This is a guest post by Beth McCrea of Myadventuresomesoul.com.
I’m a scuba diver who travels the world three times a year. My last three trips included the Philippines, Barbados, and Spain. How can I travel so often? I pay 25-75 percent less than most by knowing how to work the system. If you want to vacation more, it just takes some effort and knowing some travel secrets to save you money.
Make Research your After-hours Job
To save the big bucks, research what’s available well in advance. Many deals are offered directly so don’t just look at comparison sites. Sign up for newsletters from airlines as well as dream hotels and destinations. Join online travel/interest groups. Create flight price alerts (e.g., airfarewatchdog.com, skyscanner.com, etc.). Keep notes for comparison.
I’ve always wanted to go to Tahiti, but it’s expensive. A scuba diving Facebook group listed an Indiegogo campaign for deals on a Tahitian island. This leads to the second secret.
Choose the Best Time AND Place
Skip the popular destinations. Instead of Italy, go to Greece. Instead of the Virgin Islands, go to St. Martin. Choosing a slightly off the beaten path destination can save you scads of money on airfare and lodging. Then, travel to that place in the off season or find one that has no real off-season.
That Tahitian island I mentioned earlier piqued my interest when research showed that it was a part of the sunniest group of French Polynesian islands. While the official off-season is November through April, it rarely rains enough to be a problem aside from November, which means going there between December through April is much cheaper with little downside.
For more of travel budgeting tips, check out my Ultimate Guide of Money & Budget Travel Tips.
Cook Some of Your Meals
I looked for places where I could cook some of my own meals allowing me to then splurge on the others while still saving tons. It can be fun cooking in another country since the grocery store and foods are different. Choosing local brands and ingredients can also add up to deliciously big savings.
I was happy to see that my dream Tahitian island offered a variety of dining options including a shared kitchen where I could cook. Staying at a lodge with kitchen access or renting an apartment makes cooking easy. However, if you’re at a place with no kitchen, you can still make do. Many places offer a fridge so eating cereal with fruit for breakfast and making a sandwich for lunch is simple often saving you at least 50 percent per meal. No fridge? You can still visit the local market for breakfast on the go and something to take with you for lunch.
Take a Working Vacation
What if you can’t afford a trip? Joining a work exchange program means you pay only for your flight and anything fun you do since you work four hours a day in exchange for a day’s food and lodging. Some places are looking for specific skills like physical labor and cleaning, but some are open to whatever you offer. There are a number of official work exchange sites (e.g., helpx.net and workaway.info) and many places offer their own programs. If you don’t see one available, there are many other ways you can work while traveling.
Happily I discovered that the Tahitian island had an onsite program. I decided to offer them my computer skills working from home in advance of future lodging. They hadn’t considered these skills before or allowing someone to work virtually, but were thrilled by my offer. While working on vacation you will want to consider connecting to any insecure hotel or coffee shop WiFi using a secure VPN to ensure your personal information doesn’t get hacked.
Imagine Saving 25-75 Percent on a Vacation
So, you can see where I’ve been headed. I’ve always dreamed of Tahiti. I’m now going to a Tahitian island in the Kauehi Atoll called Blue Pearl Island and saving 73 percent because I:
- Did my research and kept my eyes out for unique ways to save which snagged me $50/night stays from the island’s Indiegogo campaign for the first week I’m there
- Chose a slightly off the beaten path location
- Scheduled my trip during the official “off-season”
- Participated in a work exchange program so the second week I won’t be paying for food or lodging
- Plan to cook many of my meals
Leverage these secrets and you can save BIG money on your next trip garnering 25-75% savings too.