If you know me in person you’ll know I’m kind of a homebody. Sure, I love going to the occasional beach but otherwise traveling is not necessarily my “thing.” Instead I prefer to talk about downsizing your closet, or saving money on your wedding. One day I hope to enjoy it more (and have more money to do it, and NOT hate flying) but until then I still want to help you guys to learn how to save money traveling so I’ve brought in reinforcements. Enter Lauren Davidson who has not only traveled abroad, but lived abroad, and can bring you some tips on saving some serious dough when you do, too.
How to Save Money Traveling
It’s 2017 and Americans are on the move again. However, now they’re traveling smarter, finding more ways to drastically cut their travel costs without sacrificing quantity or quality. Here are a few ways today’s travelers are saving big while living large abroad.
Use the Sharing Economy
Through the sharing economy, where people provide the means for travel, the price of travel has come down substantially. With the power of the Internet, people are connecting with people to find places to stay, cheaper and more unique places to eat, and less expensive transportation.
The biggest story in the sharing economy for travel is probably Airbnb, a digital company that connects travelers with people who rent out their homes. The Airbnb website currently lists more than 2 million short term rentals in over 30,000 cities, towns and villages throughout the world. You can stay in family friendly accommodations at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. For getting around town, Uber is the digital app that connects travelers with drivers. You can also look at BlaBlaCar for opportunities to car pool with travelers as they drive across Europe.
Sharing sites such as EatWith and Colunching put you in touch with other traveling foodies who prefer the company of new friends while dining in unique settings. Meals are often hosted by fledgling chefs at their homes. Sites like Vayable and Guidedbyalocal are great for finding locals who can give you personal guided tours and unique experiences.
If cruising is more your style, you can save more than 50 percent on the cost of a cruise by finding a last-minute deal. Cruise lines don’t like to leave port with empty cabins. If you’re travel schedule is flexible, you could look at sites like expedia.com literally at the last minute to find sweet bargains. If you ask, the cruise operator will likely throw in some extra amenities, upgrades and cash vouchers to get you on board.
Be a Travel Contrarian
Travel contrarians avoid the crowds and save a boatload of money because they are willing to do the opposite of what most travelers do. While everyone else goes to France, you can head to Hungary or Poland for an equally great experience. Why do Italy when you can do Greece for a fraction of the cost. Even Mexico is getting expensive, so go to Guatemala and save.
Everyone travels to Europe during the summer. So, schedule your trip for the spring or fall and save about half on air fare. Speaking of air fares, you will save money by scheduling your travel from a weekday, like Thursday, to another weekday, like Monday. Avoid air travel on weekends and holidays when air fares at their highest.
Maximize Your Benefits with a Credit Card
Your travel rewards credit card is not just essential for saving money on your next trip abroad; it is also an essential mode of payment when you are on international soil. Once you are in are in another country, transactions are completed in foreign currency. Your credit card will automatically process the currency exchange so you don’t have to. Most cards charge an exchange fee of 1 to 3 percent. You can find credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card that waives the exchange fees, which can be another big savings.
A lot can go wrong on trips abroad, such as the possibility of having to cancel your trip, losing your luggage in transport, losing your credit card or a medical emergency. Using a credit card protects you against these contingencies. You need to read the fine print of your credit card’s benefits to see which protections are available and how they might apply on a cruise vacation.
If you are even thinking about going traveling abroad, you really should explore your options for a travel rewards credit card. Most credit card travel rewards programs have enhanced their rewards when you book your travel through their travel service. For instance, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn a 20% discount when you book through its Ultimate Rewards.
How do YOU like to save money traveling? Share your knowledge to help others out!
Lauren Davidson is a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. As she shifts into the “real world” she hopes to start a freelance writing side hustle to help pay down her student loan debt. You can see more of her work at LaurDavidson.com.