For some of us travel is in our blood. It is a necessity that drives us and because of that we
make it a priority.
The key that I have found to being able to travel is not having set dates in mind. This allows me
to be flexible and book flights when there is a killer sale. I do have a bucketlist of places I
definitely need to visit before I die but for the most part I am up to go almost anywhere. This
also allows me to get great flight deals because in general I have no particular destination in
mind. Most people have hobbies that they invest a great deal of time into and my hobby is
searching for great travel deals which means I may spend hours and weeks just browsing my
daily deal emails and travel sites looking for the current rates on hotels and flights. Skyscanner
has a really cool function where you can select your departure airport and leave the destination
blank and also avoid designating specific dates. The result is a list of all the possible destination
starting with the most affordable routes first. I used this function to score a 4 night
accommodation in Singapore with return tickets for 2 people at the low price of 1,200AUD.
For me the most important part of a trip being affordable is getting a great flight deal. Once you
have settled on the best dates to fly then you can start searching for accommodation. Luckily,
accommodation options are vast ranging from hostels, private rentals, shared rooms, camp
sites, hotels and even boats. I recently booked a private villa in Bali through AirBnB with a
swimming pool and the price for this whole house was cheaper than any 4 star hotel in the
area. Plus, as an added bonus I have my own kitchen so I am saving money on food because I an
stock the fridge and pantry from the local market. Another aspect of booking through sites with
private rentals is that the price can be negotiable especially in off seasons.
Off seasons are times that are less popular to travel in but don’t mistake them for bad times to
travel. The reasons may be due to weather but it may just also be that school is in session and
families are travelling less. An example of a high season would be December. While I have
travelled during December more than expected I do try to avoid it because of inflated ticket
prices and a general mad house at the airports. Even in high season a person can still get a great
deal just remember that the airports ad laneways will be busier so it is best to be on time or
early. There is nothing worse than waiting in line for three hours to check in and check your bag
because you thought you would arrive only an hour or two before your international flight and
now there is a line out the door.
Speaking of checking in with checked bags, don’t do it. Another way I have found to save time
and money is to travel with only a carry on. Not only does it cut down on time to check in but it
also means that never again do I have to wait around the carousel anticipating my bag to come
out or worse yet discover that my new suitcase has been damaged during the process. True
story: I bought a brand new suitcase and on the first flight I checked it into it came out
apparently having been ran over by the bag trolley. And of course you can put in a claim; just
wait in another line behind more frustrated travelers for a few hours of your vacation. Not
doing it. If you can, stick with a carry on because it will make your travel experience simpler and
lighter. Also remember that if the need arises you can usually pick up anything along the way
that you forgot or didn’t anticipate needing.
After travelling as much as I have you get your head around the basics. I usually have a carry-on
paired with either a standard sized backpack or purse. Currently I prefer to travel to warmer
climates which makes packing a lot easier. I know that I will spend the majority of time in my
bathing suit, which I bring two, and then I make sure I have a few dresses suitable for dinner
and a few outfits that are functional. I always bring a pair of sneakers for walking and activities.
I rely heavily on dresses because it’s an outfit that needs no pairing, unlike shorts, pants and
skirts. In the past I was an over packer especially on my trip to Eastern Europe during the start
of winter. I wanted to be warm but also fashionable which was to be my detriment. Loaded
down with the biggest duffel bag I could find at the Army surplus store I was stocked with at
least three or four winter coats and at least four different styles of leather boots. Quick tip:
Many interstate flights do not allow as much checked luggage weight as international flights, so
you will end up paying heavily in extra baggage fees. Don’t do it.
Solo travel: Do it! I have people tell me all the time that they have never travelled alone and
they are afraid to do it. When I first started to travel I was very young and didn’t really have
friends that could afford to travel or whom wanted to travel. That didn’t stop me for a second.
The best thing about solo travel is that there is no debate on where to go or what to do. The
trips are solely up to you and you can change your mind a million times. I miss the days of solo
travel, the freedom it affords you and the feeling that anything is possible. A great way to
experience solo travel whilst still travelling with a friend or partner is to tack on a few days
before or after the trip where you are travelling solo.
The splurge: Certain trips deserve an encore; save for these trips and splurge wisely. Book your
tickets as business/first class upfront or book with an airline that allows upgrades at the airport.
This second method is a gamble but I have been able to get business class upgrades for as low
as 200$ one way and first class for 500$ one way. My motto with upgrades is that it never hurts
to ask. Trust me, you do not want to be starting your dream vacation on a 20 hour flight in
coach. Check out handy sites such as luxury Escapes which continuously advertises luxury
accommodations on sale for a fraction of the price. Just remember, before you book your
luxury accommodation check on flight prices. Picking the right dates could be the difference of
being able to afford a business/first class ticket upfront as opposed to making do with coach ad
taking the gamble on an upgrade at the airport.
The budget: Backpacking, the ultimate affordable travel route. To be honest I have never
backpacked or stayed in a hostel. Perhaps my trust issues and social awkwardness has shied me
away from this travel style that almost flows into a lifestyle. I do however have a novel fantasy
about packing up my Osprey and heading out with no particular destination in mind and not a
worry in the world about my budget. Backpacking around Europe is something that is cheap
and easy to do because of super affordable in country flights and transportation. Plus, it is a
cool way to meet people. I believe there are even apps that help connect backpackers.
If you are looking for tips on which travel backpack to purchase I recommend this article:
Tips to save: Make a dream board, or write down in a notebook the places you want to travel
to. The idea is to give yourself something visual and tangible. Now set a goal for the expected
amount of money you need to save or budget for in order to make these trips possible. Now
that you have a goal in mind you are able to be more aware of your expenditures. You can save
in little ways such as making coffee at home instead of going out to purchase a 6$ latte.
Research restaurants that will be in the area of your travels and plan which ones you want to
eat at. This always gets me excited and then I realize I’d rather bypass eating out while at home
and save for food experiences overseas. Set up a savings account at the bank that you keep and
deposit money into for the sole purpose of vacation. It is best that you set this account up with
no debit card so that you only make deposits into it and can track your progress. Look into
group travel deals. Group travel allows you to get the lowest net price because the tour
operator is booking in bulk with a preferred supplier. It is also an amazing way to meet and
make friends with people from all over the world.
No matter what your budget is or where you are headed always remember to check on visa
requirements, passport expiry limits, health warnings and immunization/shot requirements.
But most of all enjoy every moment of your travels and don’t forget to take memorable
pictures to share with your friends, family and future kids or grandkids! Who knows, perhaps
you will be the inspiration for others to take that long dreamt about holiday.
For more travel tips and inspiration follow me on Instagram @travel_inspired_life