It’s no secret that I love to travel. It is also no secret that I love a good deal and can be kiiiiinda cheap. The thrill of getting a bargain, especially on an adventure or experience, just never gets old.
Travel is absolutely the area of my life I am willing to spend the most (well, perhaps besides healthy food), but that doesn’t mean I don’t absolutely love find a great deal every now and again. Over the years I have amassed a set of online tools that help me travel well on a budget. Thank goodness for the Internet!
These are the online resources and “hacks” I’ve been using to book budget travel. They’ve helped make experiences and places I previously thought prohibitively expensive accessible to me. Whether it’s been wanting to paddle board on the gorgeous crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe, stay in Barcelona’s beautiful and central Barrio Gotica or hop on a plane to attend a special event, by using these tools I’ve been able to make some of my travel dreams come true at a great price.
For my fellow expats, this list is awesome because if you’re anything like me, it is rough adjusting to a city like London where the cost of living is so high. A good deal can do wonders in making the city and the rest of Europe feel more accessible.
For anyone, anywhere my first tip is sign up for Travelzoo. Tell them where you live and sign up for their emails. Every week, they will send you their Top 20. The Top 20 lists are so good. They include anything from insane travel packages to Asia to great weekend stays just outside your city to Groupon-like deals at local spots, all at great prices. These emails are great for last minute getaways, big trip planning on a budget and travel inspiration.
We booked our incredible and incredibly cheap Mexico vacation a couple years ago through a deal I saw in a Travelzoo email. We booked it months in advance through the deal and it was by far the most relaxing week of my adult life.
When we went to Tahoe, I was inspired to check on what deals they offered there. We saved a bunch of money on an awesome stand-up paddle board tour out of Kings Beach. Highly, highly recommend!
I’ve hit the ground running here in London and have already used a Travelzoo voucher #cheapolife! Last week I went to afternoon tea at the lovely DUKES Hotel in St. James. For just £25 a person, we each got our own pot of tea, sandwiches and pastries and a glass of prosecco. They even accommodated my gluten allergy, no problem. It was such a lovely afternoon!
Already, I am tempted by the adorable deals they’ve been sending of different manors and inns in the English countryside. Can’t wait to book one of those, hopefully in the Spring!
Scott’s Cheap Flights
If you haven’t already signed up, this one is especially good. This guy Scott makes a living trolling the Internet for cheap flight deals and mistake fares. He sends out a few emails each week with some deals he’s found, when they’re good for, how long he thinks they’ll last and how to book. We’re talking $400 flights from the US to Asia here. Wild stuff.
This resource is US based (though coming to Europe soon!), but you learn a lot about booking cheap flights from Scott’s emails. There are also many deals to spots in Europe, so, fellow expats, you can forward emails to your friends every week to try and convince them to come visit or meet you somewhere. Like you do.
I have not yet booked one of these deals, but if I were US-based, I’m pretty sure I’d be all over it. It’s a valuable tool for discovering how much can be saved with savvy booking.
Thanks to Scott, I now know about Google Flights and this stuff is innnnnnnnnsane. It is so helpful and way way easier to use than Kayak or Priceline. Put in the area you’re traveling from and the area you’re traveling to and it will populate fare estimates for each day of the next few months. It’s great for getting a sense of fares to a particular destination during different times of the year.
Pro tip: You will get the actual fares available if you select the dates. These could be cheaper than what displays, since the fares do change based on your return date.
Sign Up for Emails
For those of you living abroad, you must sign up to get emails from EasyJet and Ryan Air ASAP. They email you with their latest deals. We’re talking like £20 roundtrip fares here. We’ve made a list of the places we’d like to try and go to and the time of year we want to visit, so when an email comes in we can jump on the good fares.
Both sites also have a “Cheap Flights” section that you can peruse for travel inspiration. Honestly, there are few things more exciting than booking a last minute getaway. Check out what Ryan Air has to offer here and what EasyJet has to offer here.
If you’re in the US, it’s worth signing up for emails for airlines you like. JetBlue sends out sales several times a year and they also do vacation packages. Good way to rack up those airline miles, too!
Embrace Hostel Accommodations
Is 29 too old to be staying in a hostel…? I say no, noo it’s not if you want to travel on the cheap. Since Andrew and I travel together, we often check to see if there are hostels in our destination with double rooms. Most often these rooms have two twin beds, so if you are traveling with a friend this is a great way to stay on the cheap, too.
Sure, the accommodations are often basic and barebones, but there are some really great hostels out there. We check the ratings and pictures on HostelWorld and always look for hostels that offer private bathrooms. It’s a great alternative when AirBnbs are booked up or too grungy for the price.
We’ve stayed in hostels with arched ceilings, balconies, even one that hosted happy hour and snacks each night. Sure there will be times you want luxury (no hostels on our honeymoon!), but for the times you’re only stopping through a destination briefly or will be out exploring more than in your room, a private room at a hostel can make a trip much more accessible and affordable.
Do you have any travel hacks or budget tips to share?? I’d love to hear them!!