I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m not the best planner. No, I take that back, I can plan and execute some pretty nice things – it’s just that I need to have like one panic attack as I try to throw it all together in that very last minute. So on that note, summer is HERE – or almost here at least! The weather is getting warmer, everyone is starting to finalize their travel plans and you are realizing you have travel wishes but no travel plans. DON’T WORRY, Nav.it has got your back. First, assemble your team – that’s if this is about to be a group trip, if you’re planning a solo adventure, then you can skip this step. Then, follow these great savings friendly tips to rock your summer vacay.
The first thing about successfully planning a last minute trip is being open minded around dates and location. People who have done this for a long time swear that the best way to do it is to sign up for all the travel, hotel and airline newsletters so you can hear of raw deals as they come. But let’s keep it real, none of us even thinks of our Spam folder when we are on the hunt for deals. Instead, I have bookmarks for sites that do a good job of uncovering deals. For example, Skyscanner, Kayak Explore, and Google Flight Map are all great tools for that. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go Paris, but this season is too expensive, or you can’t take as many vacation days for that kind of trip (date flexibility can also help you find cheap airfare, but we’ll get to that later). For now, focus on how flexible you can be and go from there. Use those savings friendly search engines to narrow down your search based on the things you can be flexible on and voila, you will have a list of options that will put your wanderlust in overdrive!
Alright, so we got our team and our flexibility down. Now let’s talk about actual transportation.
Spend some time weighing gas expenses vs. flight and rental car expenses. If you are looking for a savings friendly airfare check out fares on Sunday or plan a trip around popular seasons. Be open to using features on booking sites that let you choose a range of travel dates. Like we said before, flexibility can be rewarding. And lastly, book in advance! The closer you book your ticket to your departure date the higher the chances of it being pricier.
If you are traveling domestically it might be worth it to explore train or car options. “Worth” in this context, is a relative thing. On a recent trip to Europe, I had a layover in Zurich for 24 hours. I had already visited the city before so I was more interested in exploring another city. After doing some research, I found my destination: Milan. Not only have I never been but the trip there is along one of Europe’s most scenic Alp routes. The journey was captivating.I got to spend the whole day in one of Europe’s most fashionable cities, enjoy an authentic Italian dinner, and get back to Zurich in time for my flight. The cost to me was less than $150 since I didn’t have to book a hotel. After that, I definitely have plans to go back, this time stopping along the train route and exploring some small towns and lakes.
Consider forgoing bidding for a hotel on websites that offer the option like Priceline, and check out Airbnb first. There are so many savings friendly options on the site that you are bound to find something that works for you. Not only are there cheaper options on Airbnb, sometimes the place has a kitchen and other appliances (laundry machines are especially useful when you don’t pack much to save on luggage fees). You can utilize these appliances to make the most out of your trip and time. If for some reason you are unable to find something for your dates, try Groupon to see what kind of offers they may have. Also, if you are traveling with a group of people – the cost of lodging could be even cheaper if you are splitting the bill. Lastly, remember that every location you go to has its own norms and cultures. I have found that hostel in the US some European countries can be a lot nicer than in other places. One of my favorite hostel stays was in beautiful San Diego, minutes from where all the action was. The key is to do research and pick what works for you.
Of course, you will have to spend money while on the trip, but it’s worth it to explore affordable options so that you don’t completely sacrifice your savings friendly spirit. Planning activities can be hard when you don’t really have a feel for the location. Plus the element of surprise and authentic exploration can be just what you need. To do that I always, put in “meandering” time on my schedule for the first day. That’s when I go downtown or the art district and walk around, talk to people, get a feel for the city. Art districts are my favorite, they tend to have an eclectic mix of people, stores, vibes, and food. Whether on the banks of the St. Louis River or Le Seine, you will notice a good mix of tourist traps and local haunts and as you talk to people you will get enough recommendations to have your whole trip planned out.
Other than art, restaurants, where locals go, don’t always show up on Google or TripAdvisor, especially in foreign countries. In Venice, our best meal came as a recommendation from a sanitation boat driver who was talking to us as he was slowly getting out of one of the smaller canals. He told us he doesn’t eat out often but when he does, he goes to this seafood restaurant a few kilometers from his home. Once we had their calamari and sardines we definitely agreed.
The app Meetup always gives you a good feel for groups in a city, check it out for the city you are visiting to learn about cool locations or activities. Another option is to think of your favorite thing to do in your city and then see if that exists in the place you are visiting. Could you rent roller skates in Barcelona? Are there cool local coffee shops that host art exhibits? On vacation, you finally have time to do things you always wish you had time to do but make happen!
Travel While You Work
While this is not a traditional option by any means, it has become a more viable option for many of us who can work remotely. Companies such as Remote Year, Hacker Paradise, We Roam and Wifi Tribe offer options that can cost from $500 to $3,000 or more per month. These companies allow you to travel, live and work all at the same time. You won’t be alone either, so if you can’t convince a friend to come along and you can get away with working remotely for a bit this can be a great savings friendly option for you.
Image Credit: Mirjana Jesic