Our guest poster shares how he manages to take half a dozen trips a year and maintain his savings rate of 50%+.
Today’s guest post is written by Brandon, a reader of the blog and an active but frugal traveler. In the past year he has taken half a dozen trips including Hawaii, Italy, England, and France, and he has managed to do so at a fraction of the usual price and maintain his 50%+ savings rate. He shares a few of his tips below.
See the world, they say! Get some new perspective and experience, they say!
Let’s face it, we could all definitely use a break now and then. For most of us, even though we might have an awesome plan for FI and life in general, the daily grind can still take its toll. So it’s nice to get away. Somewhere warm. Maybe exotic. Perhaps involving an adult beverage or two (or three).
But then we look up flights, hotels, restaurants, and tours. And the dreamy two week getaway adds up to more than a mortgage payment. What gives?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. In this case, you can have your cake and eat it too! You can go on some great trips without feeling like you’re cheating on FI.
Read on for a few tips.
Know when (not) to go
Once you’ve picked a destination, it’s time to start your research! But right from the get-go, here’s the first tip.
Know when you want to go. Or rather, know when you don’t want to go.
One of the simplest ways to cut down costs on travel is to research when the high season (or seasons) for your destination are.
For example, high season for Europe pretty much starts in early/mid June and ends come September. During this period, school is out but in addition to that, some countries give their workforce an entire month off (usually July or August). Two side effects are that travel in Europe will be more crowded but also depending on your destination, some sights may be closed due to holiday.
Bonus tip : Keep an eye out for when big festivals are as well, especially if you don’t have any interest in them.
Another easy way to save some cash on your dream trip is related to the first. Being flexible with your travel dates/times.
I know this doesn’t apply to everyone since situations differ but generally the greater flexibility you have in making your plans, the more potential savings you can net. A couple examples of what flexibility can offer:
- Last minute trip deals due to unbooked seats or unexpected vacancies
- Traveling mid-week to avoid the weekend price hikes
- Flying out of a different airport than usual
- Periodic flight sales to different groups of destinations
Plan your own Trip
It’s easier than it sounds, honest!
In the past, there were not as many resources available for us to be able to put together an itinerary. You either went to a travel agency if you wanted a planned trip or you traveled without any particular plan in mind.
Nowadays, that information is much more accessible, empowering us to put together our own trips from the comfort of our own homes. In addition to more traditional guide books from The Lonely Plant, Fodors, and Rick Steves, a huge online community has developed where information can be crowdsourced.
There’s probably a subreddit for any place you want to visit and blogs providing travel logs and advice/tips for all kinds of travel, like The Savvy Backpacker for those that enjoy traveling both on a budget and with a limited amount of stuff.
Flight Deals and Sales
Often, before you even set foot at your destination, you’re already out the majority of your vacation budget just from the transportation getting there.
Fortunately, sites like Expedia, Kayak, and Google Flights aggregate flight information so that you can find flights that match your comfort, budget, and timing preferences. Most sites also allow you to set up e-mail alerts for flights to specific destinations on specific dates!
My personal favorite is Scott’s Cheap Flights. These folks run an e-mail service where they research international flights and mail you deals that they think are great. They have a free subscription option but they offer a premium service where they’ll e-mail you even more deals. It’s $39 for an annual subscription and I’ve definitely already saved more than that just on two of the flights I’ve purchased this year.
Putting it all together
Here’s how I make this all work for my own travel.
For travel that I know I will be doing way in advance, I tend to set up flight alerts as soon as I know when I need to travel. This year I’m visiting Utah for a weekend in July and I had my alert set up back in November. This way, I get to see what prices are averaging out to be and can pounce as soon as a good price becomes available.
For most vacations and travel, however, I let the sales dictate when I go and where I go (hence the points on being flexible!). I watch the e-mails that Scott’s Cheap Flights sends over and if it’s a location that I’m interested in, I’ll try to fit something in based on my available vacation time.
Here are a few flights I picked up over the last few years from New England:
- December 2016 $360 (normally $500+) round trip flight to Barcelona on Swiss Airlines
- March 2017 $680 (normally $900+) round trip flight to Hawaii on United
- October 2017 $343 (normally $750+) round trip flight to Rome on Swiss Airlines
- December 2017 $363 (normally $450+) multi-city flight flying into London and out of Paris
Armed with some of these tips, I hope that you’ll feel more comfortable making the decision to go visit those destinations you’ve always wanted to.
Travel is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s easier than ever to get across the world and even better yet, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Do you have travel hacks and tips that work for you? Share in the comments below.