I get it, money is the biggest reason why people hold off on their vacations or even a dream of full-time travel. When we quit our jobs, people asked us how we can afford being on the road for a year. Lets just say that what we saved up for our trip is what we actually spent living in Toronto for a full year! Toronto is very expensive, crazy fact, it’s cheaper for us to travel than it is to buy a condo. Unfortunately we experienced travel burnout, but we did travel for 4 months straight! Very happy we got to get a taste of full-time travelling, but we know now that it’s definitely not for us. If you want to know how we saved for our long term travels, you can read it here.
I want to help and show you that there are many ways to travel for cheap, or even free! All you need is an open mind and the willingness to do a little extra work.
Get A Travel Credit Card
We have saved up so many points on our American Express Platinum Credit Card. We got a free rental car when we were back home and had to visit my parents for the last time before we left on our travels.We Had an Airbnb Nightmare on our first day in Auckland NZ, so we turned to our points and got a FREE hotel room for the night.
Explore what options your bank offers in terms of credit cards with travel rewards. We just signed up online and got the card in the mail a couple days later. This card annual fee is $700 CAD a year, however it saves you a ton of money in the long run.
Here are some perks that our card comes with. $200 travel credit for (fights, hotels, or transportation), travel med insurance for 2 weeks out of the country, platinum hotel memberships, bonus points when you sign up or when you spend a certain amount of money, emergency out of the country flights, trip cancelation insurance, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the PRIORITY PASS, what’s that you ask? Well it gives you access to most of the airport lounges, so you can comfortably wait to board your flight. This includes, FREE food, soft drinks, booze, including real champagne… Yup, isn’t that amazing!!! It doesn’t stop there, some lounges have nap rooms, showers, comfy chairs, peaceful, good views of the runway, free good wifi, and a place to get a massage. Some of the perks like massage, I believe you have to pay for. Every lounge is different, same with the foods. Airport food in general is so expensive, even small snacks to buy for the flight, it just adds up. At the lounges you can eat as much as you want and even put some snacks in your bag.
Just getting the Priority Pass membership alone for the both of us would be $1,136CAD! Based on all the perks of the AMEX, I highly recommend looking into this if you’re doing a lot of travelling. In the end you end up saving more money.
In addition to credit cards, you can score free flights by joining loyalty programs for airlines and hotels. A lot of people back home use Airmiles, my in-laws even went away to Quebec and it was all with those points! It all adds up.:)
Travel In The Off Season
You have to be flexible with your travel dates if you want to score good deals. Visiting a destination during their offseason means cheaper flights and accommodations, but more than that, it usually means fewer people! Yes, sometimes the weather might not be the best, depending where you want to go, but if it’s allowing you to save money and enjoy a vacation, you can’t say no!
Learn How To Book Cheap Flights
Never look at only one website before booking your flight! I always check multiple search engines. My favourite ones are SkyScanner and Hotwire. Skyscanner has a feature that allows you to choose “Everywhere” as the destination and “Cheapest month” as travel dates. If you don’t care where you go, you may find a really cool place to travel to that you didn’t consider before. 🙂
I also check out Monondo, Kayak, Kiwi, or just google cheap flights and a bunch of websites pop up.
Also, I open up these sites ‘Incognito”mode because search engines track our actions and jack up the prices once they know we’re thinking of buying a certain flight. If you ever see a deal online and end up waiting and look back at it again and the price is now higher, yup it’s tracking you (this happened to us with a trip to Mexico; we thought we would wait to get a better deal….but we never did. Life lesson, incognito mode is your friend).
Get Used To Taking Budget Airlines
Air Asia, Westjet and Delta have been a couple of airlines we have taken. It’s cheap, nothing special about the flights. However, it depends how much you’re traveling with. Flights are cheap, but they get you with baggage fees! Just travel light, or make sure you know how much extra the fees are.
Stay In Hostels
Hostels are cheaper than hotels, but what you may not know is that many hostels these days are much better than their historic reputation for housing dirty, messy, drunken backpackers. Hostels doesn’t work for us, since we would be paying for 2 beds, or a private room, and it equals to be the same price or cheaper if we do Airbnb. etc.
We haven’t done it yet, but still open to do it! Before you judge and think “what if they want to kill you” theory, just listen Linda! I know people who have done it, it is a safe space where you can find locals willing to welcome travellers. Hosts have their profiles with information such as their home, their hobbies, why they are on Couchsurfing, etc. Sometimes you even get a private room! Most of the time, people are just looking to make friends from around the world and give back to the community. You can also read through reviews! Couchsurfing has opened my eyes in humanity and shown me that even strangers can be kind to each other.
Do you like animals? Did you know you can travel for free by playing and taking care of other peoples animals? Every traveller knows the dilemma of having to find someone to take care of their dog, or even come and feed their cats while they travel. Trusted House Sitter links you up with hosts looking for a caretaker for their pets. In exchange, you can stay in their home while they are away. Isn’t that just amazing!?
Do WWOOFing and Work on a Farm
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It’s a platform that allows you to work on a farm in exchange for free room and board. It’s a great way to see a destination in-depth while allowing you to commune with the great outdoors. It will help you travel cheap, if you plan on staying somewhere for a period of time and a great way to meet people!
Cook Your Own Meals
Places where it’s expensive, get an Airbnb with a kitchen and cook! Just because you are travelling, it doesn’t mean you need to eat out every meal. Back home, people don’t eat out breakfast, lunch, and dinner… Also a great way to eat healthy and know exactly what you’re eating. 🙂
Find Discounted/Free Activities
Every destination has things to do for free. Places have free walking tours or just walk around alone enjoying the free nature and architecture. You can find tours on Freetours.com. For other activities, hunt for deals on Get Your Guide .
Visit Cheap Countries
South east Asia, is beyond cheap. If you’re on a budget, going to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia etc, will be beneficial to your bank account. Also so much to see!
Eat With The Locals
When you’re trying to save money, but also want to experience the food of this certain culture. Easy, go eat with the locals! Not only will you be eating their local cuisine dishes, but it will be much cheaper than eating right in front of the colosseum, or any touristy spot.
Nowadays there are plenty of things to do to make some extra cash on the road.
- Work at a hostel
- Work at a resort
- Online freelance work
- Teach English
- Fruit picking
- Affiliate marketing
The list goes on. If you really want to stay on the road longer, you have options!