So you’re thinking about taking a trip across seas? International travel is incredibly rewarding—and incredibly expensive. Unless you’re blessed with a jet-setting career or unlimited resources, most people worry about how they can afford to go abroad and experience a cross-cultural adventure without breaking the bank. If that sounds like you, read on to learn how a few simple tips and tricks and can save you money on a vacation abroad—perhaps so much so, that you’ll be ready to start planning your next getaway once you return.
- Go in the Off-Season
Of course everyone wants to take advantage of sightseeing when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. Airline companies take advantage of this demand by upping the price of airfare during peak seasons—generally between May and August. If it’s within your realm, try to fly during the winter months instead. You’ll find flights at a significantly cheaper price, and the hotel rates at your token destination will likely be lower as well.
- Keep an Eye on Flights
Once you decide on your general timeframe, start monitoring flights. You can do this yourself, or rely on sites like SkyScanner that can do it for you. Either way, you’ll find that the price of a flight fluctuates, going up and down in price as the date grows nearer. Save yourself stress and sign up via email for price alerts online which can notify you of a drop in price and signal when it’s time to pull the trigger on a purchase.
- Be Flexible
Before pulling that trigger, though, see if you can be flexible with your travel dates. If you’re like most of the working world, you’re probably hoping to save a little PTO and travel on the weekend. Again, airlines take advantage of this demand and price flights of the same distance and duration significantly lower for mid-week departures and arrivals. Hop over to a website like Kayak which can analyze and predict when the best dates are for you to fly, based on a general time frame you provide.
The truly spontaneous can save the most money by placing themselves on a standby list. Just make sure your bag is packed and ready to go!
- Choose Alternative Lodging
When you’re traveling on a budget, you should forego expensive hotels and settle for alterative lodging which is more affordable. Share services in which people offer short-term leases or rent for cars and lodging—such as Zipcar and Airbnb—can save you some major money. You’ll find the cheapest accommodations, however, at hostels that offer dormitory style rooms for groups of travelers. Don’t let the horror stories fool you; most of these places are perfectly clean, plus they’re a great way to meet new people and make new friends from around the world.
- Embrace the Great Outdoors
If you’re the adventurous type, save money traveling by backpacking across your destination—it’s the best form of low-cost, independent travel. There are tons of backpackers who tramp through forests, sleep on tents in the beach, and hitchhike across the world. Not only is this form of travel incredibly rewarding and empowering, but it’s also the best way to truly take in and experience an unfamiliar destination.
Be sure to pack accordingly if you choose this form of travel. There’s always inherent dangers when travelling, but backpacking off the grid can leave you vulnerable to life-threatening situations. If you don’t want to stress out over which essential safety items to bring along, purchase a pre-packed bag, like the SEVENTY2 survival backpack, to give yourself some peace of mind.
- Find Reward Companies
Before you go out and begin buying any gear, luggage, or travel necessities, sign up for a rewards program which offers incentives for each purchase made. Banks like Chase offer credit cards that accumulate points to be redeemed on gift cards, air miles and many other promotions. If you don’t feel comfortable opening a credit card, find a website such as Ebates that offers cash back rewards by shopping at over 2,000 stores online.
This list skims the surface of the multifarious ways to save money while traveling. From getting advice from locals on the cheapest places to eat to finding lucrative deals on social media, there are tons of opportunities to cut costs for an overseas vacation. Satisfying your wanderlust might not be as impossible as it seems; start saving now and soon you can be on your way.