There are countless budget travel tips on the Internet, and all of them will save you a dollar here and there. It’s good to know most of them since they’ll help you at some point or another on your trip, but the tips I’m giving you here will surely save you a good amount of money if done right and if you do your research. Trust me, you’ll thank me later when you see how much money you’ve saved.
Rent a House or Apartment Instead of a Hotel
The sharing economy has taken over the travel industry, making hotels no longer the standard option for accommodation. Some studies indicate that you can save about 30% to 40% when booking an apartment or vacation home instead of a comparable hotel.
But, it is not just the price of accommodation that can be cheaper. Most rental properties have a kitchen available, giving you the option of saving even more money by cooking some of your meals at "home." Most of the times, these properties have an excellent location and offer more amenities than what a hotel can offer.
Additionally, if you’re staying for an extended period, you can often negotiate the price. Last but not least, rental properties also have the "plus" of taking you a step closer to experiencing the "local lifestyle" of your destination. You might have a host who can show you around or, at least, give you the local tips on where to eat, go, and what not to miss.
Look for Refunds when the Price Drops
Contrary to popular belief, most non-refundable flights are fully refundable within 24 hours of booking, as long as those tickets are booked more than seven days ahead of departure. This policy has been in effect in the US since 2011, yet not a lot of people know about it.
Once you buy your ticket, don’t stop looking for deals. The way airfares are priced is very dynamic, so it is possible prices might go down after you buy. Use this 24-hour booking window to find an even better deal (while having a secure seat) or to cancel it if you have buyer’s remorse.
This refund potential also applies to car rentals and hotels. In many cases, car rentals are fully refundable right up until a few days before the pickup, or even until the day you're scheduled to drive off the lot! Many hotels also give you a grace period that ends just a few days before check-in, or when stipulated on your booking confirmation.
Be Flexible. Consider Alternate Options
Flexibility is key when it comes to flying cheap. Most cities around the world have alternate airports that are served by low-cost airlines. In many cities, you can do a search based on the city name instead of the airport name, which will bring up results from all airports associated with that city. For example, New York City has the John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), La Guardia (LGA), and New Jersey’s Newark Airport (EWR). Instead of typing any of the airports, write New York City (NYC) and it will show results for all the airports there. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly to LGA or EWR instead of JFK, which is the main airport.
Keep in mind, though, that you should consider the distance of that airport from your destination, the time it takes to reach it, and the cost of transportation to get there. Calculate the cost of airfare and cost of overland transportation and time, and see which looks more appealing to you.
Equally, if you have some flexibility with time, consider checking your flights a few days before or after your ideal travel date. These alternate dates could save hundreds of dollars.
Follow the Spillover Theory and Follow the Locals
By default, touristy places are expensive. Restaurants, hotels, and cafes close to important or famous sights take advantage of their location to raise prices since they know many tourists won’t mind paying premium prices just to stay close to the "action."
Locals, on the other hand, avoid eating or spending money in such places since they know they are overpriced. What do they do instead? They walk a few blocks away from the touristy center to find more authentic and cheaper places to eat, have a drink, or simply spend some time.
Equally, when a hotel or restaurant gains fame thanks to a feature or review in a famous guide or publication, usually prices tend to go up due to demand. In this case, use the spillover theory. If demand is too high, the excess customers will spillover to nearby establishments, and such establishments will try to offer the same experience for a fraction of the price.
What other tips you think should be on this list?
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