Travel on a Budget

How To Travel On a Budget

I work 40+ hours a week and like most don’t have an unlimited supply of money, but I love to travel so I make it happen! A question I always get is how are you able to travel all of the time you must be rich… WRONG, I’m frugal AF. I budget, research, and travel during off peak seasons (this is key).

I get away about 5-6 times a year. I usually take one or two large trips (international travel) and then several longer weekend trips. My order of operation for trip plans and purchase is flights first, plan out my activities then find hotels I want to stay in.

Budget

I budget about $1000 – $2000 for larger trips (international) and $300 – $500 for shorter weekend trips. My budget includes (flight, shelter, transportation & activities). I find paying for my vacation over time works out best (no I don’t mean financing it on my credit card – unless it’s a travel card and I’ll pay it off in full at the end of the month). I avoid vacation packages because I find they tend to cost more money (I’m not a heavy drinker and I’m vegan).

Research

This is where I spend the most of my time because I’m always trying to find the best deals. I use several travel sites to find the best rates for flights and hotels/lodging. My go to platforms are SkyScanner, Hopper, HotWire, Expedia & AirBNB

Flights First

I usually tackle flights sooner rather than later because flight option are less flexible, once they fill up that’s it. You’re also more likely to find better pricing this way. My first stop is SkyScanner whenever I have a need to get away. I travel with two mindsets: I know where I want to go, I just want to get away. SkyScanner has this awesome ‘Cheapest Month’ option which I use every time I’m on their site.

I Know Where I Want to Go (SkyScanner)

I’ll go to SkyScanner’s site enter in my from->to information then select the ‘cheapest month’ option. Then I’ll lightly look around at the best prices, times for travel and what time of year it is.

I Just Want to Get Away (SkyScanner)

I’ll go to SkyScanner’s site enter in my from->to information then select, ‘Everywhere’ in the to section and ‘cheapest month’ or I’ll do the ‘specific dates’ option if my dates are limited. Then I’ll lightly look around at the best prices, times for travel and what time of year it is.

I Found A Place and I Like the Price

Once I find a place I’ll make note of the price (write it down, google docs, notes, anywhere) and then go to my hopper app to double check that I’m truly getting a good rate. There I enter in the specific information I found check there rate AND see if they think it’s a good time to buy (Major Key). If they don’t think it’s a good time to buy or I know flights to this place should be cheaper then I’ll add it to my watchlist as one round trip flight and two one-way trips.

Once I find a flight that I’m happy with paying for I’ll double check hotel/lodge rates for my travel time to make sure I’m able to get a room for a reasonable price as well. Why? Because sure it’s great if I can find a $100 round trip from NEWARK To Cancun but if all hotels are about $600/night because there’s a festival going on that I don’t know about then I’m not coming out on top there

Find Activities

This is where I plan out my activities. You may be thinking why don’t you book your hotel next?  

Reason: When I travel, I’m typically going to new place or trying new things, so I need to look up what the area has to offer, what peaks my interests and where it’s located. If I want to do activities that are across a few different town than this may mean spending a few nights in a few different hotels.

This part of the process is quite a meticulous process which involves TripAdvisor, Yelp, Blogs Sites etc. It takes me a few days to go through this step.  I use google sheets to plan the details of my day. I use this as an itinerary for my trip. You can check out my Houston Trip here:

Book Hotel

Once I find all of the activities I want to do and I’ve booked my flights, I find a hotel. I choose hotels based on a few conveniences (close to public transportation, close to activities, safe area, walkability, etc) I use Google Maps to map out my locations. Then I find a hotel that’s in that area or a neighborhood that is close enough. I use a lot of different sites depending on where I’m going, solo travel, versus accompanied, etc but my go to sites are typically Expedia, HotWire and AirBNB. These all have their pros and cons. I check rates across these sites and booked based on who offers the best rates.

Travel

I find buying my overall vacation in parts buy paying for flight, hotel, activities separately works best for me. It allows me to take a bit away each pay cycle instead of stressing over large amounts at once. If you have any travel questions feel free to ask.

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Vania’s Venmo




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