I’m in the midst of an eight-week travel extravaganza. While it hasn’t exactly been easy on my wallet, it also hasn’t been devastating for my finances. Here are some of the things I’ve done in the last year (and will probably do moving forward) to ensure that affordable travel remains a staple in my life:
1. Create a Travel Fund
I began setting aside money automatically each month in a travel fund a little more than a year ago. This fund is designed to help me save up money for travel. You can set up your own fund as well. I use a taxable investment account, but I know people who are more comfortable with a traditional savings account. When you are in a constant state of saving up for travel, it becomes more affordable for you.
2. Look for Deals
Naturally, one of the best ways to enjoy affordable travel is to look for deals. I’ve found two-for-one deals and other discounts. Whether you use daily deal sites, look for promo codes, or book vacation packages, there are plenty of ways for you to save money on your travels when you look for good deals. This also includes being alert for airfare deals and other deals. This works especially well with a travel fund. If you have a pool of money to draw on, you are more likely to be able to take advantage when there’s an amazing airfare deal to another country.
Some attractions have different costs for different days. Additionally, there are programs like Bank of America’s museum deal where you can go to select museums for free once a month. Check to see if you can get a family package or some other deal, based on the day you go.
3. Split the Cost
You can split the cost of your travel in some cases. As part of my recent trip to New York, I split the cost with my ex. We had a nice mini-trip in the middle of our overall travels. It takes some of the pressure off if you can share the cost of your travels. Find someone to share the cost of lodging and activities and you’ll save.
Another way to “split” the cost is to incorporate work into your trip. In some of the places I visited, I did work-related activities and met with clients, so I can deduct some of those costs on my taxes. It’s not a straight split, but it’s one way to save money.
4. Use Loyalty Points and Credit Card Rewards
Don’t forget about using your loyalty points and credit card rewards. I redeemed points for a couple nights in New York this trip. Most of my airfare for this trip was also covered because I used airline miles. Plan your trips so that you are either earning loyalty points or redeeming them. I also like stacking. I usually book my travel through a portal like Swagbucks that offers rebates so that I get a little extra back in the end.
5. Take Advantage of the Sharing Economy
I used Airbnb for the first time this trip. I was able to get three or four nights for the same cost as staying one night in a hotel. The savings were amazing — and splitting the cost would make the savings even more amazing. I compared the cost of a taxi versus a ride share in Philadelphia, and found that the rideshare was half as much. Look for ways to take advantage of the sharing economy when you travel, and you might be surprised at how affordable things can be.
How do you engage in affordable travel?