We have used this process twice already to see London, Paris, and Dublin and are using it again with flight deals we found on Black Friday!)
3. Know your potential destinations.
Traveling on a budget does not mean that you need to book the cheapest everything you see. It also doesn’t mean that you need to be stuck visiting Paris in the middle of winter (if that’s not your ideal time to visit). Once you find a few good flight deals make sure you check those destinations during that time to make sure you would enjoy the trip! It’s a little cheaper to travel during the off seasons when the crowds are smaller, but that can also mean traveling when the weather is not ideal. Do not force yourself to go on that trip if it isn’t what you would truly enjoy!
4. Do your research!
I often get asked how I find such great deals on our flights, hotels, etc. and my answer is always the same: I spend a lot of time researching. You know the hours you spend surfing Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram on your phone? I spend that time trying to find good deals for our next potential vacation. You don’t have to become a travel agent but know that good deals take a little time and effort to find. I check a few different sources and compare websites like Kayak, Expedia, and even Groupon. They don’t always show the same information! Websites like Slickdeals.com can show you current flight deals that different airlines are offering (where I found our flights to Hawaii for $300!) and Groupon can save you big on excursions and hotels!! I once booked a “luxury hotel” and a few days later saw the same hotel on Groupon. I saved over $500 by cancelling our original reservation and using the Groupon!
**I NEVER book anything from a “discount” website without doing my research. I have had great luck with using Groupon for hotels but I always check MULTIPLE other sources for reviews before I book.
5. Consider traveling in order to be able to travel.
When we lived in Ohio we were willing to drive a few hours in order to add a few more airports to our searches to cut down on costs. Akron was our “home” airport but by being willing to drive 2 hours we were also able to add Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Columbus as possible airports to use. Now that we live in Phoenix, we even consider flying out of California if it will save us hundreds of dollars and allow us to take a vacation that we could never afford to take if we were limited to only flying in and out of the nearest airport. Being open minded to other airports is another main reason why we are able to travel as often and to some of the places we have. It has saved us thousands of dollars over the course of our vacations!
6. Follow airports and airlines on social media.
Often airlines will open new routes and offer discount pricing to help advertise their new destinations. Following your airport and the airlines on social media outlets can keep you up to date with new promotions and keep you informed when they might be offering lower rates to keep up with the competition. Our first trip to Europe happened because an airline opened new routes to Dublin and London and were offering promotional pricing to help get business!
7. Use Pinterest to find great deals!
Most people use Pinterest for party planning, recipes or crafts. I use it to find awesome ideas on traveling! You can search a destination and pull up blogs, maps, top things to do, free things to do, and more! It’s a great way to plan the “must sees” and also find FREE things that your destination offers. (For example, one of the best things to find are days where popular museums and attractions offer free or discounted admission.)
I hope these little tricks will open your eyes to traveling abroad and help you realize that it might not be as out of reach as you thought! You can also use these suggestions to help save costs on vacations and destinations state side as well! Happy Traveling!
Where would you like to travel to this year?