People always ask me how as a single parent I manage to travel internationally every year. Most assume that international travel is exceedingly expensive, but I can normally do a 2 week trip to Italy for my son and myself for less than a 2 week trip to Hawaii.
It just comes down to knowing how to work your way around the system.
With a few simple travel hacks up your sleeve, the world becomes your oyster.
7 Great Travel Hacks To See The World On A Budget
1. Frequent Flier Miles
The most obvious way to do it is by using frequent flier miles. Sign up for them through the airlines when you travel. Airlines are either part of One World or Star Alliance, so even if you are flying with multiple airlines you can generally consolidate those miles.
Also use credit cards with great frequent flier programs, such as American Express, Chase Sapphire and Capital One Venture. Use the card like a debit card, never running a balance, but running every possible expense through the card.
You would be amazed at how much you spend each year on food, transport, cell phone bills, utilities etc. At worst you will get a mile per dollar spent, but frequently you will get 2x or even 3x that.
A free round trip to Europe is normally around 50,000 or 60,000 miles, a trip from USA to Australasia is around 80,000 miles during peak seasons. A trip from the USA to Europe can run as low as 30,000 miles in the off season
You can easily earn a free round trip ticket every year without spending a single dollar more than you are spending now.
2. Keep Your Dates Flexible
If possible don’t be married to specific dates. You can save drastically by moving your dates by just a couple of days. Normally Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s are cheaper days to fly. Sometimes moving your trip by just a couple of days can save you hundreds of dollars. At the moment I’m prepping this year’s Glam Italia Tour and by moving our start date by 2 days everyone will save $900 on their return airline ticket. Which means $900 more to spend at Prada!
3. Look At Alternate Airports
Sometimes flying into a nearby airport is considerably cheaper than going to your main airport. I prefer London Gatwick to London Heathrow, and it’s sometimes cheaper. If Rome is your final destination try flying into Milan instead and then catching either a cheap internal flight or go 1st class on the fast train and you will still come up hundreds of dollars cheaper.
I’ve known people to fly to Munich or Berlin and then take a sleeper cabin in an over night train, adding a few commuting hours, albeit in gorgeous comfort, and saving money.
Train travel in Europe is just fantastic. Super affordable, often luxurious, and the view as you travel is always stunning.
Look at multi flight options too. Maybe there’s a cheap flight from the US to Copenhagen for $500 roundtrip, and Copenhagen to Rome is only $200 round trip, saving you $1000 on airfare – the more you look around, the better deals you can find.
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4. Avoid Hotels.
If you want to keep your trip to a budget don’t stay in hotels. Air B&B offers rooms for rent in people’s homes, which is probably the least expensive way to travel. Personally I rent apartments every place I go. I choose gorgeous areas, rent divine apartments and spend a fraction of the money a hotel would cost. Renting an apartment gives you an entirely different experience. Rather than being a casual observer, you feel like you are a part of the community. I love it!
5. Eat In.
One of the glorious benefits of renting an apartment is that you don’t eat out all the time. I love to go to local stores and markets, pick up local foods and dine in. Eating at home cuts down the amount of food you consume (and the calories!) so you are less likely to overeat. Having a mix of eating out and eating in can save you a small fortune, but also can be much more relaxing as well as fun.
6. Pre-order Online
If you are planning on buying tickets to major tourist sites, try buying tickets online ahead of time. I do this for major art museums and tourist spots, and it not only saves dollars but also saves you time as you are not spending hours of your vacation standing in line.
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7. Take The Train
Flying and renting cars (in Europe anyway) can be unnecessarily costly. Train travel in Europe is exceptional. It always seems to be efficient, on time, and relaxing.
If you will be moving around a lot look at a Eurorail Pass, if only traveling a little look at booking tickets online, ahead of time for substantial savings.