How to Travel on a Budget

Traveling is stressful, 
but it doesn't have to be expensive... 

I have been thinking about this post for awhile. Everyone always asks me how we are able to travel so much. In the last 3 years I have been to Japan, Hong Kong, Fiji, Australia, Philippines, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Singapore, North Korea, Cambodia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Tahiti, India, & Thailand. It definitely helps that we are temporarily living in Asia which puts us close to so many great destinations.

Wherever you live, planning a trip can be expensive and stressful. There are a few tricks on how to save money when you are planning your next adventure. Here are just a few of them for you-

Number one rule of saving money while traveling is: PREPARE AND PLAN! Spending time online, googling hotels, airfares, and reading books about cultures will help in the long run. It may not sound fun, but saving money and finding deals can be thrilling. Peyton could spend hours and hours looking at different destinations and itineraries that would work. It is a hobby for him. 

Where do you go to help plan your vacation? 

First of all- we have NEVER used a travel agency. Peyton enjoys planning everything and getting the deals himself. Also, we don't have to pay the agency for their assistance. They usually have limitations and restrictions on what they offer you. Who wants that? But, we do spend a lot of time online and here are the resources we use so that we can find the deals. 

  • is a great free resource and travel guide online. It is best for seeing top activities in destinations, where to eat, where to stay, what to do. It also, gives you additional info on sightseeing around the area and lots of information and what to expect so you can plan accordingly. When we went to India we looked up information through this website and found out not to take the fake taxis when we exited the airport as they would take us a bad route and charge us double the money to get to our hotel. With this knowledge we took the correct city taxi. If we were not prepared we would have trusted them and paid a price.  (Now, A lot of scams and rip-offs rely on you to be unprepared. So if you do your research and know what to expect you can save hundreds of dollars and have a peace of mind and knowledge of where you are traveling. Wikitravel is a great resource for warnings and cautions while traveling.) 

  •  is a travel site where you can compare hotels and activities through user ratings. For instance, I can go into this site, search Los Angeles and see where to stay for the cheapest and ratings from people who have stayed there. It is incredibly helpful when you want "real" reviews and suggestions.
  • ITA software matrix  is a website where you search by airport of where you want to go and it shows you all airlines and when the cheapest itinerary is. This layout helps you compare airlines and when the cheapest ticket is available. For example, we are planning an Africa trip for next year and found that if we go in a different month than we originally had in mind we can save hundreds of dollars on airfare for the reason of it being low tourist season. We use this site instead of kayak, Priceline, etc.  
  • Travel is Free - is a great resource for anyone trying to find deals and tricks on booking travel.  It includes guides for stopovers (discussed later) and how to collect frequent flier miles.
How do you have so many miles to go to these places? 
  • A few different ways. Peyton used to travel a lot for work so he has collected some miles over time for his business trips. In addition, we collect miles by signing up for credit cards that will give us frequent flyer miles. We have done a few, but our top favorites have been the United miles cards. Travel is free website does a great job explaining all this information to use United miles here.  We have used different cards for different award deals, but it all depends on how much you are wanting to acquire and what cards are offering.
(FYI- I strongly discourage opening credit cards if you are not able to pay them off. If you acquire miles it will do you no good if you are in debt because of it.)

How can you go to more than one destination each trip? 
  • This is something called stopovers. When you use a stopover it allows you to stay in your connection city for greater than 24 hours and LESS than the duration of your trip. They call this "a stopover" (similar to a second destination) when you use international award flights. We were able to do this when we went to the Maldives, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India because we used stopovers and the 3 destinations were shorter periods of time. The Flight Deal website does a great job of explaining this in further if you go here.

How do you find out where to stay?
  • As always, a lot of research is done. But we have also had some great credit cards that have awarded us with Hyatt and IHG points which helps bring our hotel costs down considerably.
    When we do not stay in a hotel and use any miles or points we always turn to TripAdvisor and WikiTravel first. Both sites will show you the best options for your budget.  
  • Always remember, the best location is not always right in the middle of time square. For instance, staying outside the city is great if you can find a proper way to get into the city and how. Plus, it will save you money to stay a little further away from your main destination or tourist spot.
  • Stay in a prime location to public transportation. For example; close to a bus, subway or train stop. Not too far from the airport, unless you know what to expect for transportation.  (Always check how much parking is at hotel. Not always free.) 
  • Wikitravel is good for learning how your destination gets around, eats, and functions so you are more educated and prepared. Some countries rely on public transportation like subways and taxis. Or if you are not comfortable driving on the other side of the street, you may need to take a bus. These things should be researched beforehand so there are no surprises when you get there. 

    • One of the biggest suggestions I can give you in relation to hotels is truly ask yourself how often you will be staying at your hotel. If this trip will be a busy one, you may be able to find somewhere that is cheap but provides a shower and a bed. All you need!
      --- In the Maldives we knew it was going to be very expensive so we decided to stay somewhere on the main island in a small and some-what ghetto hotel. We decided to do a day trip to swanky resorts and paid a small fee every day to go to different ones. This allowed us access to their pool, beaches, sauna, restaurant, etc. 

    Got any more little travel tricks? 
    •   After you make you reservations through your hotel, you can ask them additional questions about your location like how much transportation is and if there are things nearby like a general store.  Also, asking them about personal needs like a crib, a fridge, water, etc. 
    • Bring powdered laundry detergent. I know it may sound a little ghetto, but doing this will allow you to not have to pack so many clothes, and thus save you luggage fees. We started doing this when Samantha was born and we saved so much room and money when we washed stuff in the sink and hung it up to dry. Also, disposable utensils are a good idea, too. I know you can get disposable placemats and bibs in the states. 
    • Toiletries- don’t forget things that you will have a hard time finding in your destination. Example- diapers, formula and medicine. Also, sanitary items (Do I need to say more?) 
    •    Food- snacks for children, protein bars, trail mix, beef jerky- things that will keep you full if you can’t find somewhere to eat. We have had this problem more than once. 

    So there you have it! Travel lots, make good memories and don't spend a fortune.

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