How To Plan Short, Budget Friendly Trips
by: Dominica Reid
My fiancé Caleb and I love to travel and we always try to do multiple trips in a year. Due to my work schedule, and of course finances, we like to keep our trips short and try to travel as thrifty as possible. This is especially the case when we’re traveling around the United States. My goal is to visit every U.S. state, but in order to do so I have to spend my money wisely. Here’s some valuable advice that has saved me a lot of money and time. I really we wish I had known these things before.
1.) Booking Your Flight
How many times have you experienced this? You just browse for flights on your computer, looking to see how much it would cost to fly to a specific destination. You click out of the site, only to return a day later and the price has increased dramatically? The more you browse on the site, the higher the prices become. This happened to me when I was browsing for ticket prices for an upcoming trip to Boston and New Hampshire. I started looking months in advance and every time I checked, the prices would increase exponentially, to the point where they went from a couple of hundred dollars to over a $1000.00 a piece. When I told Caleb this, he was confused, because when he checked the exact same site, the prices were still at a few hundred bucks. So what happened? Travel sites can see if you are looking at a particular travel destination multiple times. Since this means that you are very interested they know they can charge more money for the flight.
Set your browser to incognito mode. This way you can browse different travel sites without the fear of them gauging the prices. I truly wish I had known about this sooner, it could’ve saved me hundreds of dollars.
This one is another lesson we’ve learned on our many trips. It might seem cheaper to book a hotel or Airbnb that’s further away from the city center and sights, but I can guarantee you it’s not. On our trip to Austin we booked an Airbnb that was a hundred dollars cheaper than some of the other locations, due to it being farther away from the city center. We just so happen to be in town when the city had ended up cancelling its partnership with Uber and Lyft. So we ended up walking A LOT and waiting for buses in the sweltering Texas summer heat. We went in July, and my poor gingerman (Caleb) was so miserable. Once we added up the cost of the bus/cab fare plus Airbnb, it ended up being as expensive, if not more, than had we booked a closer location.
Before committing to a location check and see how much it will cost to get around town, and if you’re willing to walk multiple miles to save money. Also check and see if the city has its own ride-sharing service. Austin may have cut ties to Uber and Lyft, but they did have their own ride-sharing service. It was more expensive, and you had to make a reservation an hour in advance but it was helpful.
I cannot stress enough to get a hotel or Airbnb with a kitchen, kitchenette, or at least a mini-fridge. These are huge money and time savers. On short trips our time is very limited and we want to see as much as we can. We noticed that we were wasting a lot of our time stopping to eat for breakfast in the mornings. We came to the realization that it was much cheaper to wake up early and have breakfast at home, then go out and explore. Something light like granola and yoghurt with fruit will last the entire trip and can be bought for super cheap. It also keeps you full for a while. A second benefit of saving time on breakfast is that you can spend more money on nicer restaurants later on in the day.
4.) Planning Your Day
Caleb and I are not big planners. We always just go with the flow and hope for the best, but on short trips we have to if we want to see everything we want to. Something that we have found that has worked for us is to plan all of our museum trips early in the mornings. We tend to be at the door right when they open. This way we can see everything we want to see, but still have time to explore other parts of the city. If there are particular restaurants that we just have to try, we skip those for later on in the evening. Restaurants tend to stay open later than museums, so save those for later on in the day.