Traveling on a Budget

Anguilla June 2016

Okay so I've finally decided to start blogging again! And I'm dedicating my first post to traveling on a budget.  If you follow me on social media, then you know I travel a lot. Last year I was able to take a vacation every month of the year. It was amazing! And I am here to help you do the same thing. I think a lot of times when people have travel blogs they show you pictures of these amazing places and give you information about where to go and what to do while visiting but you can't help but to wonder... how in the world do they afford this?
I am an elementary school teacher in Washington DC. The salary is great there, but I'm not rich. I never thought in a million years that I would be able to take 12 to 13 trips in a 12 month period. Many of those being international trips. The first thing you need to do is pick a time frame for your vacation. You don't really even need to know where you want to go.

My Favorite Websites
My favorite websites to use are Google Flights and The Flight Deal.  Use the calendar on Google Flights to view prices months in advance and pick your vacation time. Then, use the explore world map to choose a destination. You can also track your flight and get email alerts when the price decreases or increases. In my experience, the best time to buy a plane ticket is either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Never buy a plane ticket on a Friday or weekend. The Flight Deal has daily flight deals from major airports to destinations all over the world. ITA Software  is also a great website for finding cheap fares from a calendar of lowest fares like Google Flights. If I can't seem to find a cheap flight on Google flights, then I would search Priceline or Expedia. I have found some cheap prices on Priceline.

Paying for Your Trip
I would recommend stalking those two websites to find really great prices. Most times you will find an international round trip ticket for less than a domestic round trip ticket. There is a website, Cheapair, that offers financing for airline tickets. So for example, you want to book a flight but you're not getting paid until the following week. You can use the website to book the flight and you start repayment a few days after your departure date. I have used this option once before to book a last-minute trip that wasn't in my budget but I really wanted to go. I paid off the balance about a week after I returned from my trip. It was fairly simple and easy. During the holidays, no matter what your destination...the prices will skyrocket. If you want to travel to a specific country or state make sure there aren't any seasonal events happening that may cause ticket prices to rise. If you are traveling to a destination specifically for a seasonal event be sure to buy your tickets months in advance. Or at least track your prices and check those prices daily, sometimes the price of a ticket might fluctuate by hundreds of dollars twice a day. Also, I would not recommend buying that extra insurance. Because if you miss a flight the airline will rebook you for free. Remember, sometimes it might be a little bit complicated if you purchase your plane ticket through a third-party like Expedia or Travelocity. So make sure you read all the fine print. I remember I missed a flight to Grenada from Trinidad and Travelocity would not refund my money. They  directed me to contact Liat Airlines, which was long distance in the Bahamas or somewhere, but when they answered they told me to contact Expedia. I got the run around so I just kinda gave up and therefore lost my $250. Another option for locking in a low fare is to buy your departure and return tickets seperately. If roundtrip ticket prices are $800 for example, and you don't have enough you can simply purchase a one way ticket instead. Then, when you have enough purchase your return ticket. This way you lock in your trip, because waiting until you have the full amount may cause the price to rise by hundreds. I remember tracking ticket prices to Barbados and the price went from $405 to $772 in a day! I almost had an anxiety attack. I also suggest signing up for a miles program like American Express Advantage or Delta SkyMiles. Even if it's your first trip. The more trips you take the more miles you rack up! And you can even buy extra miles or earn miles from hotel rentals or car rentals. And you could redeem these miles for free one-way or round-trip trips. There are also credit cards that award miles after a certain amount is spent on the card. Personally, I would not recommend a credit card unless you pay off the balance before interest is charged. 99% of the time I just use my debit card to pay for my trips.

Accomodations
When I travel I love to use air Airbnb. So if you don't have an account sign up now using this link and get $40 off!!  The great thing about Airbnb is that it's International. Any state or country you want to travel to has an Airbnb accommodation. You enter your destination, the time frame, and filter your amenities. You can even look at a map of your destination that shows the location of all of the rentals.  This is great if  you are not familiar with the country or state but have an idea of which area you want to stay in. You have the option to rent an apartment, a house, a room in someone's house, or share a room or a house with either the owner or other tenants. I've never rented a room, I always rent the entire place. I just think it's weird to stay in a place with a stranger. But if you want to save money and you're open to that then it might work for you. I prefer the Instant Book listings because you can book right away and don't have to wait on a response. Sometimes the host may take too long to reply or may decline your offer. Do not pay without getting approved first or speaking to the host. Because the host can decline your offer and then your money is tied up in a refund which could take a few days, depending on your bank. If you see a place that you're interested in and it's not an Instant Book listing, then contact the host and let them know that you're interested. The host can then pre-approve you. Once they pre-approve you then you confirm your booking.  When I don't use Airbnb I normally stay with friends or family. That is a great way to cut vacation cost. If you are on a strict budget I would suggest traveling to a place where you have family or friends that you can stay with. That way all you pay for is your plane ticket and other personal expenses. The great thing is that the more you travel the more people you meet and therefore the more friends you make! Other home rental websites similar to Airbnb are HomeAway and FlipKey.

Be Open
When traveling, especially internationally, leave your hangups behind. It's a different culture and people aren't as uptight as most Americans. Remember to enjoy yourself and don't take things too seriously. Put a welcoming smile on your face and be friendly. Be aware of your surroundings but remember to have fun!

I hope that this post has helped someone planning a trip or maybe inspired someone else to plan a trip. Travel as often as possible because if we were meant to stay in one place we would have roots instead of feet.

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