Around the World in 80 Dollars
Travel is one of the greatest ways to expand your sense of the world, try new foods, meet new people, and find out that your appliances don’t work with foreign electrical outlets. It’s also one of the greatest ways to spend all of your money.
We recently had some tips for traveling with kids, but whether you’re flying (or driving or taking a train or boat) solo or with an extended family in tow, taking a trip can be like putting your wallet on a starvation diet. Which is why we spoke to the experts to get the tips that will let you travel Around the World in 80 Dollars (not literally)!
Find the cheapest way to get there
One of the most expensive parts of traveling is the “traveling” itself. Obviously, the cheapest way to get around is walking, followed by bicycling, but neither option will get you too far. The further in advance you can plan your trip, the better your options will be. As author Anna Renault (@RenaultAnna) told us, “When I travel, I try to travel ‘cheap.’ I often plan well in advance, watching for cheap airfare or train fares! Sometimes we do drive.”
Taking a bus can also be an affordable travel method if you don’t mind being packed into a tight space with other people, and many bus lines will offer very cheap tickets if you book far enough in advance.
Camping isn’t for everyone, but it can be an affordable way to travel to a location often referred to as “The Great Outdoors!” Renault highly recommends it:
“We like to camp and campgrounds have a ton of activities for kids. We pack our own food which saves a great deal. The ‘kids’ (my adult kid included) enjoy cooking on the camp stove or over an open fire. Of course roasting hot dogs and various sausages is a must. Evenings making s’mores are a given. Hiking and swimming are also ‘required’ activities for this bunch and that’s all FREE. Some campgrounds also have miniature golf, canoeing, and other fun organized games or just badminton/volleyball nets and basketball courts. One also now has a tennis area with three tennis courts. We’ve been known to do a week campout for five people for under $500. A great vacation and fun by all.”
Get a room!
But if you’re not planning to head into the woods and you don’t have family or friends to stay with, you’ll need to find a hotel. And that can be perilously pricey. Josh Elledge (@Joshelledge), the expert behind SavingsAngel.com (@savingsangel), offered these detailed hotel strategies:
“Saving on hotels is easy, you just need to know where to look and when to look. One of my go-to ‘where to look’ places is Swagbucks, because you can easily multiply your savings. First, earn Swagbucks when you buy a gift card through MyGiftCardsPlus, powered by Swagbucks, choosing a company like Hotels.com (5% cash back), then book your hotel through Swagbucks, booking on Hotels.com, to get another 10% cash back, and finally, select from Hotel.com’s already-discounted prices and pay with your gift card. That’s 3 ways to save on the same hotel stay.
“As for ‘when to look,’ take some time to plan before you go and be as flexible as possible. Sometimes the difference of just one day can slash your hotel bill. For example, in hot tourist spots, the difference in price between a Sunday—Thursday night stay and a Friday—Sunday stay can be staggering. As much as HALF the cost. On top of that, it’s easiest to find midweek deals on travel discount sites like Groupon Getaways or Expedia because they aren’t as popular.
“If traveling on the weekends is really your only option, use Tripadvisor.com to identify clean, safe hotels in your budget. Many people mistakenly believe that the star rating of a hotel is a direct indicator of how clean or safe a hotel is. That isn’t the case. The star rating is really more an indicator of the amenities a hotel offers. So don’t go for a 4-star hotel just because you believe that is your only option for a clean, comfortable stay when a 2-star will do. Likely you’re just paying for amenities like concierge service or sophisticated workout equipment.
“And finally, there are ways to “hack” both Priceline and Hotwire—to make sure you get their deep discounts on a hotel you’ll be happy with. Using Tripadvisor’s reviews and scores, paired with the map information and amenities information Priceline gives you, you can usually identify the “secret” hotel, or at least narrow it down to a couple possibilities. Then you’ll know if what you get you’ll be happy with before you buy.”
Eleni Cotsis, of travel startup AllTheRooms (@alltherooms), suggested people check out their site for deals: “It’s great for traveling families to keep costs down, because they can compare hotels, AirBnBs, and vacation rentals all in one place to get the best bang for their buck. Sometimes a vacation rental can be a lot lower cost for a family than renting hotel rooms. Also, the option to prepare food in a kitchen can save money on taking everyone out to eat for every meal.”
Sharing is caring
Whatever you think of the “sharing economy,” for many people it’s the best way to get deals they can afford. Emmanuel Arnaud and Charles-Edouard Girard founded two such sites, HomeExchange (@HomeExchangecom) and GuestToGuest (@GuestToGuest), because they believed “families should never pay for accommodations.” As they told us:
“Home swapping opens the door for families to swap with other families to ensure they have all of the space and amenities everyone will need when going abroad. The authentic experience allows families to travel like a local and even extends opportunities for car and pet swapping!
“With GuestToGuest having recently acquired U.S.-based HomeExchange, the merger indicates a turning point in the travel industry as the two join to create the world’s undisputed leader of the free home swapping market with more than 400,000 homes in their collective inventory.
“The money saved on accommodations can be put towards fun activities and excursions while on location!”
Travel can be pricey, but by planning ahead and using some internet know how, you can find a deal that lets you get away for a while.
Emmanuel Arnaud and Charles-Edouard Girard:
Thanks to the financial support of 22 different families, Emmanuel Arnaud was able to bring his idea to life and founded GuestToGuest in 2011. Emmanuel met Charles-Edouard Girard at an entrepreneurial networking event and the two decided to partner up and continue bringing home exchange into the 21st century.
Charles-Edouard Girard graduated from Centrale Paris with an engineering degree. His first few professional experiences included managing digital marketplaces and organizing different marketing projects for consulting firms, publishing companies and even pharmaceutical laboratories. After meeting Emmanuel Arnaud, the two decided to team up and develop GuesttoGuest. Charles Edouard took charge of the marketing strategy and it was thanks to his efforts that GuesttoGuest became the world leader in home exchange.
Eleni Cotsis is a lifelong nomad. A Southern California native, she is currently a digital nomad; writing about her experiences through the lens of a young millennial professional living abroad. She is the Marketing Manager for AllTheRooms (@alltherooms) and writes about travel hacks for every time of traveler.
Josh Elledge is on a mission to help Americans save money and time so they can give. He is Founder and Chief Executive Angel of SavingsAngel.com® (@savingsangel), which bolsters the buying power of the average U.S. family by combining technology, coupons and smart thinking for extreme savings on household consumables and everyday items. Through his work with SavingsAngel.com, Elledge has emerged as one of the nation’s leading experts on consumer savings.
Anna Renault (@RenaultAnna) is a published author, public speaker and editorial columnist. She is also a daughter, sister, mother and grandmother. Renault loves traveling with her daughter and her grandchildren. She has also enjoyed writing books about her cancer journey, environmental issues.and a few other topics. To learn more about Anna visit her website annarenault.com.