Upon checking my bank account I realized that I didn’t spend all that much money on my latest trip. In fact, I barely spent anything at all!
Here I was worried that a trip would be a huge financial burden on the bank account when in reality all I really paid for was a plane ticket ($196 isn’t even that bad), a day pass for DC public transit ($9) and some food here and there.
So how did I do it? The same way I always do it. Cheap lodging, having a kitchen handy, rewards cards and good planning.
Aside from using my savings plan to be able to afford a plane ticket, I also use some other techniques to ensure that a trip won’t burn a hole in my wallet.
1. I couch surf. In fact, I’d say after Nicole (hilarious blogger!) I’m the queen of couch surfing. From gym floors to convents, I think I’ve slept almost everywhere. I don’t need a hotel room, usually I just need an air mattress and a blanket.
2. I don’t check baggage. I don’t want the hassle and if it wasn’t for my airline miles loyalty program I’d have to shell out some cash for checking. I was taught to travel light as a kid and I take it rather literally. Having to move all your shit (in addition to helping your roommates move all their shit) twice a year when you’re in college also helps you realize the beauty of having less crap.
3. I love airline miles. Once I realized I would be taking a trip at least once a year I realized I needed to make it as cost effective as possible – or at least have it doing some work for me!
Although I haven’t fully experienced the beauty of airline miles I did get a taste of it when I had priority boarding on my last trip. I also learned that in some airports I can go through security much faster because of said priority boarding. Oh and if I did ever have to check baggage I wouldn’t be paying for it which is a nice chunk of cash when you consider that you’re probably on a round trip. In addition, eventually you can cash these miles in for free flights and upgrades. Seriously, I have a couple of friends that just went to Japan using airline miles.
You can also rack up miles in ways that won’t drown you in debt. For instance, I just got a boat load of extra miles for buying my mom flowers for Mother’s Day, purchasing a dress from Nordstrom with a gift card I had leftover from my birthday and shipping a package with FedEx. Oh and this was in addition to the extra miles I got for my trip.
Usually I stay away from loyalty cards because of the ridiculous interest rates but I do believe you can benefit from airline miles. Now, for those of you who still need some convincing consider this – would you rather save 10% on some bra from Victoria’s Secret when you can get a decent bra at Target or would you rather save 10% or more on a plane ticket to Europe? No brainer.
While I am an airline miles enthusiast, I am by no means an expert on this subject so I highly recommend checking out The Frugal Travel Guy and The Points Guy if you’d like to learn how to really make this stuff work for you.
4. I use public transit in the city. I use public transit everyday at home and it’s no different when I’m on vacation. Or well, at least not if I’m in a city. If your destination offers safe public transit then I highly suggest using it. It’s cheaper than renting a car that requires you to put gas in it.
On a related note, don’t even think about filling up your tank near an airport! If $5.00 for Regular isn’t price gauging then I don’t know what is.
And those are my tips for traveling on the cheap. Since I have a trip to New York in the fall I plan on finding even more ways to travel light and cheap.
What are some of your travel tips?
I know many of you travel because of your jobs, businesses, personal development or even for leisure. Feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments section!