We are not wealthy. Comfortable definitely, but we don’t have an endless supply of resources that enable us to travel and yet, we’ve been able to do so much this year. Our friends often ask us if we’ve won the lottery or somehow come into some money. In this post I’m going to talk about some of the things that have enabled us to travel more. Here are six tips for traveling on a budget.
1) We put all our business expenses on a credit card (including our health insurance) and use it to get airline miles
My husband and I both do consulting, so we put all our business expenses on a credit card that gives us miles. Kind of a no-brainer but we’ve been able to take some great trips without paying for airfare, including our trip to Costa Rica. As long as you pay the card every month and avoid late fees – its a great way to travel. The only tough part with using miles is finding dates and flights that aren’t horrible times.
2) Take advantage of business travel by staying a few extra days
Not everyone gets to see new cities for work and for that I’m grateful that I have had some tremendous opportunities to see cities like Chicago, DC and London for business. One thing I’ve tried to do more this year is to add a few vacation days to the end or before a business trip to spend a little more time in the cities I go to for work. I used to dread work travel, and being away from the kids. Now, even if its just an afternoon to visit a museum, or squeezing in a walk in a park I try to always squeeze in some sightseeing into my business travels. Its really opened up a new world, and now I don’t dread my work trips anymore.
3) Prioritize experiences over things
Not falling into the consumerism trap is hard. I love new clothes, and home décor. This year, instead of buying Christmas and birthday gifts we bought our family annual passes to Disneyland California (see my post on Disney tips here). We have LOVED every minute of family time and don’t for a minute regret prioritizing experience over things. I still fall into the trap sometimes, but overall I’m much more excited about a new hike to try, or a road trip to try and schedule.
4) We do Home Exchanges
This year we signed up for a service to do Home Exchanging with people around the world. Some of the services people use are Love Home Swap, Home Exchange.com and Home Link. My husband was really nervous, but so far we have had the greatest people and families stay at our house. We were able to stay in a home with a beautiful view in Costa Rica and we’re going to Mexico in the spring. I have also reached out to several people who are interested in upcoming exchanges. I’m going to do a more in-depth post on this soon. If you’re interested in traveling, are on a budget and don’t mind having strangers stay in your house, home exchanging might be for you. It sounds scary, but I’ve found the home exchanging network of people to be incredibly lovely and we plan to keep exchanging indefinitely.
5) Find the deal
Budget travel takes some time and effort. If you really want to travel on a budget, its worth it to use sites like SkipLagged, Hotels Tonight and Scotts Cheap Flights. If you’re flexible on timing and location, its even better. My husband found an incredible deal on our anniversary trip to Cabo San Lucas last June by scouring sites and finding the best deal.
As someone who despises conflict, and asking people for things, negotiating is torture for me. My husband, however lives for the deal. He has negotiated hotel prices, AirBnB, car rentals, excursions and more. Through his skills I’ve learned that pretty much everything is up for negotiation. Recently we negotiated our AirBnB rental down 20$ dollars a night in Costa Rica because we reasoned, it was low season. They agreed and we saved $80 over the four nights. This paid for an amazing night out our last night in the country.
You don’t need to be a millionaire to travel. It takes time, some sacrifice and prioritization, but its worth it if you want to see the world!
What other tips do you have for traveling on a budget?