If you haven’t already noticed, Jay and I love to travel. But don’t want to pay a premium to do it. We’ve learned that by making a few sacrifices, we are able to travel far and often without breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how you can do this too:
We aren’t extravagant at home.
As I mentioned last week, when we’re in DC we try to keep things economical. We’re not the couple you’ll find dining out all the time. When we do dine out, its usually a social occasion with friends. We also don’t pay full-price when we go on dates, usually coupon sites like Groupon or Living Social are involved in our ‘together time.’ We also don’t ever buy coffees or lunch on a daily basis. Seriously, do the math, $3.15 for a grande Salted Caramel Mocha Latte every morning x5 days a week x52 weeks. You could rent a car for 3 days with your coffee money.
We travel in the off season.
There are many bonuses to traveling off-season, one of which is money. Traveling off-season has allowed us to not only go on longer vacations, but also have a more flexible itinerary, avoid the crowds, see more sights without the lines, and have a more positive experience.
We visit friends and relatives.
A lot of our trips are to visit friends and relatives, or include them at some point. In our most recent trip to New Zealand, we stopped in LA to visit our former roommate Mary. Currently we’re in Vegas visiting with my friend Charlotte; this summer/fall we have a few trips south planned to see Jay’s family. Visiting friends and family can have some great bonuses, like staying somewhere fun for free (our couch is always available to friends for free) and seeing a part of the town that may not be accessible to most tourists (like that one underground coffee shop that everyone knows about but no one’s been to). Some of my favorite trips have been visiting with the ones we love and them visiting us.
We enjoy the outdoors.
At this point you all have realized that we love the outdoors, but the outdoors has also provided us with some great trips and experiences. Whether its hiking in Shenandoah with our friends (practically our own backyard) or kayaking in Abel Tasman, the great outdoors has provided us with some unique vacation experiences. The best thing about the outdoors: it’s free.
We use points and travel rewards.
Who doesn’t like to save money? This year two of our trips have been subsidized due to travel rewards. Jay flew to NOLA and I flew to Vegas basically for free thanks to credit card points. Sometimes I actually wonder why I didn’t switched cards earlier. Our Capital One card is super easy to use, get points, and redeem towards qualifying travel we purchase from whoever we want. That’s right, we don’t have to go through they’re website to book our next trip using points. It doesn’t matter which program you use as long as you use it to it’s full potential. I am very guilty of signing up for every free rewards program that comes along, but in the long run, the ones that are the most valuable are the ones you actually use.
Don’t be too extravagant.
Vacations are a time to relax and have fun, unfortunately for many, they are also a time when budgets go out the window. While Jay and I love to relax and have fun on vacation, we also realize that a sacrifice here of there can quickly add up. When we visited Sydney we soon discovered that eating out was super expensive. When we first arrived, we headed to the local information center and got a few recommendation from the local guides. These guides are great because they are locals, they’re fiercely proud of their city, and they’re paid to help you figure out what to do. They’ll tell you the ‘touristy’ stuff to do, but if you’re honest about what you’re looking for, they’ll tell you the best places to get what you want. As a result of an hour of talking, we had one of our most memorable and economical dinners of the whole trip in Chinatown.
Indulge in your own way.
In New Zealand,we shopped in the local grocery stores and ate almost every evening meal at our campsite. It not only saved us a ton of money but it allowed us to meet other travelers and have some much needed down time at the end of the day. In Sydney, we often found ourselves back at our hotel room relaxing before dinner with a bottle of Australian wine (again from the grocery store). We still got to try some wines we had never heard before, but at a fraction of the cost of having them in the restaurants. We aren’t ashamed to admit we visit the local grocery store on trips, next time you’re on a trip abroad, buy at least 3 meals-worth of food from the grocery store. Talk about plunging into a culture. When traveling on our home soil, grocery shopping allows us to save on the everyday things (Looking at you, $9 salad from McDonalds). Pro-tip here: There is nothing wrong with pre-gaming a big night out with friends in your room first!
What are your tips to make vacation a little bit more affordable?