When I first gave up my apartment to travel non-stop while working remotely, I worried that I'd spend a ton of money traveling. But I soon learned you can actually save money while traveling, because if you're smart about it, travel can cost less than rent. A week-long trip can be anywhere from a hundred dollars to thousands depending on where you go, how nice your accommodations and meals are, and — most importantly — how many money-saving tricks you know. Knowledge is power, and it's also money.
"If you’ve done your research, planned wisely, and set your mind on traveling, you will succeed and it will change your life," Hostelworld’s head of product and design and travel expert Breffni Horgan tells Bustle. "Everyone tells you that traveling will make you more confident, that you’ll find yourself, that you’ll be creatively inspired. That’s all true."
Nobody should have to miss out on the joys of travel just because of money. And nobody does have to. You don't need to stay in five-star hotels to have amazing, transformative experiences (and if you do want to stay in fancy hotels, you can get a better price than is on their website). Here are some ways to make your trips way less expensive but equally awesome.
1Book Last-Minute Rooms Through HotelTonight
If you need a hotel in less than a week, you can use the app HotelTonight to get amazing deals, consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch tells Bustle. You just enter the kind of hotel you want, and the app will find you one at up to 70 percent off. There's just one catch: You won't know exactly where you're staying until after you've booked it, or else they'd have to advertise the discounted price to the public. But at least you can specify how nice a place you want.
2Book Pre-Booked Rooms Through RoomerTravel
Or, if you want to book in advance, a great way to pay less than the hotel normally offers is to go to RoomerTravel.com, says Woroch. If people have a change of plan and can't stay in their hotel rooms, they post them there, and you can book it at a huge discount. A quick search through the site tells me a lot of the rooms are around half off.
3Eat At Restaurants With Deals
Expert tip: When you're Yelping restaurants, set the filter to include places with deals, says Woroch. That way, you can save money eating out while still getting the best possible taste of the place's culture.
4Buy Tickets Online
If you plan to go to a club, zoo, theme park, or anything else that requires tickets, you'll pay less by buying them online than you will once you get there — even if you're buying them from your phone on the way there, says Woroch.
5Search In Incognito Mode
If you search for hotels or flights to one particular destination a lot, advertisers' algorithms will pick up on how interested you are and up the prices, Jennifer McDermott, Consumer Advocate at finder.com, tells Bustle. To avoid this trap, always search in incognito mode.
6Book Flights On Tuesdays
"Most people book their travel later in the week, so airlines tend to release deals Monday evenings to even out their lull," McDermott says. "Once one airline releases a great deal, competitors tend to race to match it, and so the best fares are often all out on a Tuesday afternoon." That said, the best deal may require a zillion transfers, so just go with the best deal that won't drive you up the wall.
There's something to be said for going to Ibiza in the summer or Vermont in the winter, but the upside to traveling off-season is that it's much cheaper, says McDermott. Plus, you might discover lesser-known attractions and get to know the locals when there aren't so many tourists around.
8Ask An Airbnb Host For A Discount
Aside from being cheaper in general, the cool thing about Airbnb is that the prices are more negotiable than hotels. If you're staying for a long time, the host will often offer the room to you for a lower price. And if it's last-minute, they'll likely give you a discount because they just want to rent out the place, travel writer Angela Karl tells Bustle.
9Use A Travel Agency
It may seem old-fashioned, but travel agencies offer package deals on flights and hotels that are often much cheaper than you'd get by paying for them separately. Plus, they'll do the planning for you and have great recommendations, since they do this every day.
10Get Free Stays By Volunteering
The site Workaway lets you find free places to stay in exchange for helping out there, Jennifer Kanikula, writer for The SoFull Traveler, tells Bustle. You can stay with a family in Bogota by helping out on their farm, stay at a Costa Rica hostel for free by volunteering there, and stay in the desert in Israel while caring for the horses. Of course, this wouldn't be ideal if you want lots of time to yourself to work or explore the city, but it would be a great way to meet new people.
Kelly Hayes-Raitt, author of How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva, uses TrustedHousesitters.com, HouseSitMatch.com, Nomador.com, and HouseSitMexico.com to get housesitting and petsitting assignments. To make sure she's comfortable with each situation, she reads through home owners' profiles, gets a Skype tour of the house, and gets a signed agreement. "I save on accommodations, plus I avoid all those pesky fees hotels tack on for movies, internet, parking, etc.," she tells Bustle. "And I have my own kitchen to make breakfasts and other meals."
With all the tricks out there, money never has to get in the way of your travel dreams, and those dreams are worth pursuing.