How to travel on the cheap
Follow these tips and tricks next time you book a getaway
By Anna Junker, News Editor
It’s the dead of winter and it’s hard not to think about a dream getaway to a warm, exotic destination. But, we’re all students and it’s hard to travel when you can barely afford rent.
I for one, am always anxious about the amount of money I will spend on holiday. It always seems to end up being more money than I intended by the end of it.
However, I’ve done some digging and here are some reasonable tips and tricks to become a savvy traveller. Save money while exploring the world!
Booking a cheap flight
The first step to every holiday is usually booking a flight. Trying to find the cheapest flight is sometimes like trying to find a needle in a haystack. One of the first things you can do to get a cheaper flight is to travel in that country’s off season. However, when you start your search, browse in an incognito or private browsing window to ensure you see the lowest prices possible.
Because of the cookies in your browser, flight prices actually increase when a certain route is routinely searched. The site wants to “scare” you into booking the flight now before prices get even higher. When you browse incognito, your cookies are reset each time you open a new incognito window.
It’s not actually true that booking a flight on a Tuesday will guarantee you a cheap flight. In fact, there is no specific day that will provide you with a cheap flight, although flying out on a weekday is generally cheaper. Unfortunately, you will have to do a little bit more manual work in identifying which day will be cheapest for you to fly.
Budget airlines are your friend
Another way to ensure your flights will be cheap is to identify budget airlines. But be forewarned, the price comes with comprise. You will likely have less leg room, and no “free” food or drink during the flight, which is normally covered in your higher priced ticket. The budget airlines in Canada would be Porter or Air Transat.
However, remember to always read the fine print. Check where your airport location is, as some airlines fly to airports further out of the city. Make sure you’ve booked and paid your luggage fees and always weigh your luggage as some airlines will charge an overweight fee. Some airlines such as Ryanair will also charge a fee if you don’t print off your own ticket, so again always read the fine print.
It’s always important to read the fine print when booking a flight. Some airlines allow one carry-on and one check-in bag while others induce extra costs for a check-in. An easy way to avoid this extra cost is to pack everything in a carry-on bag. If you can’t fit everything into a standard carry-on suitcase, I suggest repacking. Think about it, do you really need five pairs of pants? You can also wear bigger items like jackets and scarves if you’re going somewhere cooler in order to save space. Another tip to save space is to roll up your clothing items. They take up less room and are easier to stack on top of each other. By bringing only a carry-on, this also saves you time where you don’t have to wait at the baggage carousel.
Save on food
The days of complimentary meals on flights are almost long-gone, unless you can settle for a plastic cup of water and a small bag of nuts (which could barely feed a squirrel). Instead of swiping your credit card every time you get hungry and having to gamble on the taste of your food, pack your own meal instead.
By packing your own meal, it will guarantee you will 1) not go hungry 2) your food will taste good and 3) it will cost zero dollars. As long as your meal doesn’t include any liquid over 100 ml you will be able to bring it on the plane.
Try an AirBnB
If you’re looking for something more homely, try booking a few nights at an AirBnB. Depending on your budget, you can find a fairly cheap place to stay. You can narrow your search by the number of guests, home type and price point. I searched up AirBnBs in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico using the general settings and found one for just $75 CAD per night. That’s definitely a deal. Other AirBnB’s in Puerto Vallarta were generally priced between $100 to $300 CAD.
Not up for an AirBnB? You can also get some great deals on hotels. Use a site like Kayak where you will be notified on price alerts for particular hotels or dates you’re interested in, so when the price drops, you will be notified immediately.
Other sites such as Roomer or Cancelon list accomodations after late cancellations, which will have you score rooms for a reduced priced. Apps like Hotel Tonight let you book hotel rooms last minute for great prices. You can also use coupon sites like Groupon for deals on hotels.
If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ve likely racked up a number of points. You can then save on hotel costs by using those airline rewards or miles when making your next booking.
Websites like Expedia and TripAdvisor help you find the best deal at the lowest price.
If you’re travelling to a foreign country, one of the most difficult aspects will be handling the language barrier. However, in the world of technology that we live in, there’s an app for that. A great app for translating is Google Translate. You can download an “offline dictionary” so there are no astronomical roaming charges for when you use it. Other helpful apps are TripIt, which organizes all your travel plans into one master itinerary and Around Me, which suggests restaurants, hotels and theatres.
By following one or all of these tips the next time you plan a trip, you’ll be saving big on flights and hotels. If you’re dreaming of travelling to a faraway place, well, better start booking!