Updated: Dec 3, 2020
"Lies!! All lies!! There's no way you can book a trip from LAX to Thailand for under $1,000!" <--- is the common response I get once I tell people how much it cost me to fly to Thailand... and did I mention this was round trip?! Yes, for a round trip flight AND 1 week in a lavish resort, I spent under $1,000 (before taxes-- photo proof included) for my trip from Los Angeles, CA to Phuket, Thailand.... and here's how I did it:
So, how exactly did I do it? Well, for starters I booked my trip in February 2019, 7 months before I actually planned to travel. That of course saved me some money as opposed to waiting a month before booking. That's the first way to save when traveling. BOOK AHEAD! Waiting until the last minute to book anything will cost you extra just for the convenience fees. Pick a date that you want to travel, save some money and put a deposit to hold your trip at the rate you found it cheapest. If you can't leave a deposit, then continue to save and pay the entire amount when you see it at it's lowest. Remember, the longer you wait the higher the prices will creep. You can see something on Monday for $500 and by Friday it'll be $1,000. Book ahead and secure it fast!
Another way to save on traveling is to book a package deal... like a flight and hotel, or a hotel and a rental car. When you book altogether, you get a slight savings on one or the other. Sites like Expedia and Priceline are popular for bundle deals. They put everything in black and white right in front of you, and with several hotels, resorts, flights and destinations to choose from, these sites are a travelers best friend. But we all know that money talks and BS walks.... so don't "window shop" if you don't have the money to afford it. Chances are you'll see something you like and get discouraged because you don't have the funds to immediately pay for it.
Although I don't use travel agents to assist with my travels, they can help you save money as well... of course you have to pay them for it, but they'll save you the time when it comes to doing all the searching. The searching for deals is the most time consuming part (it's the part I enjoy the most though.) You can spend hours, even days or weeks looking for the perfect getaway and by the time you know it, a month or two has gone by and you haven't secured anything- and even worse, the prices have gone up since you last checked. It happens... but this is where paying a travel agent saves you time and in most cases, money. You'd pay someone to do your hair, change the brakes on your car, delivery your food to you, etc-- why not pay someone to book a trip for you? It helps...
1 other thing I found useful for saving money while booking trips is try choosing different airlines. Choose one airline to get you there and another one for getting you back. Chances are the prices will be slightly different, giving you a small savings somewhere along the way. Even a small savings can turn out to be a big savings in the long run. Also if you can help it, let the airline decide where you sit. Selecting a seat will cost you extra money and the goal is to travel for less. All the extra fees add up, especially when you're checking multiple bags in and trying to ride first class. Travel lite, travel loose. You'll save yourself some extra money doing it this way. But don't take my word for it... I only take 2-3 international trips a year because I've learned the tricks to saving money while traveling. Also, don't be afraid of flights with layovers, often times they'll save you money too... this is where traveling lite comes in handy. If you only travel with a backpack, there's no risk of your stuff being lost or stolen, or having to wait for it to go through baggage claims. It's on your back and ready to go when you are.
Saving money FOR traveling and saving money WHILE traveling are two different things.
--Saving for means the before the trip savings. Putting a small amount to the side each time you get paid and applying it towards your trip.
--Saving while traveling means spending less while you're on the trip. It's nothing like going on a trip with a little pocket change and coming home with some change still in your pocket! Be mindful of what you're spending while away. Airport food and drinks are overpriced and unnecessary. Airport souvenirs, clothes, etc-- all overpriced! Don't do it. Always wait until you're in the city and away from the airport. Again, don't pay for seats unless you're in a group and all want to sit together. Don't take extra bags because you'll be charged to check them in. Weigh your own luggage and make sure it's under the limit. Personally, I travel with just a backpack, my headphones and my passport. If all my stuff doesn't fit in my backpack, I find a way to pack less while still making sure I have all my necessities. But that's just me, you do you! Pack how you want, but be mindful that there are ways to pack lite and save some coins.
A final tip to traveling for less is to always, ALWAYS book a hotel/resort that offers breakfast and shuttle transportation. Why? Because it'll save you money while traveling. For 1) it saves you from having to go out and buy breakfast every morning... sure, the hotel will charge you for breakfast- but if you pay for it while booking the room, it's a one time fee as opposed to an everyday fee that you'll end up paying once you arrive, and 2) a hotel with a shuttle service to and from the airport saves you money on taxis and Ubers. Often times the shuttle service also includes free rides to local beaches, markets, shopping plazas, etc-- (just be sure to tip your driver) Remember, saving for and saving while. This is a "saving while" tip. Again, the little things add up.
It's a groove once you get into it. The more you travel, the more you'll start learning how and where to save money. These are just a few things that I do to travel more for less. No secrets here... I try to be as transparent as possible and urge people to travel by any means necessary. If I find a way that benefits me when I travel, I share it with my readers and followers. Each one, teach one has always been my motto. I don't believe that I'm doing anything special that the next person can't do, I just found a way to do it a little more often than the next person, that's all. Take my advice and let me know your stories about how you managed to save money while traveling! Help me, help you, help us!
Thanks for reading and feel free to share if you found this information useful.
xoxo- Ashawna Lane