Being financially independent also means being free to travel anytime you want. Obviously it must be done without impacting your cash flow too much. Here are some tips to achieve that.
- Do your research.
Start planning way in advance. Prepare a spreadsheet with all the expenses (hotels, transportation, meals etc) and see how much the holiday will cost you. When you have a good idea of the cost it is easy to come up with a plan on how to cover those costs. Our favorite way of doing it is to divide the costs by the number of months we have before we have to pay the full amount and start saving that every month. Sometimes you have to prepay for some items, make sure to include those in the spreadsheet and mark them paid as you go.
- Consider shoulder season
In many areas of the world the tourist season is divided in high season, low season and shoulder season in between. In Europe for example shoulder season is March/April and October/November. During shoulder season the weather isn’t too bad, hotels and flights are cheaper, cities are not too crowded with tourists and usually the lines to get into museums or attractions are way way shorter.
- Book early or last minute
Flights are usually cheaper if booked way in advance (6 months to a year in advance) or at the very last minute. If you have the opportunity of taking advantage of this opportunity you can save a lot of money in the flight portion of your trip.
- Off the beaten path
There are many amazing places to visit off the beaten path, that costs a fraction of the well known tourist attractions. In Europe it can be very advantageous to stay in small towns outside the main tourist cities and take a commuter train into town in the morning. In countries like Italy some areas offer farm stay (agriturismo in Italian) usually these farms are quite amazing, cheap and in lovely areas. A quick train ride will take you to the main city to visit.
- Consider all inclusive options
If you have the option of choosing an all inclusive, go for it. This makes budgeting for your trip extremely easy because you do not have to worry about all the extra costs (food, drinks etc.) In Europe usually hotels offer breakfast included but sometime you can choose a second meal included (most often lunch).
In Europe and SouthEast Asia most cities are built on the ocean or very close by. This makes cruising in those area extremely advantageous. Basically all your meals, transportation and entertainment is included in your cruise fare. On top of that you do not have to deal with multiple currency because on board USD is the only currency. You also don’t have to pack and unpack several times, your resort basically takes you to a new destination on a daily basis.
- Use public transit
If you are travelling to a major city familiarise yourself with their public transit system, Check online for timetables, maps and routes. This is not only more efficient (avoid traffic, avoid the need to find a taxi), but it is usually pretty cheap. In most major tourist cities you can buy a transit pass that covers the all day or several days.
- Avoid tourist traps!
When you travel, avoid the major tourist traps, yes the wax museum might seem interesting, but think about you travel halfway around the world to go see an attraction that you can find in every single city of the world? If you decide to do the gondola ride in Venice or the Tuk Tuk in Bangkok (just as an example) ask for the price in advance, you don’t want a big surprise when you arrive. If you decide to bring home some souvenirs, avid gift shops go to a local supermarket you will be able to find the same fridge magnet for a fraction of the price.
- Use social media
Before you go on a trip, especially to a place you have never visited before, check travel groups on Facebook and ask for a recommendation on what to visit, or where to go or how to travel around. People are usually more than happy to give you a lot of tips that will save you time and money.
- Eat like the locals
When you are travelling and you see a restaurant that offers North American food, especially if they have photos, stay away. Those restaurants usually target tourists and the prices are usually way higher than normal. It is also a great idea to try the local food. If a city has a market usually food there is great and affordable.
- Check your travel insurance
Your insurance package with work or your credit card might cover for medical problems while traveling abroad. Always check with your insurer what are the coverage while travelling to avoid surprises. If you don’t have a travel insurance package included, shop around there are several places that offer travel insurance at a very affordable rate.
- Use points
If you can, collect loyalty points with your favourite Airline or with your credit card. This is a great way to save money with flight, car rentals and hotels. The key on using points is to be flexible with your traveling in order to avoid black out dates.
Above all travel safely, enjoy and bring home a lot of fun memories.