There's no denying travel is an enriching experience. The problem for many, however, is money. Before you've even left home you need to book flights, hotels and tours that can quickly burn a hole in your pocket - or not, if you're equipped with essential advice. Remember the following five tips to make your next trip a budget-friendly one.
Rooftop pools and spa days don't have to be synonymous with spending a fortune. In fact, in certain destinations these types of experiences can be downright cheap. Make a list of your dream destinations and, for any that aren't easy on your wallet, swap them for a similar budget-friendly alternative. Love islands but French Polynesia breaks the bank? Honduras has three idyllic islands (the Bay Islands) away from the mainland. Craving the beaches of Brazil? Hit the continent's west coast to visit budget beach locales like Mancora, Peru and Tayrona National Park in Colombia. For an inexpensive spa escape, Vilcabamba in Ecuador is full of spas and meditation centers and is known for having a population where people live to be over 100, thanks to the area's mineral-rich water.
Maybe you've got your heart set on a five-star hotel, or maybe you're a traveler focused on food. Narrow down a budget and then allocate funds in a way that makes sense to you, putting larger sums into trip aspects you value most. If you're okay skipping sit down restaurants if it means you can do a helicopter tour, or CouchSurfing to save money for a private guide, then so be it.
There's no reason not to join your favorite hotel brand’s or airline's free loyalty program, as you'll literally earn points and miles for free travel - among other perks like mini bar credits, lounge access and dining discounts - without spending a single cent more than you already would be.
If you have room for flexibility, fare calendars like Fly.com's and Google Flight's show you the exact days that are cheapest to fly. Using these calendars has saved me hundreds of dollars on single trips, as the difference between flying one day verses the next can differ drastically. I typically use fare calendars to research then book directly with the airlines to avoid losing out on earning miles and points (though Google Flights lets you book direct with the airline from their site). Google Flights also had a handy map that shows you the prices to fly to other cities around the one you're looking up.
For those who have a decent following on social media, there are a number of hotels that reward such behavior, like the 1888 Hotel in Sydney that offers a free stay to Instagrammers with over 10,000 followers, or Kimpton which gives social media sharing guests extra Kimpton Karma points. If your hotel doesn't have a dedicated influencer program you can reach out and pitch the idea to them.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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