Travel Longer for Less
For the purpose of this post let's just estimate the average travel cost as a Canadian flying abroad:
- Return Plane Ticket: $1500.00
- Accommodation: 15 days x 100$/night (hotels) = $1500.00
- Food @ 20$/meal (restaurants): 15 days x 60$ = $900.00
I always know that my plane tickets is going to hurt my wallet because it's a large upfront cost, but it can be easy to overlook the costs of just basic day to day living. I've collected my favourite ways to keep these costs down.
Turn off your cookies/ Use a secret window
To keep costs on flights down the most important thing is to turn off your cookies. Ever been looking up an Arcteryx Jacket and all of a sudden an Arcteryx ad comes up on your facebook? Ever looked up a flight, and then 2 days later, that same flight is more expensive? Your computer is tracking and saving your movements and sending that information out. If you turn off your cookies, it doesn't save that information, therefore, airlines will be offering you the lowest price.
Check Various Airlines
Shop around is my next bit of advice. Discount websites that compare airlines are great, but also research prices directly through the airline providers. I've searched out great combinations through sites like Redtag and Flighthub, but I've also been able to find even cheaper and better flights directly through various providers like Westjet or Icelandair.
Try flying mid-week
Flexible Dates, when possible, can also save you cash. Flying during the week (especially Tues- Thursday) versus during weekends usually significantly reduces fares. Websites with the "flexible date" calendar are quite handy.
Tent it out
Accommodation can add up very quickly. To be honest, we are super non-fuss, so we often camp (in a tent, but campervans or converted buses work just as great) when traveling within Canada and abroad. Camping can reduce accommodation costs from 100$ per night to 15$. Of course, there are places where camping is more suitable, and places where we would prefer to not get eaten by a lion (it's a joke, I'm funny) so for those instances, even as a family, we still look up hostels.
Hostels are best known for having basic dormitory style rooms, but they often also have reduced rate private rooms. As someone who has traveled since a young age, I'm no rookie to hostels and am no stranger to the fun that occurs in them, so I suggest researching your hostel prior to your arrival and ensuring that it would suit your traveling needs. For us, we are usually traveling with our daughter, so we seek out the peaceful spots.
Another favourite of ours, particularly if we intend on staying in one place for a while is renting a house/townhouse/condo/etc. Vacation rentals can save on various accounts since they often have a kitchen where you can cook your own meals. Bonus if you can find another family or more friends to bring down the cost of the rental.
travel during shoulder season
There are a few things that make shoulder season awesome. (Shoulder season is considered the month/months before and after peak season. They vary from country to country, and even city to city) First reason why we love shoulder season: there are way less crowds. Secondly, you won't be paying premium prices for flights OR hotels. For the best deals, but perhaps not the best weather, you could also try traveling during the off season.
Our last few tips for accommodation shopping include bargaining, calling hotels directly, and using a discount hotel website such as priceline or expedia.
Stock up on snack and breakfast food
We all have to eat. It's safe to say that dinner is generally the most expensive meal of the day. If we don't have a kitchen and are eating out for most of our meals, I usually try to purchase some no-cook items such as fruit and muffins or basic easy food for most breakfasts. It's cheap, nutritional, and easy, and if you have a refrigerator you can splurge and grab some yogurt or cheese.
Find hotels that include a meal
Sometimes you can find a hotel with an included buffet breakfast that is similar in cost to a hotel without. Or maybe an all inclusive is your cup of tea. Either way, there is no denying how nice it is to wake up to a warm cup of coffee and breakfast.
Take advantage of lunch deals and happy hour
Lunches are usually cheaper than dinners and are similar in size, so we make lunch the biggest meal of our day. Restaurants often have great deals up until dinner rush and happy hour can sometimes include snacks/appetizers. Plus... happy hour always includes drinks ;).
Power up on snacks
I don't believe that I need to say this, but carrying snacks is key. When on the road, who knows when the next time you'll have access to food will be. It's best to not wait until you're at the kiosk that charges 100% more than the last town over because it's over saturated with tourists but you're so hungry that you would give your left arm for a bag of peanuts.
Lastly, accommodation with a kitchen is often a bonus, but if you're out for most of the day it's not much good for you. So why not try out one of the street vendors? You're best off to go with the one that has a bit of a line, there's probably a reason why people keep going back. Or maybe they were just featured in a popular travel mag and now everyone is going there so you want to give another vendor a chance? The world is your oyster.
Editors Note: Every photo has a story right? The flight photo was taken at the height of my makeup artist career while working with Bill Nye filming a documentary for National Geographic. The room photo was at a luxury off-season ski lodge in Norway. We had been camping across Norway but after several days of near freezing we were ready for a break and sought out this cozy lodge. The food photo was provided by my girlfriend Terri who is the face behind "The Ranting Cook". Check her out for some tasty meal ideas. The above and final photo was taken earlier this summer while going for a quick summit hike up McKirdy Mountain.