How to make travel cheap(er)

Travel can be ridiculously expensive but, with some planning, we too can catch flights and not feelings.

Even though we’re living during pandemic times, there’s nothing like getting a jumpstart on planning your first post-COVID trip!

For many Caribbean nationals, having a passport is more for identification than actual travel because, let’s be real, that’s expensive!

Consideration for things like airfare, accommodations and spending money may serve as a deterrent to those who want to vacation abroad but think it too expensive. However, trips can be made significantly cheaper if one plans accordingly.

Buy tickets early (enough)

Timing is everything when purchasing a plane ticket. A month too early or too late could end up costing you much more than is ideal. (Photo: WestJet)

As a general rule, try to stay away from buying last-minute tickets. On that note, you also want to stay away from getting tickets too soon. Purchasing tickets between two to three months in advance of your planned travel date could get you the best prices, depending on the season, according to acheapair.com study based on 917million airfares across 8,000 markets. Travel during holiday periods and to popular destinations will cost more. For example, the difference between tickets to New York bought for travel in October may vary by as much as US$100 or more each when compared to one bought for travel in December, closer to Christmas.  

Visit a cheaper location

Visiting a destination closer to home or less popular could be the cost-effective dream vacation you didn’t know you needed.

Consider travelling to a cheaper city or country than where you have planned. Closer and less popular destinations often come with more reasonable airfares than you would find when compared to hotspots frequented by Instagram influencers. So, Miami over New York or Mexico instead of Europe will almost always work out to be less expensive.

Plan and save

It doesn’t matter where you’re travelling to, good planning and saving will go a long way towards making that vacation even more memorable.

We love the idea of living in the moment and spontaneous trips sound fun but will usually involve unplanned expenses. Think carefully about what you would want to do with your two weeks’ vacation and work towards a well-thought out trip that allows you to maximise your time while minimising expenditure. Your bank account will thank you later.

Travel Light

Take just the essentials. You don’t need a pair of jeans for every day or different shoes coordinated with every outfit.

In an age where you are charged for everything on flights, bringing additional bags will add up, costing anywhere from US$25 per bag one way for the first bag with the second being even more. Pack smart and travel light.

Eat Like A Local

The best people to tell you where to find the best tasting and least expensive food are those who live there.

By that we don’t necessarily mean eat food from that area; eating like a local means eat where the locals would eat. Ask for suggestions from the people around. They know where to get the best food and at the most reasonable price. The only thing that beats delicious is delicious and cost-effective.

Visit Friends and Family/Go Where You Know People

Staying with family may not seem like much of a vacation but think of the costs you’ll eliminate by just updating them on everything happening back home.

Go where you have friends and or family. This seems obvious but many people choose to stay away from people they know because of the expectations and the desire to avoid family drama. However, staying with relatives eliminates the cost of accommodations and, oftentimes, food.

Earn Miles/Points

Many companies now offer great rewards for using their credit cards. Research and see which best can help you on that dream vacay.

Speaking of credit cards, get you one that gives you travel points or discounts at hotels etc. I got a *insert bank and credit card here* four years ago and since then I’ve been able to redeem points three times for round-trip tickets to New York and Miami. I use my credit card for most regular expenses and then immediately pay it off in full to avoid interest rates while watching the points add up.

Travel in a group

Travelling with friends can help to split expenses like taxis and accommodations.

And if you insist on avoiding family at all costs, then plan your trips with a small group of friends to split costs for things like taxis, accommodations and meals which can really add up.