*all photos and opinions are my own*
Travel has always intrigued the masses, especially when you’re 22 and graduating from college. We’re always told to travel before we settle down or when we can, but more times than not, the money just isn’t there. That’s why I’m sharing with you my favorite ways to Travel for the Low.
Flight cost often takes up a huge chunk of travel budgets, so here are some of my favorite ways to save:
+ Keep in mind that having airport flexibility might end up saving you a couple of hundred dollars. I saved around $600 on a flight by driving to Austin from Houston and flying out of Austin-Bergstrom Airport rather than flying direct out of IAH. You can also save by flying into a nearby airport to your destination.
Airfordable is a website that allows you to finance your plane ticket over time, instead of buying it outright. Instead of having to load a major ticket at once on your credit card, you can pay it down little by little. You receive your airline ticket as soon as you payoff your remaining balances. This service is great for those West Coast Summer trips, or trips abroad.
EscapeHouston is a site where you can find deals both domestic and international with the dates they’re available. For example, there’s currently a deal from Houston to Amsterdam (non-stop) or Houston to Paris (one stop) for $412-455 round-trip. When I went to Paris from Houston last May, it was upwards of $600 round-trip with one stop. There are also Escape sites for Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio/ Austin, New York/Newark, Chicago/Milwaukee, and Los Angeles.
SIGN UP FOR THEIR EMAIL LIST! I can’t tell you how many deals Frontier has for incredibly cheap throughout the year. They give great discounts and have several options for cheap trips to help itch your travel bug. I’ve flown Frontier from Dallas to Denver for $68 ROUNDTRIP for a day trip, and it was totally worth it. I had no issues with the flight and was comfortable. I don’t usually sleep on flights but I slept through the entire flight both there and back!
Kiwi is one of my favorite sites to use when I get the travel bug but don’t know where should go. You can type your home airport, your dates of travel (if you don’t have any, just choose anytime) and in the destination you can choose anywhere. It’ll load the top destinations, and if you click show cheapest, it’ll give you a list of the cheapest destinations. It’s basically a travel bug generator where you can also purchase flights from, or you can use it to daydream, like I sometimes do.
This is a great way to travel within Europe for super cheap. It allows flexibility to country hop, and I’m so excited to use it for my next trip abroad!
Getting to the Airport:
If your family or friends can’t drop/pick you up, these are some great options for getting to and from the airport.
Personally, I love love LOVE using Lyft. They are my rideshare company preference when it comes to going out or traveling. I’ve never had a negative experience using Lyft, especially as a solo traveler. Before deciding to use Lyft for your airport pick up and drop off, you can use the fare estimate to see if it’s more economical for you. Sometimes it’s actually cheaper to park at the airport than it is to Lyft. I always use the fare estimate in order to decide which one works best for me. You can also use my code (second link above) as a first time Lyft user to get $10 towards your first ride!
To check your airport’s park and ride costs, you can google your airport’s parking options and see what makes sense for you!
Much like the parking situation, accommodations can either be cheaper as an AirBnB than a hotel or vice versa. It also depends on what you’re looking for on a trip. If you want housekeeping and a more luxurious feel, then maybe a hotel is for you, but this is about budget traveling.
+ Traveling with a friend always cuts down accommodation prices! See if any of your friends or family is up for an adventure before booking!
+ Travel somewhere where you have friends/family/sorority sisters/fraternity brothers/etc. A free stay is a for me stay!
When it comes to traveling, I always look at AirBnB before I check hotels. AirBnB’s tend to have a more local feel so that you can really soak in the culture and what daily life might feel like for residents. You can select to have a private room in the residence, or the entire place to yourself. I’ve done both a private room and entire place and have never had problems at any of my AirBnB stays. The additional benefit of an AirBnB is that you can buy some meal or snack items at the local market and make them at your AirBnB. It helps reduce meal prices, which is another massive chunk of travel budgets. You can use my code (see above) for a $40 credit towards your first AirBnB stay!
VRBO (pronounced ver-bo) is similar to AirBnB, but has been around longer. It sometimes has cheaper options than AirBnB and hotels, which is why it makes the list. My family and I have used VRBO at least 2 times, in Key West and the Bahamas, and both times we had no problems and a great stay. Sometimes the location as well as the price is better than AirBnB and hotels, something we found to be true in our recent trip to Key West.
Workaway is a unique opportunity where you can work/volunteer at various places in the world in exchange for accommodation and meals. Some of the options have a minimum stay, but I’ve seen many that don’t. This not only feeds the soul, but also exposes you to different cultures and covers majority of your travel costs. I haven’t used this service yet, but I’m super excited to! There is a sign up fee of $36 for one person for 1 year, or $40 for a couple or two people for 1 year. There is also an option to gift workaway to someone interested!
Saving for Travel:
Now that I’ve covered all of my budget travel tricks, I’ll share with yall some of the best ways to save. Little adjustments can make the biggest differences in whether you can afford an additional day somewhere or a shopping spree in Europe.
+ Eat at home/cut out Starbucks etc.
The less money you spend, the more you have to put towards travels. Those $5 coffees start to add up. For a venti and a croissant, I spend around $9. If I spend that just once a week for a month, that’s $36 that can be a museum entrance fee and a snack. Instead of going out with my girls and spending money on drinks, we can BYOB to someone’s place and Netflix for absurdly less without having to get dressed up. It seems like common sense but sometimes you have to really put thought into where your money is going versus where it could go.
+ Drop your fitness studios for an at home work out
I know, I know, I love my local fitness studios too. Whether it’s a dance studio for choreography, yoga, pilates, cycling, or barre, all of them add up. Don’t want to sacrifice them all? The YMCA (among other gyms) has a monthly membership for sub-$100 that provides classes for literally all of this and it’s in one place. With exception to cycling, you can YouTube yoga, pilates, barre, and choreo work outs from the comfort of your home FO’ FREE. Still want that cardio? Guess what else is free? Running at your Local Park or bayou. Bam. Sorted. The money you save by cutting out those $25 per single class studio fees is insane. If you go twice a week for a month, that’s $200 spent. Now, if you did those workouts at home, that’s $200 towards your trip. Post travel, you can always go back, but if you want a fast save, skip the studio and hit YouTube.
+ Sell your old clothes (you know, the dress you *said* you were going to wear but haven’t)
If you ask my friends, it’s almost as if I’m in a constant cycling of cleaning out my closet and selling or donating items. My favorite sites to use are Poshmark, Mercari, and Facebook Marketplace. You can also see if Plato’s Closet, the GameStop of the clothing resale world, will give you anything or your items, or head over to Buffalo Exchange to try and resell your old items.
+ Set up a savings account for travel or get a travel jar
Some people need to physically see their travel savings add up, so a travel jar is a great idea. You can take that change that’s been in your car’s cup holder and watch it add up. For others, setting up a separate travel account does just as well. Taking a percentage or a set amount from every paycheck and depositing it in this account allows it to build up, as well as taking what you save weekly by cutting out eating out or studio classes and depositing it. For some people, it’s easier to take the $5 they usually put towards their morning coffee and put it in a jar. For others, it’s easier to transfer their saved money from one account to their travel account. It just depends on what you’re comfortable with and what works for and motivates you.
So there it is, all of my tricks for traveling on the low, and even saving tips to help get you there sooner. Let me know how they work for you!