I’m a frugal diva. I'll admit it. I like nice things, but I refuse to pay full price for them. Travel is no exception. Whether it's flights, hotels, food, or spas, I can always find a way to enjoy luxury items for less.
Being a diva, in my case, doesn't mean that I'm spoiled and ungrateful; it just means that I desire some of the finer things in life - like a bed. I don't want to sleep on the ground because I fear I may never get up from it. And I opt for a nicer bed because I don't want to emerge as Quasimodo the following morning and scare small children.
Although my standards have gotten higher over time, my bank account has not. Fortunately, I've learned that chic can be cheap if you know how to look for it.
(Disclaimer: If you're looking for cheap private jets and personal yachts, this is not the post for you.)
The easiest way to save money is to travel off-season when flights and hotels are cheapest. Since everything is already heavily discounted, you won’t have to spend nearly as much time shopping around for the best deals.
Travel to More Affordable Destinations
Even if you find a cheap flight to Hawaii or London, you're still going to have a hefty food and accommodation bill. My advice is to travel to destinations where you can stretch your budget, like Thailand or Cuba. Flights may be a bit more expensive, but the overall cost of your trip will be significantly lower.
Check out some of the cheapest places to travel in the world here.
Book Hidden Hotels
A lot of people think that in order to travel on a budget, they need to stay in a hostel. That is not true. Often times, hidden hotels offers are cheaper than a private room in a hostel.
Sites like Priceline will offer up to 60% off on hidden hotel rooms. Key word being hidden. They won't reveal what hotel it is until book it and then your booking is non-refundable. Lucky for you, I can help you unveil those anonymous hotels before you book. Check it out here.
There are some sites that offer deep discounts on last minute hotel bookings, but I don't mess around with that unless I have to. Not having a place to stay gives me way too much anxiety. Plus you never know if you're actually going to get the best deal. You could potentially wait until the last moment and then end up paying twice as much. I'd rather just have everything sorted ahead of time.
(Airbnb also has some amazing rooms for less, but not all cities allow Airbnb rentals.)
Happy Hour Hop
All I really want to do when I travel is eat and drink all day, but if I did, I would be in massive debt (and 500 lbs). Thankfully, happy hours exist worldwide!!! Man, I live for happy hours. I wish I was joking. I love hopping around to a bunch of places so I can try a ton of new things.
Here's what you gotta do: Make a list of the restaurants and bars you want to go to, check their happy hour menu and times, then map out your crawl. Graze on appetizers here, grab a few cocktails there, eat a little more here, etc. etc. You'll get to try a range of wonderful food and drinks for half of the cost. Plus you won't be stuck in the same restaurant with a huge meal for 2 hours.
Even some of the nicest bars and restaurants offer discounts, however, they may have weekly specials instead of daily specials. Always check their website and go on their social media platforms. A lot of restaurants will only promote their deals on Facebook, so make sure you check both!
Groupons for Spas & Entertainment
Buy a SIM Card Overseas
Ten years ago, taking my phone abroad was a luxury, but now it's a necessity. I use it for directions, communications, translations, transportation, research, photos, and more. The problem is, international roaming is hella expensive. My service is through Verizon and they charge an additional $10/day for international data and phone usage. After my first outrageous bill, I did my research and found that I could pick up a 6 GB SIM card overseas for under $20. It's perfect. I have a different number, of course, but I have double the data for a fraction of the cost.
If you're constantly traveling out of the country and/or you want to keep your number while you're away, get a Project Fi account from Google. You'll only pay for what you use every month, and there are no international fees. Your phone will work anywhere in the world with no interruptions. (I'm probably going to switch over to this soon because it's amazing.)
Who doesn't want free money?! That is precisely why you should use credit cards and other reward programs to earn cash back.
Instead of using cash or debit cards, I use credit cards for all of my purchases, and then pay them all off at the end of the month. This allows me to rack up points and get cash back without paying interest fees. It may take some time, but eventually there will be enough points for a free flight. Points can also go toward a hotel, car rental, or activity, however, I've noticed that the best deals are usually on flights. I recently used the points on one of my cards to book two first class tickets from Madrid to Chicago. Best points I've ever spent.
Hot Tip: If you have a credit card for a specific airline, you’re more likely to get bumped to business class. Just make sure you use that particular credit card to book your flight.
If you plan on booking anything online, sign up for a free money back program like eBates. You'll get cash back on flights, hotels, car rentals, gear, clothes, and more. It’s easy and costs absolutely nothing. If you use my link, you'll get an extra $10 back. If you decide to sign up, do yourself a favor and get the extension for your browser. It will automatically let you know if you can earn cash back on whatever website you’re on.
Offer Up Your Seat
If you have the option of getting bumped from a flight, take it! Especially if it's a long haul flight. I once got $1,000 Delta dollars for waiting 2 hours for the next flight. So kick your feet up for a few hours and get yourself a free trip!