Tips for Budget Travel


Budget Travel, Tips for Travel

Wanderlust has hit you again! You are tired of the same old routine and need to spread your wings out somewhere new in this world. You jump on the computer with great anticipation. Unfortunately, you can't seem to catch a break with flights. Hotel prices are heavy and there are no affordable reservations in sight. In frustration, you grudgingly settle for another weekend at home, as your dream vacation takes a back seat yet again. This scenario plays out quite often for many who dream of exploring the wonders of the world.
Quite often, I receive the same question from others, "How do you afford all these expensive trips?" With proper planning, key research, and timely focus you can travel anywhere your heart desires. More than ever, people have the misconception that international travel is pricey and they think retirement will be their only time to pursue their bucket list. However, I am here to inspire you to travel at any age, on any budget! With our travel hacks and tips, you can start planning your next dream vacation now.


Tips for budget travel

TIPS ON FINDING THE BEST FLIGHT DEALS

For most trips, airfare is the most expensive part of the trip. Airlines have thousands of amazing deals if you know where to look. Here's how to find the cheapest flights to anywhere in the world.

Be flexible with where and when to go. If you’ve picked out your destination, picked out your dates, and don’t have flexibility, 95% of what you can do to bring down the cost of airfare is already out the window. Flexibility is key.


Use Skyscanner and Momondo to look up the best flight deals on your desired destination. I use both of these sites interchangeably to explore the cheapest options as well as the least expensive days to depart and arrive. It’s important to sign up for their email notifications and you will always be notified when prices drop on your specific flights.


The Flight Deal website shows daily bargains on different flights around the world. With this concept, it helps you to plan your next vacation in line with the best bargain. Make a list of your bucket list destinations and sign up for their emails. Check these emails daily to see if your dream getaways are on the list.


Travel Pirates is an additional travel app that allows you to view daily deals. It displays the best travel bargains on vacation packages, flights, and hotels. With this app, you will begin the day with excitement, daydreaming about your next adventure!


Finally, The Points Guy website is your ultimate guide for navigating the ins and outs of points, miles, and aviation for traveling the world. This website and Facebook Page will help you clearly understand what credit cards are best to access free travel. The key to this concept is signing up for a card where you can meet the minimum amount to gain points. For example, you may need to spend $3000 within 3 months to earn 60,000 points. These points can be transferred to specific airline partners for free flights.


Make sure you only charge necessities on this credit card and pay off the full balance at the end of each month. Charge all monthly expenses-groceries, gas, bills, etc to reach the minimum requirement. You won't gain any benefits from having to pay interest on a card, so mark your calendar to pay the full balance monthly.


Research The Points Guy website to weigh the pros and cons of each card. Specific cards are better suited for flight points, hotel points, or vacation packages.


FREE PET SITTERS WHILE TRAVELING


There are a lot of things to consider when finding the right pet care. While your pet’s health and happiness are of course your primary concern, the cost is also a big consideration —, especially for long term trips. But did you know that there are free pet sitters?


Yes, free pet sitters do exist! It’s all part of a special exchange keeping pets happy at home and helping pet lovers travel…


In the caring community of TrustedHousesitters, pet sitters do not charge to care for your pets- dogs, cats, birds, livestock, etc. They are just genuine pet lovers that want to stay in new places with adorable animals. Not only do these kind and caring sitters help pets stay in their own homes, but they offer owners true travel freedom. Because for most owners, it’s not about finding cheap dog sitters or free pet care, but knowing their pet is loved and cared for.


How does pet sitting work?

Owners and pet sitters who buy an annual TrustedHousesitters membership can connect to exchange pet care for a place to stay, all year round.

It's a win-win situation for both parties! The pet sitters have a free “vacation home” to stay in, and in return, they take care of your pets and watch over your house for free.

TrustedHousesitters is so much more than a free pet sitting website. It’s a community of genuine pet lovers helping all animals stay in their own homes while their owners are away.


For your peace of mind, the pet sitters on TrustedHousesitters are registered with background screenings, with legal documents attached, helping you feel more safe and comfortable with having a newcomer stay in your home.


We have had exceptional experiences with our petsitters from this site and have asked multiple sitters to do repeat sits. We've gained lifelong friendships with our petsitters and they enjoyed our home.

I highly recommend signing up for this site, as this is the best option to save money while traveling. Boarding your pets not only can be quite expensive but leaves your pets feeling upset with not being in their normal environment. Your sweet animals will appreciate being in the comfort of their home, with the same routine.


How To Find The Right Sitter For Your Pets

To find top-rated pet sitters, sign up for an account online and create an ad for your travel dates. You should include info about your pet and the requirements needed for their stay. Many applicants will respond to your ad, applying for the sit. Carefully review each applicant's profile and their previous housesit reviews to ensure you find the best fit for your animal and their needs.


The annual fee for TrustedHousesitters is $119 (use my link HERE to receive 25% off your annual membership), which is less expensive than boarding your pets, especially if you plan to travel often. The membership pays for unlimited home and pet care for one year, verified sitters, tools for a successful sit, 24hr vet advice line, and 24hr membership support.



NO ATM FEES WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD

The Charles Schwab bank card is THE card to have in your wallet while traveling abroad. This card does not charge ATM fees in any country and does not have any foreign transaction fees.

It’s my go-to card for travel.

Charles Schwab Account, Tips for Budget Travel

Setting Up Your Account

You can set up an online checking account through the Charles Schwab website by clicking here. It's quick and easy! There are no minimum deposits required and no monthly service fees. You’ll never pay a fee with this bank. Their ATM card can be used in any bank machine around the world. If you lose the card overseas, they will second-day FedEx you a replacement card anywhere in the world for $15.

To deposit money into the account, set up a transfer online between your bank and your Charles Schwab checking account so you can transfer money through their mobile app anytime.


This is a lifesaver when you need cash for a restaurant or store and don't want those annoying ATM fees to add up!



BOOKING ACCOMMODATIONS 


AIRBNB


Airbnb has completely changed the game for travelers. No longer do we to have face the all too limited choice between a hotel or hostel for our accommodation. Now we have the potential to choose a cute little Parisian studio, a townhouse in New York's hipster district, a secluded Italian villa or a modern, centrally equipped apartment in Vienna - and everything else in between. And we get to have it all to ourselves.


We've used Airbnb countless times, from short weekend trips in the U.S. to week-long stays in Europe and two weeks in Japan. It's something we'll continue to use for our future travels.


With its dramatic global growth, it's now a more feasible alternative for budget accommodations with more space and amenities than hotels or resorts. Renting on Airbnb can often work out significantly cheaper than a hostel or hotel. It's also a great way to get out of the hotel district and into a real neighborhood, which allows you to experience the true culture of an area.


However, for first-timers used to the flexibility, convenience, and security of a hotel/hostel, we recognize that Airbnb can be a little daunting. That's why we've come up with this beginner's guide - so that you can understand how it works, find the perfect room or apartment, and hopefully save a bit of money on your next trip!


Set Up a Profile

As you can imagine when people are renting out their home, they want to be pretty certain that you are who you say you are. That means that once you create a profile with great photos, and verify with an uploaded valid ID, you can become accepted for future bookings. This is pretty simple to do but will involve linking a social media account, uploading a photo ID (driving license, passport) and confirming your email address and phone number.


Check Out Previous Reviews

If your Airbnb of choice has been around for a while, there should be countless comments from previous users. Read them. Of course, don't focus on the single bad review in a sea of gleaming references, but if multiple people mention that the area isn't great, that the flat was a mess or that the host was useless, it's probably worth moving on to the next rental. If you're truly an Airbnb virgin, we'd recommend that your first rental has many exceptional reviews.


Weekly/Monthly Discounts

A substantial proportion of Airbnb hosts knock off a significant amount for stays of a week or more- which is why it's so popular with long-term travelers.


Check Out Location

After a particularly 'interesting' stay in the outskirts of Venice, we've learned to check and double-check the location of our potential Airbnbs very carefully. One factor that affects the price of properties quite significantly is location, so if it seems too good to be true, make sure that you're not in the middle of nowhere or the sort of place you shouldn't go out in at night.


Another good way to assess this is in the comments. Remember, the host can say anything and, as a first-time visitor to the city, you might not be aware of the city’s no-go areas. Previous guests are usually pretty good at alerting future guests to this in the reviews. Similarly, simply looking at an apartment on a map can be misleading. Before booking, check out public transport options to/from the city center from the apartment to make sure that there is a convenient and cost-effective option and that you are not hours away from the sights you want to visit on your trip.


Check the Facilities Carefully

Whilst you can select certain facilities within the search function, you must check the facilities listed very carefully. A good example of this is whether or not there is a kitchen. We've found several apartments where it stated there was a kitchen (the host had selected it in the facilities check-list) but in the written description, it became clear that this was purely for making breakfast or using the microwave - not at all suitable for cooking a proper meal.


Be Flexible

If you've already booked your flights, then, of course, you're going to be limited. However, if you're dreaming of a long weekend in Rome, then it might pay to check out the accommodation options in tandem with potential flights. By looking at availability, you might find an absolute gem of an apartment available within your budget.


For Every Budget

When you're brought to your initial search results page, some of the nightly rates may be quite expensive. However, do not fear - Airbnb really does cover every budget. Use the search criteria and request that only rentals within your min/max budget appear. For those traveling independently and on a smaller budget, consider renting a private room as opposed to the entire place. It will be significantly cheaper and will allow you to make some local friends.


If Renting a Private Room, Check the Small Print

We usually choose to rent entire apartments rather than private rooms. However, on a recent last-minute trip in peak tourist season, when anything that was vaguely pleasant and affordable had been booked up for months, we had to look into renting a room instead. There are crucial things to consider when doing this...


Who will I be sharing the apartment with (some hosts run there apartments like hostels and rent out multiple bedrooms to different people), what is the bathroom situation, is security a concern (lock on bedroom door?), does the host have children (that's certainly an apartment we'd choose to pass-over) and will I have access to all the facilities (several places we've come across limit you to your room only). These all need to be considered. Ask questions in advance, understand that each private room may differ vastly in terms of what they're offering and, if you aren't comfortable with what's presented, do not book.


Don't Forget Extra Fees

When you're working on a particular budget, you need to consider the extra fees that will be applied. For starters, an Airbnb service charge applies to all bookings and is non-negotiable. Additionally, a significant number of hosts will apply a hefty cleaning fee to your rental cost. Often, an apartment that is perfect for your budget on the first look will reveal itself to be way more than you can afford when you factor in all these costs. Also bear in mind security deposits. We've only ever rented one place that required this and had no problem getting it returned, but always check the small print to establish whether this is applied to your booking. Unless you completely wreck the place, you're unlikely to lose it.


Host Reviews Your Stay

We told you earlier how important reviews are when choosing a place to rent, however, do remember that your hosts can leave a review about you, as well. Their purpose isn't to moan that you left a sock in the bed or a bit of sand in the shower, but if you leave the apartment in an absolute mess, with bags full of trash in the kitchen and a broken bathroom door, they may leave a negative review, impacting your ability to stay at future Airbnb. Despite paying a cleaning fee, the unwritten rule is that you leave the place reasonably tidy upon departure. Make sure to respect others' homes and leave in good condition.

Airbnb info provided by Along Dusty Roads


TIP: To choose top-rated Airbnbs, click on Filters and check the box for "Superhost." (Superhosts are experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests. Once a host reaches Superhost status, a badge will automatically appear on their listing and profile to help you identify them.) In addition, look for 5-star reviews from other guests.


CLICK HERE TO USE MY AIRBNB LINK TO RECEIVE $40 OFF YOUR FIRST TRIP! IF YOU ALREADY HAVE AN AIRBNB ACCOUNT, YOU CAN SIGN UP WITH A NEW EMAIL AND STILL RECEIVE THE DISCOUNT.



BOOKING.COM


Booking.com is an Online Travel Agency that offers booking multiple types of accommodations. In addition to traditional hotels, they offer access to book almost any type of accommodation you could ask for including apartments, hostels, homestays, bed and breakfasts, and villas! The map view is one of my favorite tools on Booking.com, since location is such an important factor when choosing a place to stay. The main search results list can be quite overwhelming if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Be sure to use as many filtering options as you can to narrow your results.


Booking.com does not have a blanket cancellation policy; each booking comes with its own rules and regulations. Be sure to check your booking before submitting payment so you are aware of the cancellation policy. Some special prices require upfront payment and do not offer free cancellation.



FREE ACCOMMODATIONS | COUCHSURFING

Couchsurfing is a website that connects travelers with locals and is a global travel community. Members can ‘surf’ as a guest in someone’s home, attend Couchsurfing events or simply catch up for a chat.


Our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. Couchsurfing is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in local culture. We have made wonderful friends and found hidden gems in cities that we otherwise would have missed thanks to the advice of our hosts. Below are some tips for having a memorable Couchsurfing experience on your next trip!


The first step is to sign up for Couchsurfing and complete your profile. You can provide information about your age, occupation, languages spoken, hobbies, countries visited, life philosophy – almost anything! We also suggest uploading a couple of photos.


You can provide as much or as little information as you want, but you will receive more offers from hosts if you have a complete profile with a picture. Your profile also allows hosts to get to know you before offering you a place to stay. This will hopefully increase the chances that you and your host will have similar interests.


Have References

Couchsurfing allows members to leave positive (or negative) references for other members. The reference system is not only important for safety but also helps hosts to decide whether you will be a good fit in their home. Hosts are taking a gamble when offering to host someone with no references. You will find it much easier to find a host if you have a couple of references. When you sign up to Couchsurfing via Facebook, you will be notified which of your Facebook friends are signed up with Couchsurfing. Reach out to them to ask for a nice personal reference about how awesome you are to help you get started.


Finding the Perfect Couchsurfing Host

Couchsurfing now has over 10 million members in more than 200,000 cities. With so many options, it is difficult to know where to begin looking for a host! Here are a few tips to get you started.


Creating a Public Trip

You can create a ‘public trip’ on Couchsurfing, which means hosts from that city can see your trip. They can then choose to send you offers to stay or catch up. When creating a public trip, include information about why you are visiting, who you are and the kind of hosts you would like to meet. We have had varying degrees of success with this approach. In some countries, you may receive a lot of spam from taxi drivers, guides and guesthouses. In other countries, you will have plenty of offers from genuine hosts. You can always remove your public trip if you’re not happy with the offers you’re receiving.


Sending Direct Requests

You can also search for hosts and send them direct requests. You should personalize your couch request. Use the host’s name, and explain why you want to stay with them. Include some information about yourself and why you make a great guest. Perhaps even mention a few things you might have in common. Do not copy and paste your requests. This is obvious to hosts. Some hosts even ask a question in their profile for you to answer in your application, so keep your eyes peeled. Your request doesn’t need to be lengthy – a couple of paragraphs is plenty.


Deciding Whether to Accept an Offer

When deciding whether to accept an offer from a host, read the host’s profile and reference in detail. Do you have things in common? Is smoking or drinking allowed? Are there pets or children? Are you expected to leave the house while the host is at work? Everyone is different, so think about whether you will be a good fit in the host’s home. You should also check what the sleeping arrangements are. We don’t carry sleeping gear with us, so we always check there is a mattress and linen before we arrive. Some hosts also offer ‘shared’ rooms – this can mean actually sharing a bed with your host so it pays to check! (You have the option to check PRIVATE ROOM on the filters section when searching for a host).


Organizing Your Arrival

Once you have accepted an offer from your host, it is a good idea to swap phone numbers or What’s App numbers. Contact your host around one week before you arrive to organize your arrival. Try to provide an approximate arrival time. Some hosts may be able to meet you at the airport or bus station, while others may expect you to make your own way to their house. Don’t forget to ask for directions and an address.


On the day of your arrival, keep your phone turned on! Let your host know if you’re running late or lost. If your host is not at the meeting point at the agreed time, it’s fine to send them a polite message or call to see where they are.


Couchsurfing Etiquette

There are a few golden rules of etiquette when Couchsurfing, which will not only keep your host happy but will hopefully make your stay more rewarding. Firstly, do not treat your host’s home as a free hotel. There is nothing worse than a Couchsurfer who simply drops their bags, grabs a map and heads out the door without even having a conversation with their host. Couchsurfing is all about forming friendships and learning about the places you are visiting. Spend some time getting to know your host.


You are a guest in someone’s home, and you should be respectful of that. This means not returning home drunk at 3am or bringing back additional ‘guests’. Try to work around your host’s schedule if possible.


You should also always ask before using ingredients or utensils in the kitchen. While most hosts have no problem with you doing so, it is still polite to ask. Keep your area of the house tidy and clean up after yourself.


Couchsurfers should also bring a small gift from home, or perhaps a bottle of wine, to thank the host for their hospitality. You shouldn’t offer to pay for your stay, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pitch in for shared expenses. For example, if your Couchsurfing host drives you around, you could share fuel costs. You can also try to cook a meal for your hosts.

Couhsurfing info provided by Nomadasaurus



TRAVEL INSURANCE


Travel insurance is essential for any international traveler, yet it’s often overlooked. We prioritize car and home insurance to protect our valuable assets. Don't risk traveling the world without insurance. While amateur travelers may feel it's an unnecessary expense, travel insurance provides a critical safety net when you’re abroad. Illness and injury, lost luggage, canceled flights, the death of a family member back home — these are all covered by insurance. This is a necessary component of traveling, otherwise, you may end up paying thousands of dollars without reimbursement.


Since your health insurance doesn't cover travel abroad, you could potentially end up with a medical bill of $200k+, lose a canceled trip, and have no protection to receive your hard-earned money back.

Since travel insurance is complex, we will cover the important aspects to help you choose the right coverage for your trip.


First, make sure you purchase a high coverage plan, securing $100k to 1,000,000 in medical expenses. High limits are crucial for a potentially life-threatening situation where you may break a leg or need an emergency airlift to a hospital. You may get stuck with a hefty bill if you opted for $20k insurance coverage. Don't be cheap with your health.


Additionally, evacuation protection to include transportation from the current hospital to your home country. Regular emergency evacuation coverage usually only transports you if the foreign medical facility is insufficient or if it's medically necessary to transfer back home.

You must check the coverage to make sure it includes a homebound flight if needed. If you would prefer to be transported to your home and not stay in a foreign hospital, you can look into Medjet for a medical transport membership program.


Finally, an excellent travel insurance plan will always include the following arrangement:

  • Coverage for your planned countries

  • Cover injury and sudden illnesses

  • Twenty-four-hour emergency services

  • Cover cancellations for flights, accommodations, and transportation if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or other emergencies.

  • Cover lost or stolen possessions


I recommend carrying a credit card that covers trip cancellation. Chase Sapphire, for example, reimburses up to $10,000 for trip cancellation, as long as the canceled the trip is one of their covered causes. Since trip cancellation is covered on my Chase card, I carry GeoBlue Travel Medical Insurance, which covers anywhere from $100,000 to $1,000,000 in medical expenses. For a two-week trip, I pay around $42 for the two people that insures up to $1,000,000 medical expenses. It's a small price to pay for an emergency or accident and can prevent you from getting into unnecessary debt. If you don't own a credit card that covers trip cancellation, World Nomads is an exceptional company that covers both trip cancellation and medical travel insurance.



SAVING DATA CHARGES WHILE TRAVELING


One costly expense that can rack up your travel bill is international data roaming charges. Service providers take full advantage of this and make international roaming plans pricey. By following a few simple steps, you can save money on your international roaming charges while traveling abroad.


Using Google Maps is essential when traveling around in a new country. We use Google Maps daily to find the best routes to hit the major attractions and hidden gems. If you do not have an international data plan, this feature can be pricey. We've discovered how to use Google Maps WITHOUT wifi or data, allowing you to save on your travels. Plan your route with Google Maps when you have access to wifi (at your Airbnb, hotel, or cafe) and then turn your phone on Airplane mode. Google Maps will continue to show your location with a blue dot, and as you walk or use transportation, you will continue to see the blue dot (your location) move along with you. Directions to your destination will continue to show until arrival. This feature is perfect to minimize data use and save money.


How to Download Google Maps for Offline Use Without Data or Wifi


Before we begin, please note that using Google Maps offline without data or wifi on your trip is meant to be a pre-travel preparation item. Thus, you must follow these instructions when you are at home, in your office, Airbnb, or wherever you have a good wifi connection. After you complete these instructions, Google Maps will work in airplane mode.


  1. When connected to wi-fi, open the Google Maps app on your phone.

  2. Search for the city you're going to.

  3. Once you see the city you’ll be visiting, click the Three Horizontal Lines in the top left of the app on the search bar.

  4. Click ‘Offline areas’. Click ‘Custom area’. Zoom in and out to adjust the map to the area you want.

  5. Click ‘Download.’ Your map will download in a few minutes as long as it remains connected to wi-fi.

  6. Once downloaded, you can rename your offline area with the city name, and click ‘Save’.


How to Prep Google Maps for Offline Use Without Data or Wifi


Now that you have downloaded the Google Map area you need for offline use, you’ll want to prep it even further by adding in locations you’ll be going to often just in case you don’t have wifi or data to give you specific instructions. These points will be saved on your downloaded map so you can figure out how to get there yourself.

-Google Maps info provided by Must Till Dawn.



LEARNING THE LOCAL LANGUAGE


In some countries, travelers can make their way around speaking only English, but more seasoned travelers are saying that learning the local language enhances your travel experience.


Knowing the local language will change how you see the country, their culture, and interactions with local people, as you form a bridge to narrow the language barrier. Here are some benefits to learning a local language:

  • Interaction with locals

  • Experience openness

  • You build trust

  • Understand local culture better

  • Read menus at local restaurants

  • Find your way around

  • You gain independence

  • Gain respect

Learning a new language is challenging, but if you are ready to explore new destinations, connect with locals and understand their culture on a deeper level, than invest your time in learning the local language of your chosen destination.


There are a few free apps to help you learn the local language before embarking on your travels. Try each app to see what works best for your learning style.


Duolingo provides a program for the following languages:


 

Being a Budget Traveler doesn't just mean saving money, but also traveling in the smartest, most stylish way possible. I hope to inspire others to check off their bucket list destinations at any age, on any budget.

For more insider tips, I highly recommend reading HOW TO TRAVEL THE WORLD ON $50 A DAY: TRAVEL CHEAPER, LONGER, SMARTER by Matt Kepnes.


 

STAY LOVELY, STAY CURIOUS - TRISH FRENCH

-A BLONDE'S WORLDLY WISDOM-


ASK ME YOUR QUESTIONS, LEAVE ME A COMMENT, OR TELL ME ABOUT YOUR TRAVELS!


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