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As the world starts opening up many of us are planning to start traveling again. And some of those who haven’t traveled much before have decided to start. Over the last year or so many of us have realized that life is short and maybe we should see a little more of the pretty amazing planet we live on. The good news is that no matter where you want to travel, there are a few ways to make sure you do it in the most cost-efficient way possible.
1. Know your travel style
This will determine whether it’s better value for you to travel independently or buy a vacation package. Independent travel generally works out cheaper if you like to live like the locals, eat and shop in non-touristy places, and stay at AirBnBs, hostels, campsites, or cheaper hotels. If you like to stay at a fancy hotel and eat and drink your way through your vaycay while lazing by a pool, an all-inclusive package may be a better value.
2. Shop around
You don’t have to do this manually. Use comparison sites like Expedia, Booking.com, and Kayak. Sign up for alerts for the destinations you’re interested in. Shop around for travel insurance as well. Prices can vary by a lot. Don’t forget to check whether you already have travel insurance (sometimes it comes bundled with other insurance or financial products) and that you’re not over-insured, given the type of traveling you’ll be doing.
3. Check out discount sites
Sites like Groupon and Living Social can have some excellent deals, but they’re not always the best option. Sometimes the comparison sites will bring up even better deals direct from the hotels or airlines themselves. So use the two types of sites in tandem to make sure you’re getting your trip for the very best price available.
4. Get the timing right
According to a study by Opodo, flights are usually cheapest around 31 to 43 days before departure. If you have a lot of flexibility, flights can also be a great value on or very near the day of departure, especially if you fly on standby. Use LastMinute.com or Unsold.com to find short-notice bargains.
Planning a long way ahead costs you. But leaving things to the last minute doesn’t always result in a bargain. It’s never advisable to look for last-minute flights if it’s absolutely vital you get to your destination on a set day. You could well end up paying a premium (or not getting there at all).
5. Be flexible
The cheapest vacations come to those who don’t care where (or when) they go. If you just want an adventure and are flexible on where you actually go, you’re bound to find a last-minute bargain. Skyscanner lets you search for the cheapest flights from your local airport in price order. Perfect for the true adventurer. You’ll also find that everything from flights to accommodations to bar prices is lower off-season, so if you’re flexible on what time of year you travel, you can save quite a slice of travel money that way too.
6. Travel slow
If you have more time, you can often save more money, as many retirees and digital nomads have discovered. Not having to reach your destination (or return) on a set date gives you a few ways to travel cheaper. If you’re staying within your own continent you might want to consider driving rather than flying, or even taking the train. But even if you’re going overseas, if you have more time to get there, there are usually more options. Flights with one or more stopovers may be cheaper than direct. Love cruising? Look into a repositioning cruise.
7. Use rewards points
Many credit cards offer air miles or loyalty points that can be exchanged for hotel rooms and other travel perks. If you manage to get collecting miles or points down to a fine art it’s known as travel hacking. Experienced travel hackers fly for free at least some of the time, and certainly less than the rest of us. They also get free upgrades to first-class and other travel perks.
If you’ve not been able to travel as much as you’d like in recent months now’s the time to start planning for the future. And with travel, as with many other things, planning is the key to getting great value for money.
About the Author
I’m a freelance writer specializing in online business, personal finance, travel and lifestyle. I also work as a content creator for hire, helping brands and businesses tell their stories, grow their audiences, and reach their ideal customers. I’ve lived, worked and studied in six countries, across three continents. Stop by my blog TheSavvySolopreneur.net to learn how to run your own (very) small business on your own terms. You can also connect with me at my website KarenBanes.com or follow me on Medium.com.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.