Travel has always been seen as being too expensive for most people..
Can it be?
Yes, of course.
Is it always, though?
As the internet evolves, there has been an ever-increasing trend of prices going down.
Wait, hold up–how can traveling be made cheaper???
1. Be as flexible as possible.
Be as flexible as possible both when looking for a destination and time of year you want to go.
Most of the best travel deals you can find will be to travel hotspots during an off or shoulder season.
What’s an off/shoulder season?
Off and shoulder seasons are seasons where destinations are generally less busy. It may be tied to school calendar, religious calendar, or weather during a particular time of year. For example, prime time to go to Florida is during school vacations and colder months, as many wish to escape the cold. It may be cheaper to go to Florida when it is less desirable, perhaps in the summer or fall. Most of Southeast Asia falls under the “wet/dry season” umbrella, with the months of November to February being generally more dry and cooler, thus making it more tolerable for tourism than the wet season which is when the heat is oppressive or it rains often. Most of Europe is popular to visit in the summer months, as that is when many are out of school until the fall, so I’ve found that both spring and fall are the best time to visit, as the weather is generally still good but the number of tourists declines.
Why should I travel during off/shoulder season?
It definitely depends on what you’re looking for out of your trip and if you’re able to travel during non-peak times (ie. teachers and students being restricted to the summer or during winter break). Prices tend to decrease a bit once the crowds head out. Airlines and hotels want to continue their high occupancy, so they typically drop prices a bit in order to lure us budget travelers in! Make sure to do your research when looking at a destination, however, as it may not be worth it to go in an off or shoulder season. Find out if there are major holidays or times of year that many shops close up, as it could affect your experience in your destination.
Why should I be flexible in my destination choice?
Similar to traveling during an off or shoulder season, certain destinations can differ in whether or not they’re affordable to both get to and stay in. You may be able to find affordable flights to Paris and London because they’re hub cities, but where you save on flights you may spend 5x that amount just for accommodations. Be sure to check out hotel, Airbnb, or hostel prices before confirming those flights!
2. Utilize tools like Skyscanner and Google Flights.
These tools are nearly identical and both perform the same task–they comb the internet compiling hundreds of possible flights on any given day and allows you compare both dates and destinations all within one platform. You can filter “under $XXX” to find flights within your price range (if they exist).
3. Subscribe to Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Scott’s Cheap Flights delivers flight deals from any airport and delivers it straight to your email. It runs off of Google Flights, so when you receive the email from Scott’s, you must go over to Google Flights, plug in the parameters (airport, destination, date, etc.) given in the email in order to find and possibly book the flights. I’ve found a number of great options that I’ve ended up booking, so I can personally attest to this working! Did I mention its FREE?!
4. Budget airlines can be your friend.
Take that with a huge grain of salt. It is always situational, so they could be your best friend or worst enemy.
Pros of budget airlines
- Their fares* are typically more affordable,
- good for those very budget-conscious,
- often fly to more obscure destinations, and
- might offer more departure options.
Cons of Budget Airlines
- Flights often fly into smaller airports further from the city,
- fares may not include seats, bags, or meals, meaning you may have to pay for those option, and
- some airlines do not have reclining seats.
The decision simply comes down to what you need or want while flying. Those who have certain limitations may not be best suited for flying a budget airlines, but those like me who have no care in the world and simply want to get from one destination to the next under any circumstances would feel fine on a budget airline.
Typically, you’ll have to pay extra for seat selection ($8-$25+ per leg), checked bags ($30-$50 per bag), and meals ($20+), so if you only have a carry on, don’t care about where you sit, and are ok with BYO food, it’s a great option. However, if you want all of these amenities, it may be best to go with a larger, seemingly more expensive carrier (United, Delta, etc.).
5. Consider staying in accommodations other than a hotel.
If you want to meet people and are okay with the reduced privacy and luxury, I’ll ALWAYS be an advocate for staying in hostels. I’ve met some of the best people paying $15 a night for a bed in a 10 person dorm.
However, that’s not for everyone and that’s 100% okay. When I’m traveling with my partner, we typically forgo a hostel in favor of a BnB or AirBnB. There are endless gems when it comes to these properties, and you typically get a more genuine experience in comparison to staying in a chain hotel, often for the same or lesser price.