Breathing in the fresh air, experiencing diverse cultures, and burying your toes in exotic sand, traveling combines all the good things life has to offer.
If traveling has been your ultimate dream all your life, just like mine, you probably scroll through travel bloggers’ Instagram pages wondering how they can afford to travel at all?
I mean, what’s their job? I would love to switch careers!
Let me take you in on a secret. Although traveling is expensive, it does not have to be that way. All you have to do is shift a little from the conventional methods and try out some travel hacks to travel cheaply.
Here’s a list of my tried and tested travel hacks to save money, which you should try out and start traveling cheap.
1. Turn on the Incognito Tab
I know what you’re thinking; no one ever does that unless they’re doing some shady business. But, what if I told you it is a good idea while looking for flights online?
Besides that, if you search for flights through a regular tab, you’ll get prices based on your location. If you live in the UK or the US, they’ll display high prices for you compared to Middle Eastern browsers.
That’s because the price range is based on the strength of your currency. You can easily change your location settings in an incognito tab to a country with weaker currency than yours. Believe it or not, you can end up saving hundreds of dollars using this hack.
2. Time Your Bookings
You probably think I’ll tell you to book your flights off-season. While that’s the truth, you can get even cheaper flights if you time your bookings in the middle of the week, around Tuesday or Wednesday.
Similarly, if you want to streamline your search further to get the best prices, try to look for flights in the afternoon.
That’s because most flight booking agencies and business travelers tend to make their travel booking in the morning, so the sites hike the prices up at the time.
Eventually, when there’s less traffic on these websites in the afternoon, they lower their prices back to the original rates, so you’re more likely to get good deals.
3. Sign Up for Notifications
Sometimes, airlines post mistake fares, which get picked up quickly by online booking sites. However, these mistakes are usually corrected within minutes, so you’ll have to be quick.
Now let’s face it, you cannot keep scrolling through booking sites all day. That’s where email alerts come in. You can sign up for regular email notifications for multiple flight booking sites.
Some of them provide the service for free, while others charge a small premium. This way, whenever there’s a mistake fare or a considerable price drop, you’ll be the first one to know and book the flight immediately at unbelievable prices.
4. Book Overnight Flights
Instead of paying for expensive accommodation, book overnight flights to sleep during travel and begin exploring in the morning. Similarly, if you’re traveling to different cities in your destination, try to travel by night using sleeper trains and buses.
You’ll be surprised to find out the luxuries transportation services provide these days at throwaway prices compared to overnight accommodation.
Make sure you pack along a comfy pillow, soft blanket, and a few sleeping masks to doze off comfortably during your trip.
5. Find Cheaper Accommodation
If you want to reduce your traveling expenses, the best way is to skip hotels altogether. Instead, find rental spaces in the local vicinity or go for sharing economy websites like Airbnb.
Not only will you get accommodation at lower prices, but you’ll also avoid the sneaky ways hotels get you to spend money. Moreover, by socializing with the locals, you’ll get easy access to public transportation and cheaper places to eat, reducing your expenses further.
Most importantly, by benefiting from locally-owned rental spaces, you’ll get a hands-on experience of your destination’s culture and create cherishable memories.
6. Go for Transit Flights with Long Stopovers
If you want to travel the world, you might as well go for every possible opportunity. A great way to explore two destinations at the price of one is by booking flights with long layovers.
For example, if you book a stopover flight from Qatar Airways, you’ll get to spend a day or two in Doha and visit the tourist attractions it has to offer.
What’s more, some airlines even offer free tour guides and accommodation during your stopover, so you can travel luxuriously while saving up on money.
7. Use Travel Credit Cards
You probably think travel credit cards are nothing more than scams that get you to book more flights. Well, you’re wrong. If you intend to travel frequently at cheap rates, these cards are a great way to fly cheap in the long run.
All you have to do is purchase your flights through the card and earn points to fly for free. Some cards even come with lots of bonus points, so you can receive benefits just for signing up.
Another way to maximize your savings is by buying airline cards along with general reward cards. This way, you can collect points from both sources and use them to get the ultimate advantage.
8. Buy Tourist Cards
Tourist cards are one of the easiest ways to save money while you’re at your destination. Cities with significant tourist attractions like Paris and London offer these passes around $100-$150.
These cards might seem expensive, but they give you access to most museums, parks, and adventure sports in the respective cities. Similarly, some places also offer free tour guides, lunch, and transportation on your city pass.
The ideal way is to purchase cards that stay valid for up to 2-3 days. This way, you can save money throughout your trip and make the most of your time in the city.
9. Eat Carefully
Wherever you are in the world, you’ll need food to sustain yourself. That’s why food is a major aspect that burns a hole in your pocket while you’re traveling. However, there are ways you can avoid spending outrageously on food.
First of all, try to avoid eating out regularly. It’s okay to indulge in a fine dinner once or twice. But, make it a point to cook your meals on regular days.
If you can’t cook, hit the local markets and devour the tasty street food they have to offer.
Another thing I’ve noticed as a frequent traveler is that significant tourist sites offer cheap lunches compared to dinner. At lunchtime, you’ll find lots of restaurants advertising their ‘Daily Specials.' Eat a big lunch and go light on dinner.
10. Go for Public Transport and RideSharing Options
If you’re visiting a city for only a day or two, you’re likely to spend a lot of your time moving around from one tourist attraction to the other. This can lead to substantial transportation expenses.
Luckily, most cities have affordable public transport options, including buses, trains, tourist vans, and tuk-tuks. Not only does this help you save money, but it also lets you get friendly with the locals.
11. Don’t Invest In Souvenirs
This is perhaps the most unpopular opinion on my list. But, whatever you do, do not spend your hard-earned money on expensive trinkets you find at the airport, local shopping malls, and markets.
Most vendors who sell them charge more than what they’re worth, so you’re just wasting your money.
Instead, save the souvenirs that matter. Such as your ticket stubs, boarding passes, and most importantly, your photos. These memories are enough to look back on the trip after you’re home.
And that’s my list. If you try to follow these tips, you’ll find that traveling is not that expensive after all.
You just have to compromise a little here and there, put your time into some research before setting out, and save a considerable amount to pay for your next trip. Do that, and your life will become just as exciting as any travel blogger.