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The key to successful travel, no matter whether youíre staying in hostels or living the life of luxury on a resort, is to keep to your budget. Regardless of what this is, there are plenty of ways to cut it down Ė everything from comparing hotel costs to relocating cars across the country. This guide covers it all.
HotelsI like Hotels Combined, but everyone has their favorite comparison site. Simply put it, it compares multiple hotel websites to find the cheapest deals. I might then try and use a voucher if I can find one Ė the Fat Wallet travel section has some great hotel vouchers.
FlightsAgain itís a comparison of comparison sites (excessive maybe, but itís worth it) combined with keeping an eye on the latest flight deals and coupons.
Hotel AlternativesHotels are one way to travel and are definitely one of the easiest going, but there are a few other options as well. Iíve tried Couchsurfing (staying with locals for free), but thereís also Wwoofing (working on an organic farm) or paid stays with locals such as AirBnB. The difference between sites like AirBnB and Couchsurfing, apart from the payment factor, is that with Couchsurfing you usually end up sleeping on a couch or floor whereas with AirBnB youíre usually paying for a room in someoneís house.
Pet CostsYouíre going away, but what do you do about Rover and Kitty? The easiest option is to ask a friend or family member to help out, but that isnít always an option. If you have a big dog that requires a daily walk it isnít always easy to convince your ninety year old neighbor to take on the task. The daily rate for a kennel can often cost you as much as a cheap hotel room.
Enter pet and house sitters. Now thereís the traditional pet and house sitting agency where you get charged a daily rate, but thereís also plenty of house and pet sitters like me who offer their services for free. Why do we do it? Simply because we, like you, love to travel and house sitting helps cut down on our costs as well as yours. (If youíre wondering where to find all of these charitable pet lovers Iíve listed a few of the main websites here.)
Often the service is actually better (Iíll admit I could be biased) as your pet gets individual care and attention as opposed to having that attention shared between all of the other pets at the kennels or cattery. And, having these sitters live in your home means they will help to deter burglars or will fix problems (such as leaky taps) early on Ė all of which saves you money in the long-term.
Be sure to do your research though; check for references and previous experience. House sitting depends a lot on trust and in these kind of situations there are always those that would like to take advantage of that.
Car RentalAs with flights there are plenty of comparison websites out there. Simply enter the dates you need the car for and click the compare button and voilŗ, all of the cheapest options are there before your eyes.
Think thatís it? If youíre a frugal Dougal like myself thatís just the first step.
From there I would look to see if any of these car hire companies or travel comparison websites offer cashback.
What is cashback? Simply put they give you Ďcash backí when you use their service.
Fat Wallet offers cashback on a number of travel websites including Expedia, Orbitz, Cheap Tickets and Hotwire. Their car rental cash back offers can be found here.
FoodFood is another big cost when travelling abroad. Because youíre not on your own territory and donít know whereís cheap, you often end up spending double or three times what you would normally spend on food at home.
Hereís some ways to change that:
Domestic TransportIf youíre travelling within a country, the options are usually flights (same techniques as international flights), rail (there are now rail comparison sites), bus (try cheaper options like Greyhound and Megabus in the UK/US and look for equivalents in the country youíre visiting) and car (car hire has been covered as well).
If youíre travelling within Europe for a number of months an Interrail pass can offer some cost-savings, although I have found this is more suited to Western European countries (France, Spain, Germany etc.). Eastern European rail is already quite cheap.
Other ways to save on travel include road trip car pooling with sites like Share Your Ride or relocating cars or motorhomes. For the second option, this is simply where car or motorhome companies (mainly in Australia and the U.S.) need a vehicle relocated to another part of the country. In return for free transport, you drive the vehicle across the country. Gas and expenses are usually covered, but you will need to double check with the individual company. I have never done this but I know that Stand By Relocations is a good example.
InsuranceAgain, do your research and use the comparison, voucher and cashback sites. You can sometimes get your cover for mere pennies this way, although the insurance companies are starting to get wary of this now.
CruisesA cruise no longer has to be expensive as Erin Gifford has written about previously. Looking at off-speak dates, opting for less popular routes and most importantly keeping your eyes on the latest cruise deals are all essential tips for getting the best price possible.
EntertainmentDepending on where youíre visiting, itís usually possible to find deals on tourist attractions. In most cities, a city pass can offer some decent savings if youíre planning on visiting a number of attractions.
Aside from that, itís best to research online. Fat Wallet has some excellent restaurant and entertainment deals, especially for advanced purchase of tickets for sports games, concerts, theatre and Vegas.
Everything ElseThese were all of the main categories I could think of. Anything else, just ask in the comments and Iím sure someone, or myself, will be able to help out. The travel forums here are also an excellent treasure trove of knowledge.
Having lived in Edinburgh for nearly 5 years, James appears to adopted the thriftiness of the Scots when it comes to travel ☺. You can find him over on Twitter or follow his house sitting blog that he maintains with his partner Jemma.