I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to travel to 10 different countries in the past 5 years. People often ask how my husband and I can afford to go on vacation so much and to be honest, we can’t. We’ve just been very good at finding different ways to save money on flights and accommodations. Now, when I say “we” I really mean my husband. He should definitely get all of the credit as he’s the one that does all of the mind-numbing research, scouring deal websites and forums for information.The good news is, I’ve paid attention over the past couple of years and have learned a thing or two from his thrifty ways so take a look at the 5 tips I’ve used to become a world traveler…
Take advantage of a good ol’ Price Error or Last Minute deal
On Christmas Day 2014 my husband unwrapped the best present that Santa could give him (and me). Etihad Airways were offering flights from New York City to Abu Dhabi for less than $200 USD. This wasn’t a special promotional offer or marketing stunt to gain media attention – this was a major price error. To give you an idea of how big the error was, the cheapest price for a roundtrip flight for this trip is currently $1157 CAD.
Price errors like this don’t happen on a daily basis but they do occur every now and then so scanning websites like Secret Flying and forums like Flyer Talk are key to catching these great deals. The airlines usually find out about the mistake and will shut them down so in cases like this, you need to be ready to book as soon as you see the offer. You will also need to be open minded about your destination. You can’t expect to just sit around for a price error for Fiji to pop up. Many of the trips we have been on were on account of a price error or an amazing deal, and they were often to places that we never thought of travelling to (ex. Iceland and Belize). These trips ended up being some of my favorites so don’t be afraid to book a ticket to a destination you never thought of going to.
Reap the rewards of a travel card
A travel reward card is your best friend when it comes to living the jet set life . With some time and patience (and a couple of credit card swipes) you can earn enough to book a round trip flight to your dream destination. I recommend doing a bit of research to find out which card works best for your travel and spending needs. Consider interest rates, welcome points, and points earned per dollar spent. For example, the RBC Infinite Visa Avion offers 15,000 bonus RBC Rewards points upon sign up, the ability to choose any airline and flight (no blackouts or seat restrictions) and 25% more points on rental cars and hotels.
I know that some people are hesitant to sign up for a card because they think they may never earn enough points to book a trip but never say never. We just booked an international business class flight for this Fall with our Aeroplan points so it IS possible.
Look for Hotels that offer extras
Sometimes hotels will offer special promotions or deals if they are new and have just opened or if they are trying to lure in guests during their low season. We have been able to find hotels that offer a complimentary breakfast buffet every day that we have booked or a free night or two if you book a certain amount of days. Finding accommodations that provide these special extras can save you money in the long run and will allow you to spend it elsewhere.
Consider alternatives to a hotel
A great way to lower the cost of your trip is to book part or your entire stay at a hotel alternative. These days there are so many options to turn to- Airbnb, VRBO and Hostelworld are just a few. These sites offer so many accommodation options so you’re sure to find something that will fit your budget and needs.
Airbnb not only offers houses and apartments to book, they also offer unconventional but awesome options like airstreams, treehouses, sheep wagons and planes. Hostels also provide various room types – you can get a private room or rent a bed and share a room with others. Different sized rooms are available so you can choose to room with a smaller group or larger group depending on how much you want to spend and what you feel comfortable with.
Offset your costs by renting out your place
I know some people may be hesitant about renting out their own home to a complete stranger through Airbnb (I know I was) but it was a great experience and I would consider doing it again. Hosting other travelers is a great way to offset some of your own costs, especially if you are going away for more than a week. I was weary about it at first but felt more comfortable with the idea after staying at several Airbnb rentals myself. If you’re new to the idea, and aren’t sure where to start, Guesty is an Airbnb management service that has a step by step guide on how to list your home as a rental option.
Hopefully some of these tips will be of use to you when booking your next trip! Do you have any tips or tricks that you use when booking a vacation? Let me know in the comment section.