The Only Ten Travel Tips You’ll Ever Need

We’re big on adventure, but we’re also trying to save for financial independence at the same time. These ten travel tips that we have learned over time will not only insure that you are getting the most for your money, but that you are also saving money and having a great stress-free time. There are tips for flying, staying, traveling, adventuring, and even cruising. Let’s Begin. 


10. When You Vacation

There are many ways to save money when traveling. Probably the most basic and most heard of is traveling at the right time. You should try to travel on off seasons, when plane tickets are cheapest, when gas is low, and never on weekends.

Plane Tickets

Portland Trip May 2017 - Mountain
View in a plane heading to Portland

The cheapest days to fly if you are in the U.S traveling to the U.S are Tuesdays, Wednesday, Saturdays. Try to avoid the most expensive days of the week for U.S to U.S travel: Fridays and Sundays. If you are not traveling exclusively in the U.S midweek flights are usually cheaper than flying on weekends so it’s still a good rule of thumb to keep.

The best times of the year to travel greatly depend on where you are going. As a basic rule, you are going to want to avoid big days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, and Fourth of July (for the U.S). Each country has holidays, so try to avoid going when they will be having a big one (if you are traveling to see that holiday, be prepared for a more expensive flight.) If you are visiting a city, visit during it’s off peak season for the cheapest flights. For example, go to Disney World in the Winter and a cruise in the late summer and fall because of hurricane season.

Lastly, always look for sales. Last minute flights can be really cheep if you know where to look. We always fly Southwest in the U.S because they are almost always the cheapest and we get free carry-ons, check-ins, and snacks on flight.  That doesn’t mean we won’t take a deal if it’s way less than the cheapest Southwest flight (however, it has only happened once).

* If you are flying with a group of 10 or more, call for a group discount!!!

A note on car travel:

If you are traveling by car (advised for large groups for more savings) than you should go when gas is low. This means following some of the same rules as flying. Namely, don’t travel around big holidays. Gas goes up during times of lots of travel. Also, you’ll want to use the most gas efficient car you can. This will cut down on the gas you need in the long run saving you money. Before your travel get oil and tires checked so that you don’t have any big surprised in the middle of nowhere.

9. Never Stay in a Hotel

With modern technology, there are more ways than every to vacation. If you are trying to travel on a budget, you should never stay at a hotel. There are things like CouchSurfing and Airbnb or even camping or hostels. You can get any kind of accommodation if you know where to look and you are willing to compromise.

AirBnb

This is our personal favorite. We use this as a go to when we travel. When we went to Portland in 2017 we stayed in a basement a 5 min MAX ride to Downtown for $245 for 7 days. If we were to stay in any of the hotels for that long, it would have been at least $100 a night minimum. We’ve also camped on an organic event farm for $10 and slept on a couch on Hilton Head for $15. You can find anything on that website in almost any country.

Do you want to save money on your first Airbnb trip? Sure you do! Click here to make an account and get $40 towards your first stay. You can also use this link to make money of your own! Just make an account the same and set up a spare room or a couch for people to sleep on. Bingo! Free* money!

Make sure when you set a price for someone to stay at your place you are covering any electricity (or other) bills that come about because of their stay. 

CouchSurfing

Scenic Overlook
$5 a night in the Little Grand Canyon in Georgia

This is a service we have never used but plan to on our next trip.  I will say, this site is completely free to use. You can stay on someone couch for free, a vary nice way to vacation. Most hosts would like you to spend time with them (it’s a website about connecting people, not just offering a cheep way to stay) so be prepared for human interaction.

Camping:

You can find camp sites for really cheap all around the U.S. If you are looking for a way to stay in a city and you don’t have the one for a hotel, car camping might be the way to go. Find a camp site that has showers and a kitchen area and you’re good. You’ll even get to experience the outdoors while you vacation. Most places we have stayed charge as little as $5 a night.

Hostels:

Great for the traveler abroad, although they are not common here. You can get a bed for as little as $5 a night in some European cities and $20 in larger cities like Paris. These places are not for the person who requires privacy, but they can be a great way to see all a country has to offer for hundreds of dollars less than anyone else would spend.

8. Don’t Follow the Crowd

The simplest of tips. Why is everyone going to Orlando? Disney World, Universal, and about 5 other theme parks. This skyrockets the price of visiting that city to astronomical numbers. Why don’t you go to Marathon, Fl or Clearwater, Fl? There are ways to visit the big tourist cities (going off season, stay away from hotels) but the best way to save money is to travel to lesser known gems. These places will have just as much to do, although you usually have to like the outdoors a little bit more.

7. Check out Packages!

dollyywood
When we got engaged, we saved $50 on a trip to Dollywood by booking the hotel and the park ticket together!

Getting everything at once is sure to be cheaper than getting it all separate. You have many website options as well as places where you are a member (Costco). Cruses are the most efficient at this often offering all you can eat along site room and activities for one price.

Websites:

Kyack.com is my preferred site when it comes to traveling and booking online. I have used the others, but this one is my favorite. When you search for places to go, try searching for all inclusive vacations or package deals. While you need to read the fine print, these can often be cheaper than booking each thing separate, and some even come with excursions included. This does not exclude reading rates from the sites themselves. You’d be surprised how many places offer cheaper pricing on their own website than they do on Kyack or Travelocity.

Memberships:

MadCat
MadCat enjoys attacking a box that we used to haul Costco food in.

If you are a member at Costco, they offer trips for a discount. Not all trips are cheaper through Costco, but I have found that they lead close to 50% of the time for the places I am interested.I do not have a Sams membership, although I am sure that they offer some as well. The plus to having a membership like this is bulk food for cheap.

Cruses:

These are the best way to travel for cheap. Some lines are better than others, and some are more expensive. Even during peak season, I have found that traveling on a cruise is cheaper than traveling to a city. Food is almost always all you can eat. There are activities you can do on board, and your room is included in the price. My best tips to save money are to limit your excursions to the land. These can stack up quickly and usually cost a good bit. Don’t gamble in the casino, it’s just not worth it if you are trying to save money. Lastly, go to all the free shows. This entertainment is already paid for. If you want to get your money’s worth, then go to them all. Plus, it will give you something to do and remember.

6. Show Your Privilege!

This one is for the people who don’t like taking the senior citizens discount or the military discount. If they offer it, take it. If they don’t ask! You never know what you’ll get by asking. To add to that, what hurts more, being called old or not saving money just because you didn’t want to talk about your age? (any good company will refrain from calling you old)

5. Have Pets? No Problem.

hilton head 2016
MadDogge MadPuppers takes a stroll at the beach.

The best way to deal with pets is to have someone watch them. A family member or a friend. If you have a dog, it would be best if they could go over to the persons house to doggy-vacay of their own. If you have cats, birds, or other, you just need someone to come over once or twice a day and spend a little time with them, feed then, and clean up their areas.

If a friends kindness is not available there are apps like Rover that can be of help. There is absolutely no reason to pay outrageous prices for “real” kennels and care places. Rover has real people who will spend time with your animal ensuring that they are happy. At a kennel you can pay anywhere from $20 to $100 a night just to have your dog in a cage with 1 hours of free time a day. With websites like Rover, someone will let their dog stay with them for as low as $10 a night, saving over 50% of what you would have spent boarding.

The last option here is to bring your pet. This can be a bit more complicated as you have to find flights that allow pets (pricey), drive (pricey depending on how far), find pet friendly AirBnb or CouchSurfers (not hard), and even find vacation spots with pet friendly activities (there are plenty). It is more work, but the money you save from boarding can sometimes makeup for the little extra you will pay for a pet friendly AirBnB.

4. Getting Around Town

Lift and Uber are nice, but they are very expensive if you plan on using them more than once a day while you are on your trip. Worse than that, renting a car. Forget renting a car if your under 25 (dang US laws). What are you left with for cheap transportation? Feet, Trains, Rails/Tubes/Subways, busses, bikes!

By Foot & By Bike:

This way is obviously the cheapest (assuming you brought your own bike). You already have your equipment, what are you waiting for. Go! If you are traveling abroad, check into buying a cheap bike from a local then selling it when you leave. You get at least some of you money back and you don’t have to wait for the car to get there. Did you know some cities will bike you around in a taxi bike? (A sure must try)

Tube/Rail/Subway:

Depending on where you are depends on what they are called. No matter what they are called they are much cheaper than getting a taxi or renting a car. When we were in Portland we paid $50 for the two of us to have 7 day passes on the MAX Lines. We used the lines at least 4 times a day, which saved us hundreds in fees from parking and taxi rides.

Trains & Busses:

These are great ways to get to a close by city (or even a far one) if you don’t want to drive of fly. Trains can be fun (provided you are traveling through an interesting area.) More popular in other countries, you should at least try this once. Busses can be cramped and hot, but if you don’t have a cat and want to get away, this is a sure cheap way to do it. (of if you just want to live most 80s movies)

A Note on Lift & Uber:

If you need to take a taxi, take these. However, they can get pricey during high traffic times or in certain cities. Also, note that they don’t have emissions control like taxis do so they are worse for the environment of the city. We consider these our last resort in a city. We try public transportation first, then use these.

Do you want free rides on Lyft? Click Here for a varying discount (depends on your city) for a new account!

3. Group it:

If you want to get lower prices, travel in a group. Many places offer group discounts from hotels and rentals to cruises. If you don’t know, call and ask. Sometimes all you need is five people, while others don’t offer groups discounts until ten or more. If you don’t have anyone to travel with invite family or acquaintances. What better way to get to know someone than to travel with them. (Who would say no to a cheap vacation?)

2. The Tour Bandwagon:

Many places are offering tours now. There are all inclusive tours for groups of people in college, groups of people over 55, groups of couples, and single groups. You can travel to all parts of the world, go on a tour hike, or even go to places you might not otherwise be able to visit. Be sure to ensure that it is a safe company with good reviews and a trusted history. My tops picks are: WOOOF for cheap tracks & Contiki for trips with people my age (18-35). Most of these trips do not include flights, so you might have to use your saving skills for those.

1. You Don’t Have to go Far for a Vacation:

MadDogge fetches
MadDogge fetches a tree on our stay-cation in Acworth, GA.

The best tip to save money is to stay close. The further you travel the higher the expense. As an Atlanta dweller, my cheap destinations are Savannah, Chattanooga, and even Atlanta. Yes, a stay-cation is the cheapest way to vacation. I bet there are many things you haven’t done in your own town. Take a few days off of work and explore your own city. There is no extensive driving or flying, you don’t need room and board, and you don’t need to hire a sitter.

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