When you think of budget travel, you likely think of staying in sleazy hostels and traveling with nothing but the bag on your back.
Budget travel is so much more than that though. In fact, you don't necessarily have to sacrifice comfort to save money. You can. But, you don't have to.
In order to prove this to you, I will show you 5 stupidly easy ways to save money on travel that don't require you to sacrifice your comfort.
Let's get started!
1. Find Cheap Flights
Okay, you're probably thinking that this is easier said than done!
And, about a year ago, I would have agreed with you.
However, I have since discovered an amazing tool that you're going to freak about.
Cheap Fly Club is a service that sends emails straight about cheap flights straight to your inbox.
I use Cheap Fly Club to help me find the cheapest destinations to travel to.
If you're open to visiting many different destinations, Cheap Fly Club is perfect for you! But, if you're not, you'll probably want to stick to scouring Skyscanner.
Still not sure about whether or not Cheap Fly Club is for you?
Watch my review below!
2. Swap Houses with Someone
This probably sounds pretty intimidating, but it's actually a wonderful way to save hundreds or thousands of dollars (depending on how often you travel) on sleeping accommodations.
Both of these sites are well renowned for home swapping. But, please know that I have never used either of them, so I can't tell you anything about them from personal experience. However, there seem to be many happy users.
While the sleeping accommodations are free, there is an annual fee (about $150 for each) to use the website, which makes sense because they need to make money to operate somehow.
This is a pretty decent chunk of change; however, if you plan on going anywhere for more than 2 nights each year, this will easily pay for itself.
How to Make House Swapping Work for You
In order for house swapping to be beneficial, you need to live in city people want to visit.
If you live in Springfield Missouri, you might have a difficult time finding people to swap houses with because there isn't a huge draw to Springfield--not a lot of people want to visit for the heck of it. (Please know that I have nothing against Springfield, it's a lovely place.)
Also, you'll want to be flexible with your dates.
The house swap requires both you and someone else to take a vacation at the same time, so make sure that your dates are flexible so that you have more of a chance for finding a match.
3. House Sitting
This is similar to house swapping, only no one stay at your place while you're gone.
While it might sound strange, some people want someone to look after their house and/or their pets while they're away.
You might be wondering why they would be okay with a total stranger staying in their house and looking after their pets, and that's a valid question.
It's for the same reason that you want to house sit for total strangers: free services.
So, you get a place you can stay at for free and the owner gets someone to look after their house and/or pets for free.
You might be thinking that a stranger would never trust you to watch their house for them, but there are some third-party websites that actually make building trust between strangers easier!
Trusted Housesitters is one of the biggest websites that homeowners use to find house-sitters.
There is an annual fee ($120), but it easily pays for itself after your first house-sitting gig.
Keep in mind that it might be difficult to get your first house-sitting gig. But, the more houses you watch, the more references you'll gain, and the more trustworthy homeowners will find you.
If you want to learn more about how to start house sitting, read this article.
4. Stop Planning
All of the money saving methods that I have mentioned so far do require you to be flexible, which is understandable.
When it comes to saving money, you usually can't have your cake and eat it, too. You have to sacrifice something for the discount.
You may be used to picking the dates you want to go and finding accommodations and flights that fit within that time frame.
However, all of the money saving tips I've given you so far really do require that you're a bit more flexible than that.
Still, they all require a bit of planning.
For this next tip, I'm actually going to tell you that you don't have to plan your sleeping accommodations.
Yep, don't book them.
If you hate planning, you're probably jumping for joy right now.
On the other hand, if planning makes you feel secure and safe, you're probably getting ready to skip to the next point, but hang tight.
I absolutely understand if the idea of not booking sleeping accommodations before arriving at a destination makes you anxious because the thought of it scares me, too!
There is something to be said for grabbing last minute accommodations because they're usually heavily discounted.
Hotel Tonight is a great website to use to find last minute hotel deals.
I must admit that since I'm such a planner, I would recommend checking out what kind of deals are available on various nights before you actually arrive at your destination.
You want to make sure that there might actually be some good deals when you get there.
Also, make sure that there are no huge events in town before relying on a last minute hotel because the hotels can sell out, leaving you without a place to stay.
5. Follow the Locals
Not in a creepy way.
Just take note of where the locals are eating and go there!
Often, the locals will avoid the touristy restaurants.
Touristy restaurants are often overpriced. Plus, you could get a much more authentic meal at a mom and pop shop down the street.
Finding amazing and affordable restaurants can be as easy and just walking a couple streets over (away from the tourist attractions).
Take advantage of Google reviews, as well. Just because a restaurant isn't touristy doesn't mean it's good. If it's empty, there might be a good reason, so consult Google before sitting down.
Don't Over-Complicate It
Traveling on a budget isn't difficult, so don't over-complicate it!
There are plenty of creative solutions to your travel pain points.
In this list, you learned how to find cheap flights, cheap sleeping accommodations, and cheap food.
Those are the biggest travel expenses.
And, I didn't even cover all the ways you can save money on those three things either. There are a lot more, which we can talk about another time.
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