The Ground Rules

The motto I stick to for travel is one that pays homage to the birds that fly around the world, much as I would like to: cheap cheap!

Travel for me has always been about the experience; I would rather stay in a dirt cheap hostel and spend my day walking around with the most spending money possible in my pocket, than spend my nights in an expensive hotel that deters my ability to experience where I’m visiting. That being said, I am a student; meaning that this is basically mandatory anyway.

My point is, if you’re looking for advice on how to be your most luxurious self – this is not the blog for you. However, if you would like to travel on a limited budget and get the very most out of your trip – stick around, you just might find something that changes your trip for the better.

In this post, I’m going to outline for you the methods I use for cheap travel.

Firstly, you have to decide where you’re going. Personally, my list of places to see is basically… everywhere. Therefore, my favourite methods to choosing a destination is such: find out how to be notified of cheap airfare.

For me, these are the essential tools (and bear with my bias towards helpful apps – I  am a millennial, after all )

1. Hopper

Hopper is an app that, much like many others, takes the searching out of finding travel deals for you. Enter a starting point, an end point, and a date, and if does the work of sifting through airlines for you. Now, you’re probably thinking: What’s the difference between that and Expedia?

Here is the essential difference for me: because I travel based around when is the cheapest, the most annoying element of finding flights on websites such as Expedia for me is entering and re-entering (and re-entering, and re-entering) dates upon dates, to see the price difference.

And when I found Hopper, I rejoiced!

Hopper will give you a colour-coded calender view of the best and worst times to travel to any place you’re interested in.

Another essential features is the Flex feature. If you’re not looking for a specific date range, you can just enter a destination (or region, such as… anywhere. It’s ridiculously expansive) and Hopper will give you prices for many months to come.

One that also works for me is the suggestions they give you – if you are watching an area for price updates, Hopper will give you suggestions on places that you may also be interested in when flight tickets are on sale!

Lastly, the analytical team at Hopper will give you advice on ticket prices. Buying a ticket can always be a gamble – prices can go up and down literally whenever. But Hopper will give you the best advice it can on whether you should buy, or wait.

And the analytical bunny that gives you the advice is really, really cute. 🐰

2. Kayak

This is another app with similar features to Expedia. However, it offers one essential feature that makes my searching experience all that much better:

Explore.

This feature lets you customize an array of travel preferences (for me, this is usually my flight budget) and shows you everywhere around the world that you can travel.

As a traveler with places to go (as in, literally everywhere), this feature makes all the difference for me.

3. AirBNB

You probably already know this one. But I can’t stress this enough: Accommodation does not need to be expensive!

In my experience, AirBNB has been great! Apart from the fact that you’re usually staying in someone’s home (often times, they’re also there) it really doesn’t feel all that different from being in a hotel – but with really, really great prices.

4. YYZ Deals

This is is for flights leaving Toronto and nearby areas – however, there are websites just like it for most areas! YYZ will give you updates on places that have recently had their airline ticket prices drastically reduced. In my experience, it’s often been the reason I’ve booked a ticket somewhere I’ve loved.

And that’s it! Well, that’s it when it comes to flights.  Money saving tips for travel are virtually never ending. Here are my top tips:

  • Learn some of the language
    • No matter where you go, if you learn some of the native language, you make it easier for yourself to access places that are not directed fully at tourists. And these places are usually cheaper. Much cheaper.
    • I like to use Duolingo for this – the lessons are easy, and often geared towards travelling anyway!
  • Get off the beaten path!
    • As mentioned above, tourist targeted places are going to be money gouging. Instead of the restaurant where you see all the tourists sitting, visit the family restaurant where the locals are. If you’re in it for authenticity (and not to mention better prices…) this is where you’ll find it.
    • Do it yourself!
      •  Maybe you like guided tours – and that’s fine! But if you’re like me, you like to set your own pace and explore on your own. So instead of booking a pricey tour, do some research on where you’re going, get prepared, and do it on your own! You will save money, and also get the proud-of-yourself sensation of accomplishing it on your own.
      • Let’s be clear here: I am not advocating going into something blind and doing it on your own; I have taken tours before, but that was all about spontaneity. Research is essential, to get a full experience and to be safe! And that brings me to my last point….
  •  Do your research!
    • And this applies to everything. I can’t tell you whether taking the train, bus, or renting a car will be the cheapest for you; everywhere is different.  The best advice I can give you on this front is Google it! 

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