Friday, January 1, 2016

5 Tips Toward More Affordable Travel

View on our way Costa Rica
I've been asked a lot recently how I am able to afford this crazy hectic travel year that I have planned for 2016. When people find out that I'm traveling with my three kids the questions really begin rolling in. I usually have a difficult time answering these probing questions about my finances directly when being put on the spot, at least not without being rude. I mean my money is nobody's business right? But as I think about it I can certainly see how and why that question comes up so often. A part of the reason I am writing this blog and building this brand is to have a platform to inspire others to travel and explore the world. I decided people are NOT being rude (intentionally) by asking how I make it happen, they are simply curious. Perhaps they are trying to see if they can make it work in their own life, so instead of being offended I decided it would be best to simply answer the question. I sat down and thought about how I can afford our travel and if in fact there are some "rules" that I follow to help keep our travel costs down. I figured a blog post is the best place to answer this question so that others considering doing the same thing can be inspired and those who are already pros at it can chime in. 

So here's what works for me in keeping my costs down and making travel more affordable for me and my family. Before you read on, remember this isn't written in stone anywhere but these five things have worked well for us far.

#1 Be flexible with location. Travel deals pop up all over the Internet daily... No, hourly. Facebook, Twitter, and sky scanner, fare alerts, and others are constantly alerting us to the latest deals. The catch to these deals is that they can be to anywhere so be flexible and willing to explore new places. When the deals pop up just jump on it regardless of where it is. That's actually the exciting part of this lifestyle... Not knowing where our next trip will be until I book it. This flexibility can mean a savings of anywhere from $500 to over $1000 per traveler. Be flexible!

#2 Be creative with accommodations. As much as we would all love to stay in the five star luxury hotel in the center of city that type of traveling would quickly break the bank. There are many alternatives to this that include sleeping on someone's couch for the night with couch surfing (yes, that's a real thing), renting out someone's home through sites like Airbnb, or even going the hostel route. The kids and I will be experiencing our first hostel for part of our stay when we visit Iceland in April and then again for part of our trip to Italy in June. We are very excited about this. It will be a chance to try something new all while meeting new people from around the world. In our upcoming travels we are booked at a couple of bed n' breakfasts, some Airbnb, and of course some campgrounds in our upcoming cross country road trip. Being creative with accommodations can be a big money saver. Heck, the money saved in accommodations can be the money used to by your next plane ticket when that deal alert pops up on your phone. 

# 3 Get fully equipped accommodations. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip but if at all possible book a place to stay that has a full kitchen. In this regard Airbnb's are great options as you usually get full access to the kitchen. Even if you can't get accommodations with kitchen access, accommodations with at least a mini fridge and microwave can help tremendously. This can save a bundle in food expenses. Those left overs will come in handy for luck the next day or that microwaved oatmeal can save a lot of money over the course of the week. This is especially important to me as I travel with my children. Feeding myself can be expensive enough but adding three additional little mouths can break the bank.

#4 Go local. When in Rome do as… well you know the rest. That rule applies to travel as well. Don’t let the flashing lights and glitz and glamour of the fancy tourist spots distract you. The little hole in the wall, off the beaten path places can offer some truly amazing experiences. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning where the locals go to eat and hang out, what activities the locals enjoy and participate in, visiting the spots that the locals deem important not only enriches your life through these cultural experiences but can also keep your money in your wallet.

#5 Pack light and don’t be picky. You read that right. The less you travel with the cheaper it will be. At $25 per checked bag per person being #teamcarryon can actually save you some money. It might not seem like a lot but consider this. There are four of us in our family and we are scheduled to be on a plane 10 times between now  and June. 10 flights times for people times $25 per checked bag is $1000 saved. That’s enough for another international trip right there. In addition to not checking a bag, don’t be picky about where you sit. Yes, airlines are now charging extra fees to choose your seat in advance. We have been lucky so far with not paying to choose seats in that we have gotten to sit together on every flight so far (with the exception of one flight were my three were on a row together and I had to sit two rows behind them). Being flexible saves money when traveling.

There are many other ways you can save money in travel. For those that have done it I would love to know what has worked for you? With three JrNomad mouthes to feed, every tip counts. 

Until I hear from you or see you somewhere around the globe... Peace, Love, and Traveling Grace.

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