Tips for Thrifty Travelers

Posted on Nov 20th, 2015 | Budgeting, Home life, Savings

Around 42% of Americans said they didn’t take any vacation days in 2014, according to a survey conducted by Skift.

Shouldn’t you be using those hard-earned days off to visit new places? Worried about having enough dough for your trip? Travel writer Joanna Kalafatis shares how to travel without blowing your budget.

What are some of the best ways to travel affordably?

Take advantage of the sharing economy. Websites like couchsurfing.com list free accommodations — as long as you don’t mind crashing on someone’s couch.

Apply for a travel credit card that lets you earn points and miles, which you can later use toward hotel stays and airfare. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Just remember not to spend more money than you can pay off on your credit card each month.)

Avoid staying or dining in tourist-oriented neighborhoods. The prices will likely be twice as expensive as surrounding neighborhoods. Check out restaurants and carts that have a good number of people seated or waiting in line. The locals will know which places are good. Local joints and street food carts can give you a much better taste of your destination’s food scene than a gourmet eatery.

What about holiday travel?

Holidays are tough because airlines and hotels [often] charge the highest prices of the year. You can find money-saving opportunities if you check out sites like airbnb.com or mindmyhouse.com. For airlines, make sure you book your ticket in advance — up to three months prior if possible.

How far in advance should you book flights?

Most travel agents recommend booking flights six to eight weeks in advance, but don’t book a flight the first time you search for it. I use websites like airfarewatchdog.com and yapta.com, which allow you to flag specific flight routes and receive email notifications if prices drop.

Are there better days to fly in and out of airports?

The best way to save money when flying is to just be flexible. Use sites like momondo.com, which compares airlines, lets you customize your preferences (time of day, number of stops on a flight) and shows average prices for your route on different days.

Is travel insurance worth the money?

Yes, especially if you are traveling outside the U.S. The more you travel, the higher the chances are that something unexpected will happen — from cancellations and delays to medical [emergencies].

Joanna Kalafatis has been working as a travel writer for three years. Her work has appeared on Matador Network, hipmunk.com and kissfromtheworld.com. She has collaborated with travel brands like Eurail and VizEat as well as hotels, and she occasionally works as a consultant for tourist companies. Visit losethemap.com, where Kalafatis shares her travel adventures on her personal blog.