Travelling on a Budget
I am frequently asked how I afford to travel so regularly, and the truth is, it’s all I spend my money on really (except my nails…). I have been obsessed with travel for as long as I could remember, way back when I went into the travel agent with my mum and we booked a holiday to Disney World. I was 9 at the time. It was at that point I decided I wanted to BE a travel agent, and then my ambitions led me to the dream of building my own tropical eco hotel. Of course, the latter idea never came to fruition (one day maybe?), but I did become a travel agent. Well, a ‘Personal Travel Expert’ for a luxury tour operator based in the UK.
I have learnt a lot along the way, the best ways to save money, and how to travel within my budget and not miss out on what I want.
Consider Working Within the Travel Industry
If you are really serious about wanting to travel regularly, I would recommend working within travel. Not only do you receive some very good staff perks (flight vouchers, hotel discounts, free nights), but you can often be the first to find out about specific deals. If you work for a tour operator or agent you will often find yourself being sent on ‘fam trips’ – these are familiarisation trips where you get to visit hotels and destinations so you can sell them better. Whilst I was working as a PTE I went to Antigua and Mexico, staying in 5* hotels at no expense to myself, it was fab!
So many people make the mistake of thinking you can’t travel to a destination at certain times of the year. For the last ten years, Alex and I have been visiting countries ‘off-peak’. This is often when there is more rain, humidity, or it could be really cold! However, so far we have never had our holidays ruined by the weather.
By travelling in the rainy season we often save 50-70% on accommodation, we once went on a 6 week trip through South-East Asia, paying just £1,500 (including flights), in nice hotels too! We saw lots of nice weather along the way too, often these tropical destinations see plenty of sun through the showers.
For those who are very weather reliant on their travels, it is worth considering travelling in the shoulder season, rather than completely off-peak. This is when the seasons are shifting so you will get plenty of good weather too. Not only can you save around 30% on accommodation, but destinations are also much quieter so you can enjoy yourself more!
Join a Hotel Rewards Programme
Whilst in Kuala Lumpur, Alex and I managed to enjoy 5 nights at the 5* Aloft Hotel for free, thanks to his SPG points. There are many hotel chains that come under the same conglomerate and you can collect points for each night you stay! Not just that, many hotels will offer rewards if you don’t ask for your towels and linen to be washed every night, these can all add up to a good amount of points. Make sure to stick to the same points system when you travel, the points will go further.
Get a Debit/Credit Card with no Internation Fees
There are so many cards out there which will not charge you fees when you use your card abroad. If you travel regularly these can save you so much money! Some will charge a small fee annually or monthly, and some are completely free of charge. Please click here to read an article by money.co.uk comparing your different options.
No, you don’t have to fly via 3 different cities before reaching your final destination, but by adding one stopover you can save over £100 on flights!
Use Price Comparison Websites
If you know exactly where you want to fly and who flies there, it can be tempting to search for flights directly through an airlines website. However, you can save a lot of money by using websites such as Skyscanner or Kayak which will show you all your different options and airlines and which is the cheapest.
It’s not just flights you can save on, you can compare prices of hotels and car hire too! My go-to hotel price comparison website is hotelscombined.com.
Fly on a Week Day
From my experience working in travel, flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday tend to be cheaper. I could go into the technicalities behind flight pricing, but to put it in simple terms, the flights with the least seats booked will always be cheaper. Flying on Fridays and weekends are always more popular!
Keep Up on Social Media
In the last year or so I have found great sale prices for hotels and flights, through their social media accounts! Many hotels will offer flash sales and these are a great time to book. Alex and I are off to Thailand this week and our first hotel was offering 60% off on the weekend we booked it, this saved us over £400 on a four-night stay! We wouldn’t have known about this offer had I not been following the hotel on Instagram.
There have been times I have trawled through price comparison websites and still not been able to afford a single thing on there! On these occasions, I have always found great accommodation through Airbnb for way cheaper than any of the hotels, and often in a better location too!
If you want to receive £25 off your first stay, you can sign up using my link here.
Use Your Legs Instead of a Taxi
Not only is walking great for your physical and mental wellbeing, but it’s also free! It can be so tempting to take a quick taxi journey across town, but not only does this cost money, you miss out on so much. Walk instead and see what you find.
There are many cities across the world that have tourist hot spots in each area. Restaurant prices are far higher in neighbourhoods popular with tourists, why not get to know the more local areas and eat there instead? Your wallet will be much happier for it.
Don’t Buy Currency at the Airport
Just don’t do it! The rates are awful. If you get to the airport and realise you have forgotten to buy foreign currency, wait until you reach your destination and just head for the nearest ATM machine. If the ATM gives you an option to have the money converted by the machine or your bank, always choose your bank!