Monthly Archives: April 2016
There are a few approaches to spare cash when booking flights – most oblige you to be to some degree adaptable, in any case. Typically I arrange a major trek to some degree far ahead of time – even a year out some of the time. (Different times, I’ll arrangement inside a week, which can likewise work out to support me). Try not to be rushed when booking your flight (unless it’s a take, obviously!) Check flight costs every now and again and on a few unique locales. This is the manner by which I for the most part approach booking a flight:
1. Check Kayak.com (my go-to) for flights on the dates you want to go (and always mark the “flexible+3 day” option. Tuesday – Thursday tend to be the cheapest flying days).
2. Check Kayak for the same flight but in a few days to a week from now. This will show you if there are often last minute/discount tickets available.
3. Check Kayak for tickets in a year/very far in advance to see if buying ahead of time will benefit you. Overall, #1-3 is so you can get a general sense of how much tickets should be/what the average price is.
5. Do #1-4 again on Skyscanner.com (yes, prices will sometimes vary and they will sometimes show different airlines).
6. Try the “flexible/everywhere” option on Skyscanner. If you’re pretty flexible and can do a layover, sometimes it’ll be cheaper to fly to a nearby country, explore a couple days there maybe, and then catch a budget airline or train to your destination. This option will let you enter where you want to fly out from and will show you the cheapest flights people have purchased to basically anywhere in the world.
What I don’t like about it, is that these are just flights people have found, but when you click on them, they’re often higher than the price they show on the original search results page. However, it’s a good way to find airlines that have cheaper flights. Sites like Expedia and Kayak won’t show every single airline so it’s always good to explore other options. This option is also good for when you’re planning a trip and trying to decide where to go!
7. After doing #1-6, you should be able to get an idea of what airlines have the cheapest deals. This is when I go to individual airline’s websites to check prices (usually the cheapest 2-3). They’re sometimes cheaper than the prices on Kayak or Skyscanner.
8. Repeat #1-7 for as long as you’re willing to wait. If you see prices start to go up, then maybe go for it. If it’s still more than you’re willing to pay, take your chances and wait it out. I’ve been doing this method for years now and will usually end up buying within 2 months of my departure date (and most were bought within 3 weeks!) It’s not always true that buying it as far in advance as possible will get you the cheaper rates. Last minute tickets are often the least expensive.
How to Book FREE Flights:
• Use a credit card that will give you miles. Tons of sites will tell you how to do this in more detail (head over to the Frugal Travel Guy, which is where I began). I use the Capital One Venture card – if you spend $3000 in the first 3 months, you get bonus miles that essentially earn you a $400 flight (onany airline, or $400 worth of any type of travel expense). Use this card for your bills, rent if you can, and everything else and $3000 should be no problem. These types of cards tend to have a high APR so either do a balance transfer or pay it off in full each month.
Other Tips to Save Money When Booking Flights :
• Round trip flights are usually a better deal than one-way tickets.
• Peak season (summer, holidays) will be the most expensive time to travel (including flights, hotels and activities). Obviously you can’t change the date of your best friend’s wedding in Hawaii, but when booking your vacations, remember to research when the low season is!
• For budget airlines, they often have promotions – check these frequently if you’re super flexible and enjoy booking spontaneous trips
• Always check how much it will cost to check luggage (or don’t check luggage at all!). Airlines like Norweigan Air will have insanely cheap flights but will then charge an extra $50-$100 per suitcase. Obviously if you’re moving to a new country, you’ll need to check luggage, but if you’re only traveling for a week or two, try to keep it to a minimum! Also, make sure you’re considering luggage fees if you’re breaking up your trip with a layover or switching airlines.
• Check luggage weight allowances as well. Some airlines are brutal and overweight luggage fees can be extreme. Many will also weigh your carry on and force you to check it if it’s over the maximum weight (usually it’s 7, 10 or 15 kilos – so make sure you check on their website) – budget airlines like Air Asia and Tiger are notorious for this!
• You get what you pay for!! Budget airlines can be sketchy and flakey. Air Asia has cancelled my flight a week before and did absolutely nothing to try and help me get a new flight (they cancelled the entire route altogether). Just be wary! And if you’re booking connecting flights separately, make sure you have a good cushion of time in between, in case of delays.
• Check other modes of transportation. For instance, flying around Southeast Asia can be pretty cheap but buses and trains are often much cheaper. Traveling overland also has the benefit of not having to worry about luggage weight/baggage fees.
People dependably ask how I have the cash to go as much as I do. Well here are a couple of privileged insights, my companions! Ideally you can gain from a couple of my mix-ups and advantage from some of my tips!
1. The conspicuous route : go on spending aircrafts. When I went around Southeast Asia, Air Asia, Jetstar and Tiger were madly shabby – and I’m talking $65 flights from Bali to Phuket. I couldn’t express how much the expression “you get what you pay for” applies to these, be that as it may, yet they [usually] got us where we expected to go.
2. We booked every single hotel after first reviewing them on tripadvisor.com. This website is absolutely essential to get the best value.
3. HAGGLE. This obviously can only be done in some countries but it’s possible to pay $25 instead of the advertised $75 to spend the day white water rafting in Bali with transportation, all equipment and lunch included. Just see the advertised price as a suggestion and you’ll probably end up paying half that amount, at most. Don’t be afraid to be ballsy, they love taking advantage of foreigners.
4. Get a little bit of exercise – since it’s usually free and it’s good for you, duh. Go on hikes and check out the natural beauty in every country. Walk places instead of taking cabs/buses and absorb your surroundings. Go jogging on the beach. Swim in the ocean.
5. Do a little bit of research. A lot of cities will have free festivals (Melbourne had at least one a month) or free museums (the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand is AMAZING. The colossal squid is out of control.) Research how far your hotel is from the airport & the best way to get there – a quick Google search can turn your $80 cab ride into a [slightly-longer] $4 bus ride. Research if tipping is the custom so you don’t unnecessarily tip your servers in Australia who are already making $25/$30 an hour.
6. Use public transportation. I come from California where the public transport system is essentially non-existent in most cities so everyone has a car. AKA walking down dark, shady subways to catch a train with creepy crackheads shouting obscenities at innocent passer byers did NOT seem appealing. However, how can you argue with $56 a MONTH for unlimited use of the bus, tram & train in Australia (MyKi is essential)– as opposed to $60 a week spent on gas. Public transport may not be the most convenient or the easiest alternative, but it definitely will save you ridiculous amounts of money. Or just get a bicycle and you’re being even more eco-friendly.
7. Don’t check luggage!! This is important for several reasons: First of all, you will save HUNDREDS of dollars. It’s anywhere from $25-$50 to check luggage so you can do the math if you’re catching a lot of flights. Learn what the essentials are so you also don’t need to drag around a ton of luggage when travelling.
8. Pay attention to exchange rates. Try to get good rates on different currencies and get it before you go to that country. Call banks and see if they have the currency you need. If the rate is good, get enough for the entire time you’ll be there. This will also help you budget your money because you’ll only have an allocated amount you’re supposed to spend in each country. (Don’t exchange money at airports, the rates are usually terrible.)
9. Get a Charles Schwab bank account or one that will also let you withdraw money on any ATM with no fees. Charles Schwab is an example and you can use any ATM in the world. That means no $5 fees every time you run out of money at a bar and need to withdraw a little bit of cash.
10. Groupons/Scoopons, Living Socials, etc. Superb way to find hidden gems while getting awesome deals. These were especially helpful in Australia where there are hundreds upon hundreds of dining/drinking options that are also twice as expensive as in America. Sign up and get a couple emails a day to get a 3 course meal for $15, a scuba certification class for $150 or a 5 night stay in Fiji for $200. Need I say more?
11. Pregame. I know what you’re thinking and NO – you are not too old to pregame. As much fun as it is to spend $18 on every single cocktail while out each night, try drinking a bit before so you only need to buy a few social drinks at the bar (I’ve perfected this strategy during my college days). Unless, of course, you’re in the Philippines where beer is sometimes 80 cents.
13. Use Craigslist or Gumtree or whatever site where people can buy & sell essentially anything. I used it to buy a used bicycle and enjoyed dozens of amazing bike rides around Melbourne. Before moving away, I posted it back on Gumtree and sold it for the same amount I bought it for. BOOM.
14. Eat the local food. More often than not, those slightly dodgy-looking hole-in-the-wall places will be the most delicious, authentic food you can get. And also the cheapest. We did make the mistake of eating dog in Thailand (which I would never ever EVER recommend) but it’s all part of the experience, right?
15. Negotiate with cab drivers BEFORE getting in the car (if they refuse to use a meter, which is almostalways around Southeast Asia). They can spot tourists a mile away and would LOVE to up their normal fee by 300%. See Tip #3.
16. Blog-stalk. I love reading people’s blogs but one of the more practical benefits is that you can get a first hand take on other people’s experiences traveling where you’re about to go. I blog-stalked like crazy before leaving for Korea and thankfully brought a sufficient amount of deodorant as I was advised since it’s a rare find in this country.
17. If you’re like me and over pack and then also buy way too many clothes abroad, you’ll have to figure out how to get all of your stuff back home. We debated sending a package back but this can be pricey (we’re talking $200 for a 30 pound package from Australia – US). Instead, we packed everything in a giant box and checked an additional bag at the airport. It was still $100 but at least we wouldn’t have to wait weeks for it to arrive. The fun part is lugging around 4 carry-ons and 5 checked items between the two of us.
Because you’re squeezing pennies doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of fun hiking trip. It means being savvy, discovering approaches to compromise and watching your spending all through your adventure. Make sense of which nation you need to visit and how you’re arriving, and after that make it your objective to have a minimal expenditure left over for your next outing. Utilize these 10 tips to keep your exploring stumble on spending plan.
Be careful of pickpockets and scam artists
Whether you’re backpacking through Europe or Southeast Asia, every city has some form of pickpockets or scam artists. They can spot a tourist from down the street and they will take advantage of you. The fastest way to lose money when traveling is having it stolen, so keep that cash close to your body, in hidden pockets and money belts.
Visit the liquor store
As you’ve probably realized, local businesses are eager to squeeze every penny possible from foreigners—and can you really blame them? Bars and clubs located near major tourist sites will charge more for drinks, because travellers won’t know the difference. Pregame at your hostel and spend less when you go out. Many cities also allow public drinking, but check the local laws in your travel guide before you leave. Also be aware that a lot of European clubs use drink cards. The club gives you a card when you enter, it gets punched each time you order a drink and then you cash out your card at the end of the night. Pay attention to your bartender to prevent over-punching. And don’t lose your card! The fees for a lost card can be astronomical.
Avoid tourist traps
Follow the locals. Where do they go for lunch, how do they spend their Friday afternoons? Make a list of things that are free all week: parks, sculpture gardens, window-shopping, etc. Make sure you have enough free entertainment throughout your backpacking trip that you never feel forced into paying money (take advantage of free walking tours, but keep in mind you’re expected to tip your guide). Then figure out which tourist attractions offer stellar deals. Museums and playhouses sometimes offer student discounts, or free/reduced admission on certain days. Prioritize your activities to keep net costs low.
Travel with a group
Solo backpacking is a freeing experience, but if your friends are willing and able, bring them along! Travelling in a group can save you major money. For starters, you share necessities and downsize your luggage. One person carries toiletries, the other brings snacks. In a group, less food is wasted and you can take advantage of each other’s particular skills. You might not know how to cook, but your friend is actually Barefoot Contessa. Meanwhile, you might be the only one who knows how to pitch a tent. Of course, travelling with other people complicates the planning process, and you might not always agree on where to backpack, but don’t let that scare you. Even if you split up for part of the trip, you can reconvene in certain cities.
The key to backpacking is “less is more.” If you try to bring 4 pairs of jeans, there’s no way you’re hiking that mountain or catching that last minute train. Leave stuff behind and it will all be there when you come home. This includes objects with sentimental value! Whether it’s your favorite piece jewelry or that watch you got from your grandfather, bringing valuable items is asking for disaster. Only pack what you wouldn’t mind replacing. Dodge an emotional disaster and avoid paying airlines for overweight luggage or extra checked bags.
If possible, try camping out for at least part of your journey. In developed countries, there are plenty of comfortable campsites that won’t dent your budget. It’s a great option for a seasoned camper who doesn’t mind carrying their own tent. If you’re ready to embrace your inner Bear Grylls, you can camp just about anywhere. Just remember to stay safe, especially if you’re backpacking solo.
Get a hostel with a kitchen
If camping isn’t your thing, then try one of the hundreds of backpacker-friendly hostels across the world. Check to see if they have complimentary breakfast or, better yet, a communal kitchen stocked with basic utensils and cooking items. These are the best places to backpack. Making a couple meals at your hostel will save you a lot of money in the long run. A communal kitchen is also a great place to meet and bond with other travellers.
Bring your own snacks
Backpacking can be exhausting. Snacking between meals will help you stay engaged in all your adventures. Even in the cheapest countries to visit, local vendors know this, and will upcharge tourists who come to them for a quick bite. Bring your own protein bars and save that money.
Buy a train pass
In certain regions, like Western Europe or Asia, you can pre-purchase a train pass that allows you to travel relatively freely over a period of time. If you know you’ll be travelling a lot within that region, the pass could save you hella $$$ over the course of your trip.
Walk instead of taking a cab
It may seem convenient to take a cab to your destination, but don’t do it! Between the mileage cost, tipping, and the added secret tourist fee (many cab drivers can charge tourists more than locals because they don’t disclose rates) you could rack up a hefty bill. Walking a little extra is good for your body, the environment and your wallet. If something is too far to walk, then take a bus or metro. Public transit costs less than $2 in many cities.