Rome, Italy | Travel

Before I quit my job to take my first trip to Europe, I had no idea what I was doing. The only traveling I had done before was the ‘vacation’ type of traveling – booking when I had the money to spend or the days off, and I didn’t take much time to investigate how to travel smarter, better and cheaper. When I started preparing for my trip, I did a lot of research on the planning process on the internet. There are a number of things I did to prepare, and I thought I’d share some tips on how to help you travel for less money.

1. Fly for free.

How To Travel For Cheap

Yep, you read that correctly. You could score a free flight by signing up for an airline miles rewards card. There are a number of different options, but I ended up signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card (VISA). I realized that all of the purchases that I had been making on my debit card could have been accruing points on a credit card that could help me get a discount or even a free flight.

When I signed up for the card, I had to spend $3,000 within 3 months and I received 50,000 bonus points. Most cards will give you a minimum spending amount to qualify and receive the bonus points. Those 50,000 bonus points are the equivalent of around a $600 flight.

So change the way you spend. Sign up for a credit card and make it so that every single dollar you spend comes back to you in some way.

2. Plan to take a trip when it’s not the busiest time of year.

Lock Bridge, Paris

If you work full time in the U.S. (Europeans and Australians don’t get to complain – you guys get more than a month vacation every year so I’ve heard), you know that it’s tough to get vacation days. Most of them are spent around the holidays, and if they don’t “roll over” until the next year, you’re forced to take them when everyone else is taking them.

That drives all the prices up – flights, hotels, tours, everything. When I went to Iceland in April, I avoided the crowds and higher prices. The biggest tourist season for the country is during the summer.

Research your destination beforehand – find out when their busiest months are, and plan to go there before or after those months. You might miss out on the ‘perfect’ weather, and have to wear a few extra layers, but in my mind – it’s worth saving the money and getting to explore that destination during a less crowded time.

3. Fly when it’s cheapest.

I think we all know by now that airline sites and third-party booking websites (Orbitz, Priceline, etc.) will increase flights right when you’re getting ready to click ‘Submit’ on your payment information. Airline prices change at least three times per day.

One tip is to use ‘incognito’ tabs via Google Chrome when looking at flights. Another tip is to delete your cookies and browser history before comparing flights.

When looking for flights, I use Google Flights (flight price comparison over time), CheapoAir (flight comparison on multiple airlines) and Kayak (flight comparison + map tool).

Google Flights offers a way to look at the difference in flight prices throughout the year. Just click on the date after putting in your destination, and you’ll see the prices of the same flight, each day of the calendar year.

How To Travel For Cheap

They even put the lowest price of the month in green, so you can save almost $300 by flying on Thursday, instead of Friday. That’s one day. (That’s worth $300 in my book.)

Using this tool will allow you to plan ahead of time, find the best days to fly for the cheapest price, and eventually book the best flight deal.

4. Try the right package deal


Sometimes it is cheaper (and less of a headache) to book one trip with everything included in one price. No one likes spam, but it’s a good idea to sign up for travel airline, booking and hotel newsletters. They’ll send you deals and it’s best to take advantage of them when they’re available. In some cases, booking everything separately will end up costing you more than booking cheap holidays with everything included to Cyprus.

5. Travel to Somewhere That’s Not So Damn Expensive


London? Paris? Amsterdam? Chances are, you’ll end up spending way more money when you get to bigger cities and popular tourist destinations. Remember that the flight is not the only expense you have when traveling. Think food, exchange rate, inter-country travel (trains, metro) and activity fees (i.e. museum entry, etc.).

When choosing a destination to travel to, don’t cut out a place just because of the flight cost. It’s expensive to fly New York to Thailand, but the expenses that I would incur during my trip would be a lot less money than what I’d spend in Europe. Cambodia, Thailand, Bulgaria, Hungary – just some of the countries around the world that are a lot cheaper to visit.

What are some tips that you offer to save money when traveling? Leave your comments below!





10 Secrets To Traveling Smarter, Cheaper, & Longer

  • Definitely down with number five, girl! When I compared expenses of my time in Rome this summer to what I will probably be spending in South East Asia, I was shocked. The flight might be the most expensive part of the trip, but considering that your day to day expenses are so low… its totally worth it. Great post as always Jinna!

    • Yes! It hurts to buy a really expensive flight at first, but once you get there you realize it’s so much cheaper! That’s so awesome that you got to go to South East Asia – I’m hoping to go this year some time. Maybe in the winter? 😀

      • I’m hoping to go this spring/ early summer! If you end up beating me there, I look forward to hearing any recommendations 🙂

  • what a fabulous post! I didn´t know about google flights app and it´s awesome! next trip, I would use your advices, thank you so much!

    • Glad to hear that you found some use out of this post! Thanks so much for reading 😀 xx

  • I’ve heard about the airline cookies thing before but I didn’t know about the Incognito Tab! Definitely using it for my next flight. Also…how fucked up is it that airline prices fluctuate depending on your previous searches!? (answer: very)

  • I feel like you have been updating more since the start of 2015, and it makes me so happy to read all of you post’s – keep up the good work (:

    • I have, thank you so much for reading! Trying to get my life together. =P

  • Thanks so much for these tips! I had no idea the google flights app even existed!


  • I have yet to sign up for a travel credit card, but you’ve convinced me it’s worth it! Also, I use Adioso to compare flight prices and it works well, especially when dates are flexible.

    • Ahh, thank you for the resource Laura! Definitely sign up for a travel credit card!

  • We like using Airbnb to find accommodations. They are usually cheaper and you get a whole apartment sometimes where you can cook and save money on meals!

    • So true! And sometimes you will find an awesome location where you can walk places too. Convenience in location can also help you save some money!

  • These are all good. I didn’t know about Google Flights! Thanks for sharing that tip.

    Global Girl Travels
    Travel like a lady. Budget like a boss.

  • Great tips re: flight search, google flights and going incognito! What I’m finding is that going the airbnb route, many people are starting to treat it more like an airbnb meaning (free breakfast as well) and any meal that we don’t have to “worry” about helps! Also, if you can buy groceries and make your own lunch… I’m all for doing up certain meals… but it doesn’t have to be all of them. Plus, it gives you a chance to feel more like a local!

  • Aki

    I often use for airfare. It seems like they do a more comprehensive search than Kayak.
    On a related note, I was recently trying to book a flight to Cabo San Lucas and many of the flights were coming up as 15 hour travel time (on kayak). However, when I looked at the individual airline websites I found direct, 3 hour flights, for cheaper than what was listed on Kayak. Sometimes it pays to search the actual airline sites.

    For students: Look into getting an International Student Identification Card (ISIC). I used that to get a student train pass in Europe and amazing flight deals through STA travel.

    For countries with trains: Read in advance if you can purchase a train pass for cheaper before you go to that region/country. This was true for me in Europe and Japan.

  • Dixie O’Dare

    I’m a qualified Travel Agent, and the best Advice I can give is to book your flights as early as possible to get the good early bird deals (the fares will go up and up as seats are sold) and totally agree, go out of season! I’m not so sure about other countries, but if you are travelling from Australia, November and February are usually pretty cheap times to book for most destinations

  • If you leave the big cities in europe, although it is still more expensive than other parts of the world, it really does take the sting out! another option is to travel using helpx or wwoof or workaway!

  • Kari Guastella

    This is a great post! I have the Capital One Venture card. I love that it gets me points but allows me to be flexible with how I spend them so that I can get the best deal!