Money Hacks for your next travel trip
S and I have been traveling for awhile, and we always try to travel on a budget (we can't afford to spend thousands on first class tickets...). When we went to Rio for the Summer Olympics, we definitely planned meticulously and carefully to stay within our budget since any type of special event gets a %200 markup! Here are some tips we used to minimize our travel spending, but also still manage to have a good time.
Use AirBnb and budget hotels.
Having stayed in a host of different types of shelters ranging from luxury hotels to hostels, S and I have spent as much or as little money as possible when traveling. We’ve found the best ‘bang for your buck’ lays in AirBnB’s. Yes, hostels are as cheap as they come (or really, the street is!) but they’re also not the safest - and it was before the days of AirBnB! When we went to Rio for the Summer Olympics (backlink to Rio post), we stayed at both a hotel and an AirBnB. Both turned out fine! The benefit of AirBnB is that you can talk to your host prior and also get good tips and tricks from a local rather than from the concierge of a hotel that may or may not have affiliations with that super expensive Michelin star restaurant they recommend you to eat for lunch!
Maximize travel points from credit cards.
I don’t promote myself to be a travel hacker that cycles travel credit cards to take advantage of sign-up bonuses, but there are certain cards that we found helpful for traveling. The best rewards card I found helpful was Chase Sapphire Reserve. We used to have the Preferred card; however with the Reserve, you get 100,000 points if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months (which was what we could easily spend in three months!) and you get a $350 annual travel reimbursement to be used for taxis, Ubers, hotels, Lyfts, airfare - really anything pertaining to travel. Although the annual fee is hefty ($450 a year), it’s totally worth it especially if you’re planning your first big international trip. You can easily spend the money to earn the extra points, and then use those extra points towards airfare, hotel, or another trip. The 100,000 points amounts to about a $600-700 value.
Make a budget for traveling to include some flexibility.
Whether it’s a per diem food allowance or a budget for excursions and other exploring opportunities on your trip, definitely have a budget. This will give you a general idea of where your money is going and how much to save for it. You don’t have to be completely strict about your budget; you can have some flexibility in your budget - but do try and stick to it! You don’t want your cruise bill at the end of the week to be $3000 over budget! Also, make note of the ‘incidentals’ that may occur - such as transportation fees, hotel pick up, Uber prices, gratuities, etc. that you may not necessarily think about when planning the “big” stuff (like hotel and airfare).
Plan ahead any potential excursions.
What can really eat up the cost is the cost of travel excursions, which often can include gratuities as well. Plan for these excursions ahead of time to minimize unexpected costs. You can always look it up online ahead of time, or go on Tripavisor to help with your planning and what deals are available for companies. When I went on a cruise trip to Central America with my medical school girls (as our last hurrah before joining the real world of physician work!), we looked up reputable companies off-shore and near the port for cave tubing in Belize and other excursions. They are SO much cheaper than booking directly with a cruise line (because cruise lines tend to up-market the price of an excursion so they can take some of the profits). Planning excursions ahead of time will save you headache, time, and a lot of money in the long run!
Creating a budget and trying your best to stick with it (and at least giving you an idea of much you should save for your trip) and planning ahead of time before your trip can help you travel hack your expenses so you can actually enjoy your trip - and NOT be broke and poor afterwards.
Traveling isn’t as expensive as you think (and this is coming from someone with loads of debt from medical school.
I’d love to hear any travel hacks and tips for traveling while on a budget in your comments below, or shoot me a message to connect!