Cheap travel? It’s a real thing.
A lot of people are under the impression that travel is expensive. Though that may have been the case 5 years ago, the travel world has changed significantly. Travel is more affordable than ever now.
Flying to Europe roundtrip for $300 is normal now (I refuse to pay any more than $500 round-trip, given the sheer amount of flight deals I see on the internet). A two-week trip to Asia for under $1000? Easy! You just need to know where and when to look for these deals.
I am always on the lookout for travel deals. Oftentimes, finding a steeply discounted flight or hotel deal will prompt my next trip, even if I hadn’t planned on taking a trip.
This could be you too! To help you out, here’s a complete list of my most useful budget travel planning resources. Hopefully, this streamlines your travel planning process immensely and saves you heaps of cash along the way.
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Where to Find the Best Flight Deals
Google Flights | Whenever I begin looking for flights, Google Flights is always Step #1. It’s the most user-friendly among all the airfare search sites. So much information is provided when you search, such as the best options for the cheapest, fastest or best overall flight options. It’ll also allow you to compare the flight prices between various airlines so you know you’re getting the best deal. If traveling domestically, also consider checking the Southwest website directly because Southwest flight prices are not pulled into Google Flights interface (yet they offer some really affordable flights).
Scott’s Cheap Flights | The best travel email subscription ever. Get notifications whenever there are mistake fares or extreme sales on flights, right to your inbox. Scott– whoever you are, I don’t know you, but what would I do without you…
The Flight Deal | My go-to flight sale site when I want to browse for places to go. They have an email subscription as well.
Secret Flying | I’ll check out this flight deal site every once in a while. Very similar to The Flight Deal. It’s awesome because it allows you to filter by departing city, destination, or both, as well as your travel timeframe.
I’m subscribed to all of their newsletters. Why? Their email notifications are not identical– they all post different flight deals, so by enrolling in all of them, I make sure I have access to all the deals that arise.
Priority Pass | Before heading to any airport, I’ll always check for the presence of airport lounges that I have access to through my Priority Pass membership. This membership buys you access to a ton of airport lounges around the world that offer meals, drinks (including alcohol), showers, comfy sofas, private wifi, and even $28 dining credit per person at participating restaurants. Must-have.
Where to Find the Best Hotel Deals
Booking.com | This is my go-to accommodation booking site. This site has free cancellation and no prepayment required on reservations which is huge. It also has amazing abilities to filter accommodation options by rating and price. Honestly, it’s shaved off so many hours of endless research for me and has made booking hotels and other accommodations a breeze. It even have apartments / vacation homes for rent on there now!
What I like to do to filter down options and expose the best value for money options:
- throw on a filter of Review Score: 9+
- then sort by Lowest Price First
- if no decent results that fit your budget, lower the Review Score to 8+
VRBO | VRBO is all about the local experience for me. I love how the houses are often in quieter neighborhoods away from the hoards of tourists. VRBO is also great for booking homes for larger group vacations. Who doesn’t want a full kitchen, living room, and backyard to lounge in? Often, you can find entire villas, homes, and condo rentals that fit anywhere from 2 to 16 people for the same price as hotel rooms.
Trusted Housesitters | Don’t spend a dime on lodging and accommodation while traveling. This is such a great way to exchange your service for a place to stay while traveling! If you don’t know what housesitting is, it is an exchange in which a person (you) stays at someone’s home and cares for their pets and property while they are away. Usually, no money is exchanged between parties.
Couchsurfing | The idea behind Couchsurfing is simple: “couchsurfers” leverage the hospitality of friendly people around the world who open their homes to travelers. There’s an extensive worldwide network of people on there that often just get together for social events (without the couch surfing part). It’s a great way to meet other like-minded travelers. I’ve only used Couchsurfing a handful of times, but I’ve had very good, totally non-creepy experiences. I’ve also met a lot of other female travelers who’ve had nothing but good things to say about their experiences as well.
Workaway | A great way to save money on lodging if you’re going to be traveling for over a few weeks. Workaway is an international hospitality service that allows members to contact one another to organize homestays and cultural exchange. “Workawayers” will work a few hours of their day in exchange for lodging and food, which is provided by their host. I didn’t get the chance to use Workaway, but I have a membership with them and the work opportunities/exchanges look legit.
Hippo Help | Another work exchange site, smaller and newer than Workaway.
Where To Find The Best Attractions
Viator | Whenever I’m looking for a formal day trip or tour, I use Viator. They have different tour company options and price points for the same trip, so you can choose what’s best for you. Enjoy savings of up to 50% off on worldwide tours, activities, and things to do!
Go City | Go City offers great value-for-the-money attraction passes in various destinations around the world (including Bangkok, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Chicago, San Francisco, Oahu, Paris and much more). These digital attraction passes provide free admission to popular museums and excursions within a city. With certain excursions, you’re even able to skip the line, saving you both money and time!
Whenever I want to play tourist in a city, I always check to see if Go City operates in that city. The money you can save with this pass (as opposed to buying admission tickets for various attractions separately) is unreal!
Culture Trip | Culture Trip provides me with tons of out-of-the-box ideas for things to do when I’m in a new destination. I’ll often use this to look up restaurants, things to do, and other local suggestions.
CityPass | CityPass is like Go City, except they specialize in North American destinations (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, etc). It’ll grant you admission to the most popular attractions in each city and are priced up to 50% less than the combined regular price of admissions.
Go City and CityPass are both definitely great money-saving passes if you are someone who loves major attractions and museums!
Where To Find Affordable Luggage Storage
LuggageHero | Simply put, this service relieves the burden of carrying heavy bags around by allowing you to leave them in verified safe places for as long as you need. The company works in a similar way to Airbnb, allowing travelers to leave their luggage with participating ‘hosts’ for just 1€ per hour and max 8€/day. They’re a trustworthy service with locations throughout US, Europe, and Canada.
Where To Find the Best Travel Insurance Deals
World Nomads | Travel insurance. I know there are a lot of insurance options out there, but in my opinion, World Nomads is the best travel insurance provider on the market. Their coverage is very comprehensive, making it a good choice if you are more adventurous and plan on partaking in thrill-seeking activities or plan on moving around with lots of electronics and expensive gear. Be safe, get travel insurance.
SafetyWing | SafetyWing is another travel insurance provider. This is a very solid budget-friendly option if you’re just looking for insurance coverage in case of an emergency abroad. Good for those looking for more basic coverage.
Travel Advisories | Wondering if your travel destination is safe at the moment? As one of your first steps in planning any trip abroad, check the Travel Advisories for your destination.
CDC Traveler’s Health | Make sure you have the right immunization shots and the right meds for your trip. The last thing you want is to contract some preventable disease and have your health suffer while traveling.
The Beginner’s Trifecta: Booking Sites To Start With
If you’re just looking to book a flight, hotel, or a tour but don’t know which search engine to use, check out my favorites below. There is no “best”, but these are the ones I actually use on a regular basis. These sites are extremely user-friendly, will save you cash, and will definitely make your travel planning a whole lot easier.
Google Flights | Why I love it: Google Flights is the most user-friendly among all the airfare search sites. Tip: I’d recommend making it a habit to use Google Flights as your step 1 and cross-checking prices and options with either Skyscanner or Momondo.
Booking.com | Why I love it: They have free cancellation which is huge for me (because plans change all the time). They have a powerful filtering system for results: search accommodation options by rating, price, distance from attractions, location score, etc. They even have apartments for rent on there now. This is hands down the best website for finding hotels no matter where you are in the world.
Viator | Why I love it: Whenever I’m looking for a formal day trip or tour, I use Viator. They have different tour company options and price points for the same trip, so you can choose what’s best for you.
With the use of these resources, you should be able to find the best travel deals in no time!
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