Know Your Comfort Level
What are you willing to do to make travel possible? If your idea of holiday is limited to five star resorts and first class flights, you probably won’t be able to afford to go on vacation very long or very often. But if you are willing to venture outside the box and crash on a couch or hitch a ride or volunteer your time for room and board, you’ll be able to stretch your dollar a lot further.
You don’t have to be comfortable with everything, but know that there are opportunities available beyond the scope of your typical travel mindset that might be worth exploring. And understand that there’s a scale between couch-surfing and five star hotels. Even a small adjustment of one or two notches to a budget hotel, a hostel, or Air B n’ B can add up to significant savings.
Reach Out to Friends, Family, Even Distant Acquaintances
In my experience, people are always happy to play host or hostess; no matter how well or how little they know you. Last time I was in Vegas I saw two shows on the strip for free. One was the Cirque show “Love” courtesy of a former coworker from 6 years ago. The other was from a friend of my boyfriends’ who was just getting into producing in Vegas.
A quick Facebook message to someone I met once 15 years before got me free housing and dinner when I was visiting Davis, California. An email to my childhood babysitter (I’m talking pre 5 years old) secured me a place to stay in Seattle, plus a free tour and a long overdue reunion. The examples of freebies and opportunities to connect or reconnect with people I haven’t seen in years are endless. Those travel connections often shape up to be the best experiences of all.
Plan Around Obligations
Most of my travel has been planned around work and weddings. If I’m already required to be somewhere, I look for ways to capitalize on that opportunity, particularly if it’s already being subsidized by work.
For example, I was doing a show in Manila, Philippines for two months. While I was there, I had four days off, so I took my per diem and flew to a beautiful tropical island called Boracay. If I had taken that trip from NYC it would have cost me thousands, but by taking advantage of my work location and circumstances, 4 days of lounging, eating, and drinking on the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen cost me a grand total of $200. Same story in Brazil. I was already in Rio for work, all expenses paid, so spending $200 out of my own pocket to hang glide over the Copacabana was a no brainer.
Weddings require a little more out of pocket investment; but if I’m already spending the money to fly or drive to the locale, I might as well save up a little extra and make a trip out of it.
One of my best friends got married in Colorado Springs a few years ago. As a New Yorker, that was quite the trip. So rather than turning around to fly back the next day, some fellow attendees and I toured Yellowstone, Big Sky, The Grand Tetons, and flew out of Jackson Hole a week later.
If you can train yourself to find travel and savings opportunities at every turn, you’ll be amazed at how far you can go on a limited budget.
How do you save on travel?