Tickets for pretty much any mode of transportation are likely going to be your biggest cost of traveling, so it's important to know which websites to use and which airlines to fly to get your best priced tickets.
I found that Google Flight Search , Momondo, and Indie were helpful in that they offer you the ability to type in different locations of where you plan on traveling to and then they do the hard work for you- finding the cheapest flights between your defined locations. Your best bet is if you have a flexible schedule. It then maximizes your ability to fly on days that are cheapest.
Some tips while you are looking at flights.
- Trial a couple different sites and compare and see what works best for you. You may find different results on different sites or it may confirm that the prices you found are indeed the lowest priced tickets
- Booking flights with multi-city/stop tickets as a bundle may save you a lot of money, or it may cost you. Try looking up up flights separately and combined to make sure you're not missing out on the best deal. For example, when I was traveling to Italy, I found that a lot of flights stopped in Lisbon. So I figured, "Why not have a couple day layover in Lisbon instead of sitting at an airport for 18 hours?" When I searched on Google Flight Search for just New York to Lisbon, the price was around $308. But when I did a mulitfare ticket and plugged in NY to Lisbon, Libson to Rome, the cost was $247 for both flights. However, I've also had success by finding some flights alone (Ex: Chicago to New York) instead of including it in the bundle deal (Ex: New york to Copenhagen to Rome would have cost me $385 together while separate flights totaled only $170).
- When using search engines instead of going to certain airlines directly, make sure you're checking which airline you're flying and look further into what their extra expenses might be (Ex: cost of checked bag or carry on bag). I've gotten screwed on tickets thinking they're cheap and then ended up paying another $100 in getting my bags there.
Buses and Trains
If flights are still too expensive or depending on your location, not feasible, taking a bus or train is another option. In fact, I have done a lot of traveling with different bus and train systems. Trains are wonderful but I've found that buses tend to be the cheaper option. While in Europe, I utilized GoEuro as a resource to compare different buses and trains for various locations. Buses are typically coach buses and offer free wifi which is a nice plus.
Finding accommodations in new cities can be one of the most expensive parts of traveling. But it doesn't have to be. These are some of the options we used to make this component of traveling as cheap as possible.
- Air B&B is brilliant. People rent out their homes/apartments/condos for a wide range of prices- and you usually can always find something much cheaper than a hotel. I've never been concerned about safety as there are reviews that people can post about the host and their stay with Air B&B. My first Air B&B experience was in Cancun, Mexico with my best friend Kristen. We rented from a lady who has a total of around 8 condos in Cancun and rents these out for a living. She was wonderful- provided us with information on the city, places to go, things to see, free wifi, and even printed our boarding passes for us for the morning of our departure. Per night, the condo cost around 60$, so for three nights, the two of each only paid 90$.
- Another site very similar to Air B&B. VRBO: Vacation rentals by owners. Same concept as Air B&B. Beautiful rental homes, for relatively cheap
- Work away is a mixture of everything you can think of where an individual or family needs a volunteer. This includes help on organic farms, assistance with hostels/hotels, serving as an au pair, teaching different languages, helping develop more sustainable eco-systems, utilizing technology to help advance business, and many more. Simply create a profile , which is very reasonably priced, and search countries you would like to visit and see what volunteer opportunities there are. In exchange for your time with them, you receive a free place to stay and meal coverage. So although you're not making any money, this is a very financially smart way to travel.
- Hostels sometimes get a bad rep thanks to the horror film Hostel which is extremely unfortunate. Hostels are an awesome opportunity to meet other people and be in a community of travelers. People often have the idea that you'll be stuck in a big bunk room with a bunch of strangers, but more often than not, I found that myself and others I traveled with usually had rooms to ourselves (depends mostly on the city and time of year/days of the week that you're traveling.) Obviously, some safety concerns if you're sharing rooms with strangers but its common sense- keep your most personal belongings with you when you're out and about in the city. A lot of hostels even provide safes and keys to keep your most valued items. And of course, a huge perk is that hostels are very cheap in comparison to staying in hotel.
- A little bit bigger of a commitment here, but if you're looking to stay in a country or city for longer than a couple of weeks, maybe consider being an Au Pair. An Au Pair is defined as domestic assistant from a foreign country working for, and living as a part of, a host family. This usually means that you'll be involved in some house hold work and/or childcare in exchange for a place to stay, meals, and even sometimes pocket change. A couple different websites out there for making your own profile and finding a family who matches your preferences. Other programs are designed to have you apply, pay a fee, and then they match you to a family. Although this is a little more expensive, there are benefits to this as well (confirmed placement, insurance, more financial coverage, etc).
- Au Pair World
- Au Pair Care
- Exactly how it sounds. Sitting for someones house while they're away. They're usually not paid stays and often require some work around the house whether this be cleaning, home maintenance, watching animals. But it's a free place to stay in a real home- doesn't get much better than that. A couple different websites are available to post your abilities to serve as a house sitter. There is usually a fee and varies from site to site so I would check out a couple before making a commitment.
- Trusted House Sitters
- Mind My House
- WWOOF: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Organic farms around the world need your help. Visiting their website, you can find that almost every country has Organic farms and famers who are in need of extra hands. You create a profile and search a county and it's list of host farms. Each countries specific page is a bit different- some more clear than others. To be able to message them directly, you do have to pay a small fee for each country that you choose to WOOF in. Most sites will offer you a sneak peak at what their host list looks like so you can get an idea before paying their fee. In exchange for WOOFing, you receive a free place to stay and meals. If you're at all interested in learning the true lay of the land of a new country, this is an excellent opportunity for you.