I spend the majority of my disposable income on travel, and I’m assuming if you’re reading my blog, at least some of your money goes on it too!
Travel is an amazing thing, and as the saying goes it’s the “only thing you can spend money on that makes you richer” but it can be pricey, especially if you’re looking to go away at least a few times a year like me.
Whilst I’m willing to spend most of my money on travelling, I’m always keen to make my budget stretch as much as possible, so that I can see and do as much as possible.
With some simple tips and tricks, you can make your travel budget go much further. And who doesn’t want to be able to travel more and better?!
I’m sure that you’re no stranger to Skyscanner but I can’t stress enough how good the site is for finding cheap flights. Particularly if you can be flexible, their search “Everywhere” function is amazing.
Check other websites
Skyscanner is great but I’d encourage you to check out other sites as well, comparison is your best friend when you’re looking for cheap flights and accommodation.
I tend to keep an eye on flight prices for a while before I book, particularly for long haul ones. The prices really do fluctuate and sometimes it’s a good idea to wait for them to drop.
Clear your cookies
When it comes to booking flights, you might see that the prices go up once you’ve looked at them a few times. The cookies on your phone or laptop track what you’ve been looking at, and prices go up automatically.
Clear your browsing history/cookies or book on a different machine to avoid inflated prices.
Sign up to airline loyalty schemes
Even if you’re not a frequent flier, it’s well worth signing up to airline loyalty schemes. Not only will you collect air miles on flights, you can unlock other benefits and are more likely to be upgraded if you have a loyalty account!
Sometimes you don’t need to save up lots of miles to get free flights, schemes such as Emirates Skywards allow you to use your points to buy flights on budget airlines; in this case on EasyJet. I did so a couple of years ago, getting a return flight to Rome for free.
Get an American Express credit card
A credit card through which you can collect air miles is such a great thing to have, even if you don’t fly that frequently. You can either take free (or very cheap flights), or get an upgrade. You can also spend air miles on hotels and a number of other things.
American Express is the best option in the UK, and even though the sign up offers aren’t as good as in the US, there are still some deals to be had.
I’ve got the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card and I love it. It’s free for the first year and £140 thereafter. If you are referred, you’ll receive an extra 22,000 miles if you spend £2,000 in the first three months. That’s enough for a couple of return flights from London to Europe with British Airways! Let me know if you need a referral code and I’ll be happy to help you out.
Another great bonus with the card is that you get two free airport lounge passes per year, and additional passes are just £15 per person for many lounges around the world! An extra treat for a bit of luxury at no extra cost to you.
It’s also worth noting that you earn double points on all flights booked on your card, and you get some great travel insurance protection included too.
Sign up to Jack’s Flight Club
Jack’s Flight Club is an amazing concept that can help save you a lot of money on flights. Sign up for free and you’ll get weekly emails to your inbox with some incredible flights deals. There’s a premium version too which gives you even more.
Keep an eye out once you’ve signed up- you never know, you might see a deal to a destination you’re planning to visit!
Compare, compare, compare
It’s true what the TV adverts say, look on the internet and you’ll find the same hotel room for a wide range of different prices.
By searching through comparison sites, you’ll be able to find the cheapest deal. Going direct to the accommodation is often best but take your time to check different sites, it’s worth it.
Use Booking.com and Expedia
I use Booking.com and Expedia as they often have the best deals. Plus, if you’re a member, you get access to special prices and extra perks for being a regular user. Expedia even has a loyalty points scheme now where you can collect points to use on future stays.
Sign up to hotel loyalty schemes
If you’re planning on staying in a hotel that’s part of a chain, sign up to their loyalty scheme. Again you might get a cheeky upgrade and you can save up points towards future stays.
Collect supermarket loyalty points
I’m not sure what the situation is other countries but in the UK, collecting supermarket loyalty points is a great way to travel cheaper or even for free.
Nectar (Sainsbury’s, Argos) and Tesco Clubcard both allow you to collect points on your shopping to exchange in to vouchers. Nectar allows you to spend points on Expedia bookings amongst others; Tesco Clubcard has lots of hotel and transport options.
By signing up for these and remembering to use them each time you shop, you can soon rack up enough points for a free train or a big discount on a hotel room.
If you can, I’d recommend giving your parents a secondary card if they’re not particularly bothered about collecting points. My dad has a copy of my Nectar card and Clubcard, so I’m lucky enough to collect lots of extra points without spending a penny.
You can also look out for special events and vouchers that mean you earn double or triple points.
Use Top Cashback
I feel that everybody should be making use of Top Cashback.
Essentially, by clicking through their website (barely any extra effort), you can get cash back on things that you were buying anyway.
In terms of travel, the site has some amazing rates for companies such as Booking.com and Expedia. I’ve earnt up to 12% cash back on hotel bookings before, a nice discount; meaning you can either save money or afford to stay somewhere slightly nicer!
You can make particularly big savings on airport parking through Top Cashback- up to 33% in some cases. Check it out for a cheap option to get to and from the airport.
Get a credit or debit card with no use abroad fees
A lot of people lose out on money when they exchange money or use their cards abroad. Some banks and credit card providers can add on hefty fees for using your card when you’re abroad.
Avoid this and save money by signing up for a card with no foreign transaction fees. I’d highly recommend Starling Bank for those in the UK but there are plenty of other options which you’ll find with a quick Google search.
Travel with hand luggage only
An obvious one but one that can save you sooo much money. Why spend £30 on a flight to a European city then another £50 for checked baggage? Surely that money is better spent on your trip, or another flight.
Take just hand luggage- even on most budget airlines these days, you can take a small suitcase plus another small bag such as a handbag or rucksack.
There are plenty of packing guides available on Pinterest if you’re an overpacker (like me) and need some help making the most of that pesky hand luggage space.
Use toiletries bottles
Travelling a lot can mean that you buy extra toiletries very often- not good for the environment or your bank balance.
Buy some cheap plastic toiletry bottles (under 100ml for your hand luggage only trips!) and decant what you already have at home in to those where you can.
You’ll save plenty of money over a year, especially if you regularly buy mini shampoos and the like.
Flexibility can go a long way when you’re planning travel; for example being willing to catch flights at awkward times and visiting countries in their off-peak season.
Keep an open mind and there will be bargains to be had!
There are quite a lot of things there but my top tips out of these would be:
- Invest time in comparing prices for flights and accommodation
- Get a card with no foreign fees
- Use Top Cashback
- Travel with hand luggage where possible
Do you already do any of these or have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you.