It goes without saying…, everyone wants/needs to travel. People who need to travel either have to do it for business reasons such as flying/driving to a meeting in another city, province/state, or country, to look into another business venture or any other reason that you and your accountant can come up with in order for the trip to be considered a deduction for your taxes. Another reason for a need for travel can be something as pleasant as visiting friends and family for a number of reasons or it can be an unpleasant reason to visit friends or family members (it’s ok ‘cause you never really liked Aunt Kathy anyway). For the most part, people WANT to travel versus need, and who wouldn’t? There are adventures to be had, areas to explore, creating experiences and memories to last a lifetime, and also make new friends and experience new cultures. However, unless you’re a Hilton, travelling is one of those things we put into the deep recesses of our minds and conjure up when we need to escape reality, especially if it’s 40 below outside and that trip to Cuba doesn’t seem like a bad idea at the moment. And especially since spring has “sprung” , a lot of people are trying to cure their cabin fever from winter and enjoy the warm weather. But what about those who have little to no money, as those pesky bills from Visa, Mastercard and loan sharks do get to be quite annoying? Of course as any financial expert will tell you, if this is something you really want to do, you should save and budget, budget, BUDGET! With these tips, hopefully you can make those dreams of watching the sunset on the beach in Barbados a closer reality than you think.
10. PLAN AHEAD but be flexible!!!
It’s always a good idea to do research on where you want to go and what you want to see. Planning ahead can help curb some of those unexpected costs that a spur-the-moment trip can incur. Example: Lots of people want to go to Vegas or The Tropics when it’s December or January because it’s freakin’ cold anywhere around the 49th parallel. So, it’s always good to be flexible when picking dates of travel, and if you are booking a flight, try to plan up to six months in advance (although three is a good rule of thumb). There are also a lot of different websites such as Kayak and Cheapflights.ca that actually compare the flights from different companies so that you can get the best bang for your buck. And depending on where you are going, it’s sometimes better to go in the OFF season vs the peak travel season. Example: Through cheapflights.ca when booking flight and hotel together, you can either:
a) Go to London, UK from June 29-July 6 (Peak Travel Season) and spend all inclusive $1,865 (and stay at Hostel 639)
b) Go to London, UK from December 21-December 28 (Off Season) and spend all inclusive $1,262 (staying at the same place). By travelling in the off season, you saved over 600 bucks. That AND you still might get a white Christmas…, In London, England!
9. Don’t be afraid of domestic travel.
Chances are many of you are thinking of travel to lots of foreign places such as Thailand, England, Australia…, anywhere there is a Disneyland or World. However, there are also many of you who have thought of those places and haven’t even traveled your own country coast to coast yet. Not saying there is anything major and ground breakingly cool in Nebraska, BUT that being said, you won’t know until you go. Besides, if you just want a quick getaway for the long weekend, it can be more worthwhile to stay domestic versus travelling abroad, especially if you have a friend/relative that lives in another province/state. If you plan with them, you can not only crash at their place for FREE, but you can also get a visit in with them; two birds my friends. AND, there are sometimes awesome deals through companies that you already pay money to. For example, AMA has a travel section on their website where you can get some pretty decent deals on hotels; if you are a hotel person, you might as well put that card to some use besides when you get a flat on the side of the road.
8. Don’t be afraid of hostels.
The movie Hostel did NOT HELP with a lot of fears that people had/have about staying in hostels, but it can be a great way to save money when you are abroad. Example: Going through cheapflights.ca as they do hotels too, if you were to go to stay in London from June 29-July 6, you have options ranging from $235 (the Londenears Hostel) for the entire length of stay or $9084 (Claridge’s) for the same time frame. OBVIOUSLY, different levels of expectations and services BUT, even if you look at something such as the Olympic House Hotel, which is a 3-3.5 star hotel, it’s still $1206. If you book the hostel, you save $971 just by staying at a hostel. There are also websites out there such as Couchsurf, which is a website that connects travelers to locals who are willing to let people stay at their house FOR FREE (sometimes it’s not an actual couch you sleep on; sometimes it is), but it’s another way to save even 235 bucks.
7. It’s called a Work Visa; get one
Why not travel AND make money?!? Brilliant right?!? There are lots of businesses that need help during their peak travel season and as long as you are NOT picky about what you do, there are lots of opportunities to be able to travel and pay your bills. You could become a:
-English Teacher (teaching English as a Second Language)
-Farm worker (very popular “Down Under”)
-Diving instructor (some certification would be required…, obviously)
-Cruise ship worker
-Seasonal worker at ski resorts
Again, this is not the ground breaking, earth shattering career that you are studying or have studied for, but it gets you out and about AND it can pay your bills. Just make sure, like any job that you apply for, that you do your research on the company and what others have had for experiences with/through that company.
6. POINTS, POINTS, POINTS, POINTS, POINTS, POINTS!
I cannot stress that enough. Westjet has just launched their first European destination that they fly to which is Dublin, Ireland. Each company has their own point system (Westjet Rewards and Air Canada’s Aeroplan Miles, etc); if you collect enough points, you can get a free flight (or an EXTREME discount on one). Flying to and from Dublin, Ireland from Vancouver during the June 29-July 6 time-frame we mentioned earlier, can cost up to $1700 US (Westjet being the cheaper of the two). But in order to fulfill your quest of a free flight based on points, you must find out where and how to get said points and to maximize on them. Examples: Signing up for email newsletters from either company will tell you how to earn points. As well, both companies have credit cards in which you can get a bonus 20-30,000 points/rewards just for signing up for the card and making one purchase with it. That is a whole lot of gas that you did not need to buy now that you have those points.
5. Student Cards
SEE?!? Getting all that Student Loan debt was not entirely in vain (unless you got an arts degree…, then maybe)! For example, on the SPC card website, there is a section where you can find deals in your area, and you can pick Travel as a category. Choose the city you live in, and choose the store locator. Example: Flight Centre is offering up until July 31 of 2014, that you can save $150 on a Contiki Holiday package and up to $50 bucks off your airfare; with Comfort/Quality Inn hotels, you can save up to 20% on your hotel stay just by having the card. Conditions apply of course and for more info, you can talk to an agent at each company directly, but it’s an option for savings on a decent holiday, especially if you are still anti-hostel/sharing a bathroom with other people kinda person.
4. Be an alcoholic in your own home!
While travelling, everyone goes and tries the local cuisine through restaurants for an authentic experience. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to go out 3 times a day for every day you are on holiday. Example: If you are going through websites such as Couchsurfing, Airbnb, etc, people will let you cook your own food that you buy from the local market/grocery store. Some hotels, hostels, campsites, and guesthouses have a kitchen set up so that you can also cook food that you buy from the area. Think about it. The average meal in Vancouver, BC is about 15-25 bucks a plate, and that’s not a McDonald’s meal; that’s a sit down restaurant kinda deal. In Paris, France, about 15-20 Euros. Take a minute and do the math: a Euro is about 1.4 times the US dollar, so 15 Euros is almost 24 bucks US. For a meal or two, sure. If you stay for a week in Paris and eat out 3 times a day at a $24/meal average…, $504 for that week on food ALONE. Also, alcohol. In North America, you are paying about $5.50 for domestic beer. In Paris, France: 6 Euros. DO THE MATH: almost 10 bucks for a beer; 10x3x7= 210 bucks on beer, and that’s only IF you keep it to one pint per meal (and with most people on vacation…, this is not the case). Drinking once in a while when out and about on the town is necessary, of course. Just better make it the best damn beer you’ve ever had.
3. The bus?!?!
For all of you car lovers out there, yes it can suck to ride the bus, especially in a foreign country where God only knows where that stain on the seat you are sitting on came from. But, it has its advantages. Example: Taking the Tube vs taking a taxi in London, England. Yes, riding in those little taxi cabs is awesome and depending on your cabby can be a story all on its own. But, if you have the choice of either taking a taxi from point A to point B for 40 quid, OR get a 7 Day Tube pass for Zones 1-3 (which is most of everything that you need from London anyway, as it hits the major tourist spots) and do some walking for 36.80 quid. If you take a cab everywhere…, I don’t need to show you the math, it just gets expensive. Also, depending on where you are travelling, a lot of passes that are good for the underground are also good for above ground public transit, so bus can be included. Just make sure you read the fine print before you buy it to understand what you are paying for. There is also the walk everywhere option which is free, but if you are like most people and need to peg off six tourist attractions in one day…, take public transit.
2. Booking Tours in advance OR going on Walking Tours
A lot of people can go to their destination of choice and decide that it would be a much better experience if they had a tour guide tell them about the awesome sights and sounds versus champing it themselves by reading the encyclopedia on the area. However, you have to do your research when buying in the country you are visiting versus buying ahead. Also through travel agencies, you can also look into a Price Match guarantee. Essentially, if you book your tour/trip through the agency, and if the price changes through the agency before your trip, you can get a reimbursement back of the difference. It’s actually pretty cool. That being said, there are also a lot of countries that offer walking tours that are FREE, especially in bigger cities. Definitely worth the research, and you get the chance to tell people you went on holiday and LOST weight. HA!
1. Save the souvies for the end!
Everyone…, and I do mean EVERYONE ALWAYS BUYS SOUVENIRS no matter where they go. They buy things for friends, family, spouses and for themselves as buying stuff for yourself is awesome. However, instead of buying things spur-of-the-moment when on holiday, stop and think. There is always a place to get the souvenir cheaper than where you are looking right now. It’s generally a good idea to ask the locals where the best place to find cheap souvenirs from is (and NO, not the clerk at the shop where you are right now). Or, before you leave, even ask some of your friends/family/co-workers who have gone to those places as they will roughly remember where they got great deals, or check it out online. Websites like Tripadvisor are filled with other peoples’ experiences with when and where to buy your treasures on the cheap. And saying “Don’t buy any!” is NOT realistic for most people. Knowing how to use Google though and typing in “Where can I buy cheap souvenirs in *insert city and country here*” is very realistic, and easy enough to do when you are using the free wifi in the airport before you leave for your destination. Even if it is a Starbucks mug.