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5 Ways to Stick to a Budget While Traveling

5 Ways to Stick to a Budget While Traveling
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From out-of-state weddings to visiting family and friends, I do quite a bit of traveling. But as a woman in my twenties, fresh out of college (or maybe just relatively fresh at this point), I’m on a pretty tight budget. I’ve gotten pretty creative over the last few years on ways to save money and maximize my budget.

And because sharing is caring, here are some of my best tips on how you can save some change when you travel.

1. Pack More, Pay More

To all of you overpackers out there, I get it. I am one of you. And I’m not judging. However, your overpacking habit could have a negative impact on your wallet. If you’re checking a bag when you fly, you’re usually paying $50 in fees (unless you’re flying Southwest).

Try to control the urge to over-pack (do you really need three sweaters in the middle of summer?) and make it a goal to fit everything into a carry-on bag. If you really need that checked bag, keep reading for a way you might be able to escape those baggage fees.

2. Loyalty Pays

I’ve said before that I am #teamDelta and I fly with them as much as I can. Whether or not you are #teamDelta (you can like a different airline, it’s totally fine), it pays to be loyal to an airline. When you fly consistently with an airline, you can start collecting miles for each trip you take (assuming you’ve created a frequent flyer profile). More miles = free trips. The more trips you take with one airline, the sooner you’ll have enough miles for a plane ticket.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you might want to think about opening an airline credit card. Most airlines offer perks when you open a credit card (like, two tickets-worth of miles, perks) in addition to things like priority boarding and free checked bags.

3. I’d App That

Flying is typically more expensive than driving (but usually less time-consuming, depending on where you’re going), but there are a few apps that can help you cut down on cost.

Hopper

Hopper is an app that helps you find the best (read: cheapest) time to buy your flight. When you enter your travel dates and destination, Hopper will “watch” that flight for you and tell you the best time to purchase your flight. The app predicts flight pricing patterns. What I love about this app is that I can play around with different dates and airports to compare the best flight for my budget. One thing to note, there are a few airlines Hopper doesn’t watch. That being said, I’ve generally found that when prices are lower on Hopper airlines, they’re usually lower for other airlines as well.

Scott’s Cheap Flights

Okay, Scott’s Cheap Flights isn’t an app. It’s a site. But if you’re looking to travel internationally, this website finds some incredible flight prices for you. I don’t know how they do their voodoo magic, but yes, I will take a roundtrip ticket to Paris for $400.

4. Don’t Pay to Stay

Where you stay when you travel can be a great way to save money—if you plan it right. If you’re visiting friends and family, there’s a good chance you’ll have a guest bed (or at least a couch) to sleep on for free. Don’t know anyone in the city you’re going to? Convince a friend—or two or three—to be your travel buddy. Paying for a place to stay is much easier when you’re splitting the cost between multiple people.

And don’t be afraid to shop around for a place to stay. Usually Airbnbs are cheaper than hotels, but I’ve occasionally lucked out on hotel deals.

5. Don’t Just “Wing It”

When you’re traveling, planning your itinerary can help you better prepare for your trip and stay within your budget. Start by making a list of things you want to do in a new city, and then narrow it down. It’s easy to feel like you have to do *everything* in a new city, but pick just a few things you want to do. It’ll save you money and keep you from getting overwhelmed.

If you want to experience a new city, but don’t want to spend your trip running from place to place, consider researching festivals or games happening in the city.

Last modified on March 8th, 2019

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