Budget Travel Rules

Knowing where to find a good deal is only the first step to becoming a seasoned budget traveler. You’ll also have to change your mindset to make sure these good deals don’t pass you by.

Graffiti in Getsemani

1. Bookdatish – This is one of the best lessons I have learned from the online travel community I joined in 2015. When a flight deal comes along, book first and ask questions later. I applied this principle when a cheap fare came up for Colombia and was able to fly to the South American country for only $250. Rather than waiting to rally friends or ask for time off from your manager, simply book the flight. Most airlines will allow you to cancel your ticket within 24 hours of booking. Obviously your ability to be this spontaneous will depend on your line of work and other lifestyle factors like family and finances. But, if you know that you have the vacation days and no major events on the calendar, go for it!

You can be prepared for the next glitch fare by creating a group text with your favorite travel companions. That way you can quickly notify your squad the next time you see a great deal. If they’re not available, don’t sweat it! Solo travel can be just as awesome as traveling with friends. These steeply discounted fares often disappear within hours, so time is truly of the essence.

2. Be flexible – So you want to visit Bali on the summer solstice to take the perfect photo of the lush, green rice fields with golden rays of sunshine surrounding you.  You might get lucky and find a glitch fare to your dream destination. But, it’s more likely you’ll be stuck waiting for a deal to align with your ideal dates. That’s why it’s important to be flexible! Try adjusting your trip dates by a few days or consider a new destination altogether. Maybe your dream location hasn’t been on sale for a year, but a nearby country is. If the price is low enough, bookdatish!

Being flexible is a rule to keep in mind while on your trip as well. Your flight may be delayed or your hotel is not quite as close to the city center as you expected. Go with the flow and remind yourself that you’re on vacation. It’s up to you to make the most of it and enjoy yourself.

Amalfi Coast

3. Travel during low season – Dreaming of sipping limoncello along the Amalfi Coast during the summer? Or maybe you want to escape winter’s brutal weather and lay on the beach in the Caribbean. While these destinations are beautiful during these seasons, there are also tons of other people with the same idea. As such, prices on flights and accommodations can be drastically higher. Try booking your vacation just a few weeks before or after high season ends. You’ll save a lot of money and avoid hordes of tourists.

4. Ditch the hotel – I mentioned this in my previous blog post, but it bears repeating. If you’re on a budget, hotels can easily eat up the majority of your spending money. I highly recommend renting an apartment with Airbnb or staying in a hostel. Airbnb hosts offer insights into local hotspots, while hostels often have free breakfast and fun events like bar crawls. (N.b. If you sign up for Airbnb using my referral link, you’ll receive $40 off your first booking.)

5. Plan ahead – While spontaneity can have its rewards (see #1), it can veer towards unprepared if you’re not careful. After booking your flight be sure to check the U.S. State Department’s website for info on the country you’re visiting. They list out visa and vaccine requirements, which are essential to making it through immigration. Most countries also require your passport to be valid for six months after your vacation. Be sure to renew your passport well in advance of your trip if needed.

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