Travel! Who doesn’t perk up at the idea of jetting to a far away place filled with sunshine, margaritas and relaxation? Unless you want to hike the Appalachian Trail or the Great Western Greenway or maybe sail around…I’m getting carried away now. We all have our own fantasy of the perfect holiday, but we get stuck on the possible cost.
I’m often asked for my best “travel hacks” and how one can travel on a budget. Frankly, it’s not easy but there are a number of small things that really make up the difference so you can splurge on other things. First, decide what is most important to you when you travel. Do you love luxury hotels? Do you love fancy meals? Set aside a weekend for a hotel splurge or one or two nights at an expensive restaurant. When you budget the other components of your trip, they won’t seem so bad!
1 – Reach out on social media. Hotels, B&Bs, Inns etc. are looking for people just like you. They may have special offers and discounts specifically for those who search in this manner. You also may interface with other travelers who have recommendations. I reached out on Twitter about areas in Bordeaux, France and was connected with a fabulous woman who set up an amazing wine tasting for us. Free of charge!
Message boards are another great way to search for deals. Check out some the travel boards like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Reddit, Fodors, and Frommers. I searched for information about Positano, Italy and found a wonderful blogger who explained that there was no need to rent a car and how to use the public transportation system for a fraction of the cost. Plus, we hung with locals!
2 – Book your stay for a week or longer. Many places will give you a discounted rate when you stay for more than five days. That discount can be deeper for more than a week. Reserving well in advance may also garner a lower rate. Ask when booking!
3 – B&Bs and Inns offer complimentary breakfast. Another budget-friendly perk to staying at B&Bs and certain inns and hotels is that (a big!) breakfast is included in the rate. It also helps you get up and on the road each day instead of figuring out where to eat. Then you only have to budget for dinner and a snack during the day.
4 – Travel midweek and shoulder season. Airlines are notorious for offering better rates when you book midweek. Traveling Tuesday-Tuesday is easier on the wallet and there are less crowds! If you are able to travel in September or October, do it. You deal with less people, cooler temperatures and the locals are able to stop and chat with you along the way! Depending where you are going, the seasons could be opposite. A trip to New Zealand in July means a break from the heat! Win-win!
5 – Travel by train, if possible. For shorter domestic trips and traveling through smaller countries, traveling by train is a smarter, more efficient way to get around. Traveling between NYC and Washington DC is a short flight. However, think about all the time allotted to security, getting there early and then getting into the city from the airport. You just might enjoy getting to the station, getting on the train with no hassle and arriving in midtown, ready to go! Most trains have adequate amenities for working along with more space. Being able to walk around, get coffee and see the countryside can be a pretty great way to see the sites.
1 – Pack wisely. Use the “don’t carry everything you own rule.” Traveling with only carry-on luggage saves you a fee but it also ensures you won’t be “lugging” a giant bag through the streets of Paris or on and off a train heading to Barcelona. Not fun! Read here how to pack wisely.
2 – Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Don’t drink alcohol. Bring a refillable water bottle (empty when you go through security) for the flight and the rest of your trip. You will arrive fresher and alert.
3 – Bring healthy snacks. Airport food can be overpriced and nondescript. Bring power bars, nuts and fruit to keep you going. For longer flights, bring a well-packed (and odorless, please!) sandwich.
4 – Wear comfortable clothing. Wear yoga or nicer sweat pants and shoes that slip on and off easily. Bring socks or foldable slippers and a nice big scarf to wrap yourself in when it gets chilly. An eye pillow can shield you from lights on overnight flights and a neck pillow and noise-canceling headphones can be miraculous. Lip balm and hand cream quell that drying airplane air. Bring a toothbrush and facial wipes to cleanse/hydrate before landing. You will be so thankful you did this! Bring clothes to change into at the airport if you need to head off to a meeting right away.
5 – Stretch and walk often. This is common sense. It keeps your blood flowing and you will arrive feeling better!
6 – Wash your hands often/bring antibacterial gel/wipes. This is imperative. The airplane is one of the germiest places we frequent. Wipe down your area well when you are first seated so you can rest assured. Carry wipes for emergencies.
1 – Get out into nature. So many cities and towns offer great, free hikes and walks to experience the scenery. A drive to the top can offer amazing views that don’t cost a thing (Our innkeeper suggested driving to top -see above- in County Wexford, Ireland for sweeping views of the country and sea!). Alternately, get out on the streets and WALK. Walking a city or town is one of the best ways to experience how the locals live and spend their days. Spending an afternoon at a cafe, reading and people watching might be one of your favorite souvenirs! Most places have a tourist office with a free map and someone to tell you what you can’t miss! Did you know the Little Museum in Dublin has a program where a local will meet you for tea or coffee and tell you about their city? How about that?!
2 – Use public transportation. Traveling with the locals is one of the best ways to incorporate yourself into a place. A little research beforehand will tell you how to get around for a fraction of the cost of a taxi or rental car. The Paris Metro is a fine example of getting around a large city for only a few euros and avoiding major traffic!
3 – Bring snacks. Stopping to eat is both expensive and a time waster. Planning ahead and purchasing snacks will not only save you money but allow you to see more of the sights! When visiting Sonoma, California, I noticed a Trader Joe’s on the other side of the highway from our hotel. We popped in our first night and got breakfast items, drinks and snacks. Each day before we headed out wine tasting, we stopped in and purchased fresh fruit and packaged salads and wraps for our lunch. We were able to picnic cheaply and had more time to relax and enjoy the scenery.
4 – Use social media. Again, this is an amazing way to learn about places that aren’t in the guidebooks. There are so many travel bloggers out there (ahem!) that offer personally-tested guides and tips for touring. Doing a simple search online can afford you more time to enjoy the places and not worry about the legwork.
Most locals enjoy telling you about their town or city. Bring a phrasebook and say hello! But most importantly, be kind. Be a wonderful representative of your native land. Enjoy!
I can be found @fiery_jennyrose Stop by and say hello!