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Adventure is Out There: How to Travel Smart on a Budget

Posted by cfeehan on June 30, 2015

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Raise your hand if you ever daydream about getting up from your desk, driving to the airport, and taking off on the next flight to Rome; do the same if you’re impatiently counting down the days until your next planned vacation, or even simply reminiscing about past travels. Now look around – that’s a lot of hands in the air. The desire to travel – to wander, to explore, to experience the world – is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society of thrill-seekers and passion-followers. Thankfully, the internet is home to thousands of resources to help you travel cheaper and more conveniently. 

Flights

With so many flight search engines out there, it may be difficult to find the best one. Here’s our guide to some of the best and most reliable ones.

Quick Tip: Remember to never use just one flight search engine. Use multiple to find the best deal, and search 6-8 weeks before your flight to find the best price (or up to 3 months before if you’re travelling during peak season).

Skyscanner – This site compares flights, hotels, and car rentals from many popular sites to find the cheapest deals, then pass on the savings to you.

Cheapoair – This site frequently offers coupon codes, as well as automatically offers discounts upon checkout. And who doesn’t like discounts?

  • Canada: Get up to $30 off with code GLOBE30

Kayak – This website compares hundreds of travel sites at one time and in one location, much like Skyscanner. But as I said before, search your flight specifications on many search engines to get the best results!

Quick Tip: Be flexible on your flight dates. Flying out on the weekend could cost you hundreds of dollars more, because this is the most popular time to fly. If you can be flexible, you can save a lot of money!

Priceline – This website finds you deals on airfare, cruises, rental cars, hotels, and vacation packages. They even have a ‘Name Your Own Price’ feature that allows you to bid for the best price!

Places to stay

Once you’ve arrived at your destination of choice, you’ll of course need a place to stay. You could go the traditional route and stay in a hotel, but if you’d like to go off the beaten path and save a bit of money, you could try one of the options below.

AirBnb – This website offers over a million listings from people all around the world renting out their homes, villas, and even castles. You can refine your search based on price, amenities, property type, size, and more. Pay close attention to the cancellation policies and descriptions of each property, however, in order to find out whether the host will be home during your stay and whether your deposit is refundable in case you choose to cancel your reservation. And pay attention to the reviews from previous guests – they’ll tell you a lot about the property and the host!

VRBO – VRBO stands for “Vacation Rentals by Owner”, and it’s a lot like AirBnB. It may not be as aesthetically appealing, but it does the trick just the same!

Tripping – This site is the world’s largest search engine for rentals. Tripping.com compares properties from some of the world’s most popular travel sites, with prices ranging from $10-$10,000/night…so it’s safe to say, your options are endless!

Quick Tip: Always search travel plans, whether flights or accommodations, in incognito mode in your browser. Prices really do increase based on the cookies in your browser when you search the same thing over and over. When you search privately, this factor is eliminated. In Google Chrome or Safari, incognito mode is enabled by hitting Command (or Control if using a PC), Shift, “N”. For Firefox and Internet Explorer, hit Command (or Control if using a PC), Shift, “P”.

Less Expensive Lodging Options

Hostels.com – This website has a bunch of great deals on accommodations with no booking fees. Believe it or not, you can find hostels on here for only a few dollars!

Hostelworld – This convenient website that has a compiled list of hostels, hotels, and bed and breakfasts. This is one of the best sites to use for booking cheap rooms and lists hostels from all over the world. Its large online community leaves reviews and ranks each hostel based on security, location, value, staff, cleanliness, atmosphere, and facilities.

Couchsurfing – This site is the ultimate in cheap accommodations. I say this because it’s absolutely free! The hosts on this site happily rent out their couches, air mattresses, futons – whatever they have available – to budget travelers in the area for no cost.

Places to Stay, with a Twist…

If you’re looking to take a unique route, you can look into house-sitting for someone while they’re out of town. It’s a win-win – they get their house looked after, and you get accommodations in a foreign country for free! Some good sites for listings are:

Free City Tours

Aside from flights and accommodations, there are many other things you’re going to want to arrange while travelling. Like learning more about your destination, for example! You can learn a lot about the area’s history, culture, food, and more on tours – the fact that the ones below are free are just a huge bonus. They’re offered in a variety of countries on a variety of continents, so I hope you can find what you’re looking for.

Volunteering

One final, very unique way to cut costs while you travel, especially if you’re travelling alone or with a friend, is to volunteer while you explore. A lot of the time, the places you volunteer offer free accommodations, internet, and meals in exchange for your help. Examples of volunteer positions include hostel worker, English teacher, babysitter, farm worker, and even pet-sitter! Here’s a list of sites that list volunteer positions all over the world:

  • HelpX – Through this organization, you live with a host and work for them for 4 to 6 hours a day, then have the rest of the day to explore.
  • Idealist – Their easy-to-operate platform makes searching for volunteer opportunities fun – and they have over 13,000 of them, which means that you have a ton of great options.
  • WWOOFING – This site has been pretty popular lately among budget travelers. It’s virtually the same idea as HelpX, but volunteers are matched exclusively with organic farms where they work for 4 to 6 hours a day in exchange for meals and a place to stay.

So there you have it. If you’ve ever used “I don’t have enough money” as an excuse not to travel, your reasoning is no longer valid! There are so many ways to save money when travelling, and the online resources working in your favour are endless.

I wish you the happiest of travels, fellow explorers!

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.