Everybody thinks that you have to have all of this extra money if you want to travel and I’m here to BUST THAT MYTH. You can totallyyyyy do awesome trips for cheap if you know what to do! Last month my husband Braxton and I went on an amazing 8 day trip to Europe. We spent a couple days in Paris, then flew to Rome and spent a few days there, and then we rented a car and drove down the coast of Italy, stopping for a day in Pompeii/Naples area. We saw all the major attractions of the cities, and also explored some “off the beaten path” areas, we took a bike tour around Rome, we visited the Louvre, we did all the things we wanted to do while in Europe. And guess what: we did it all for $2,000. (Including flights, lodging, and food). Wow right?? I’m about to spill all my travel secrets with you so keep scrolling if you want the deets.
1. Find Deals on Flights
This is the first, most important step to a cheap trip. You have to find the right flights. Our tickets alone to Paris could have cost us as much as our entire trip did if we weren’t careful. But because we were looking for good deals, we were able to find round trip tickets from SLC > Paris for under $300 each. (I’ll pause for a sec to let you pick your jaw up off the floor). Believe it or not, there are actually cheap tickets like this out there all the time, you just have to know where to look! The only thing is, usually they’re mistake fares and they only last for less than 24 hours. This means that you have to be ready and willing to purchase those tickets literally as soon as you see them. I’m not joking when I say that only two hours after Braxton and I bought these tickets we refreshed the page to see what the price was, and they had already tripled in price. So you have to act fast.
So the question is, how do you find those good deals?? I suggest subscribing to a few travel sites that will send you emails/alerts when cheap tickets are available. I use Pomelo Travel, partly because it’s owned by my awesome friend Chris, but mostly because it’s so easy and convenient and they always find the best deals (that’s actually how we found out about these tickets to Paris!). All of Pomelo’s emails are for flights that are under $500 for anywhere in the world, and lots of those deals are just way too good to pass up. You can sign up for their free subscription and get weekly emails from them, or for only $3/month you can get the premium subscription and get to see 75% MORE of those crazy deals. Click here to subscribe to that!
Another way to find cheap flights, especially if you have a specific place you’re trying to go, is by setting up google flight alerts! You search for the dates you want and the place you want to go and google will send you an email every time the price changes on the flight! It’s a great way to snag your tickets somewhere when they’re the cheapest!
2. Cheap Lodging!
Finding cheap places to stay, especially when traveling abroad is going to save you sooo much money. Rather than booking a hotel when we were in Europe, Braxton and I stayed in super cheap Airbnb’s and Hostels the entire week. That means instead of paying over $100 a night for a place to stay we were only paying $20-40 a night. I always use Airbnb’s when going out of the country and not only is it cheaper, but I actually also prefer it because I think it’s so fun to stay with the locals!
Some of the nights the houses we stayed at were super nice, other times they definitely weren’t anything wonderful, but at the end of the day we had a bed to sleep in and a safe place to keep our things and that’s really all that mattered to us. We’d much rather spend our money out doing things and making memories during the day than spending it all on a nicer place to sleep. So I guess it all depends on where you want to spend your money!
3. Public Transit Whenever Possible
When you’re in big cities like Rome or Paris, public transportation is definitely the way to go. Not only is it easier, but it will save you tons of money as well! When we were in Paris we bought the 24 hour metro passes that let us hop on ANY of the public transportation systems throughout the city as much as we wanted. We were able to easily hop on a bus, train, or metro line whenever we needed and it would take us exactly where we wanted to go. Those passes were only $7/person per day which meant only spending $14 a day for both of us to get wherever we wanted to go! So easy.
In Italy we rented a car for our entire stay, and although it was wonderful for when were on the coast and in the countryside, when we were in Rome it was a complete nightmare. Trying to find parking, driving in the chaotic traffic, finding out how to follow road signs, it was all just crazy. We ended up just taking public transportation while in Rome because driving was way too difficult. So in big cities for sure: take public transportation.
4. Be Smart With Eating Out
I know, I know. All the food looks so dang good and you want to eat it all. Believe me, I relate. But blowing money on eating out every single meal when traveling is the easiest way to go over your budget real quick. What Braxton and I do is stock up on snacks (cliff bars, trail mix, pop tarts, crackers, etc.) at the store before our trip and stuff as much food as we can into our suitcase. This way we have things to snack on throughout the day as we get hungry and don’t have to stop nearly as much for actual meals. For our trips we like to only eat out (have one nice meal) once a day. Which means if we want to have an awesome dinner in front of the Eiffel Tower one night we’re going to be living off of cliff bars and cheap gas stations food for breakfast and lunch that day. It’s a perfect system for us, and neither of us are very picky with meals so it’s an easy way to stay within our budget.
To give you an idea, we budgeted $50 per day ($25 each) for food during our trip. Which is basically enough to cover a dinner and maybe a pastry each day.
5. Decide Beforehand What Your Priorities Are
This one’s a big one. Before your trip, sit down and make a list of the top things you want to do/see during your vacation. For Braxton and me, it was easy to quickly see what things were going to be worth it to spend a little extra money on. We each had our list of the things that were most important for us, and those became our top priorities for the week. Anything else we were able to do along the way was just a nice bonus. We went into our trip prepared with the knowledge of exactly how much those “priority memories” were going to cost us. That made budgeting so much easier because after it had all been added up we were able to figure out what we had leftover for extra things. 🙂
So there you go! Those are my top five tips for traveling for cheap, and believe me if we can make vacations like this possible anyone can. It’s all about planning and establishing priorities! So now I better see you ALL going on killer trips in the next year, and I can’t wait to hear all about them! Happy adventuring. 🙂