FAQ About Budget Travel

Frequently asked questions about budget travel apply to everyone as no matter if you are staying in a hostel or luxury hotel you want to pay as little as possible. So here are some of the FAQ  budget travel questions. Pay less and get more when traveling!

Is there a right time to book a flight to get the lowest price?

Yes. For US domestic flights book 3-1 month in advance. For international flights book 5-1 month in advance. Flights from the UK are cheapest when booked 1.5 months in advance. Start inquiring about ticket prices on Tuesday afternoon and book on Wednesday morning just after midnight in the time zone where the airline is based. If you are booking a flight for a peak season like Christmas you will have to book further in advance for good deals. Last-minute bookings are usually not the cheapest. I find that booking 6-3 weeks in advance is cheapest for me but each destinations and each airline is different.

Is it cheaper to fly on certain days of the week?

Yes. Cheapest flight days for US domestic flights are days when other people don’t want to travel – Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Also choose times and days when other travelers won’t want to travel like red-eye flights, dinner time flights and Christmas Day. The most popular times for flights (which you should avoid) are booked by people flying home/away for the weekend and returning from a weekend. There are cheaper months to fly – usually when the weather is at its worst in your travel destination.

How can I get the cheapest air ticket?

Compare prices. Book at least 3 weeks before departure; set up flight alerts on websites; fly on mid-week or Saturday night flights; don’t order an in-flight meal; have flexible travel dates; travel with only hand-luggage; don’t pre-select your airplane seat; travel in the off-season and shop around online for the cheapest offers. I find that the travel search sites like Kayak don’t list all airlines. It is best to check the websites of your local airlines and the national airline of your destination as well as travel search sites. Some countries have low-cost airlines which are not advertised internationally. Check prices for flights to nearby airports rather than the main airport at your destination. Take connecting flights with layovers.

What is the cheapest way from the airport to the city?

Usually metro or bus is cheapest and usually a taxi is the most expensive option. The exception is when you are traveling with others and can split the cost of the taxi.

What hostel or hotel is cheapest?

Hostels and hotels which are further from the city center are cheaper. You can also find cheap accommodation near railway stations and airports. Staying in a hostel dorm is usually the cheapest way to go. Camping and couchsurfing are also cheap options. If you are traveling with a friend or even three friends you can share a hotel room and split the cost. If the worst comes to the worst there is always the option of sleeping in an airport, train station or bus station(airports are best). Another option is to take an overnight train to your next destination and sleep on the train – transport and accommodation for one price! Some hotel booking sites are cheaper than others. I recommend Hotels Combined which has never failed to find me cheap accommodation in great hotels.

What tricks are there for paying less at a hotel?

Travel in the off-season; share a room with a friend and don’t include breakfast. Use a good hotel booking site. Hotel booking sites are usually cheaper than the actual hotel’s website. You can stay in a better room than the one you paid for by writing ahead and telling the hotel it is a special occasion (“I’ll be staying with my husband for our anniversary”) and asking for a free upgrade when you check in. Book the cheapest room of an expensive hotel then ask for an upgrade.

Are city tourist Travel Cards worth it?

Sometimes. You have to actually sit down with a calculator and see if you will be able to justify the cost of the card. Will you be able to see enough of the free attractions to meet the cost of the card? Don’t be fooled by the “60 free attractions” because the card is for 1 day – so how many of the 60 attractions will you be able to visit in that time? Remember some cards are for 24 hours and others are per “day.” Your card is “activated” the first time you use it so if it is a “day” card and your start using it at 3pm your “day”  will be over at midnight. If it is a 24 hour card then even if it is activated at 3pm you will still be able to use it until 3pm the next day.

What is the cheapest way to get around when on vacation?

Public transport. Within a city the cheapest way to get around is on foot or using public transport. Check if the city has a “10 rides” ticket or a “day ticket” where you get unlimited travel for a day. Most large cities have a Smart Card which can be reloaded with credit which is deducted each time you make a journey. Sit with your itinerary and calculate where you need to go and if the day ticket, 10 ride ticket or Smart Card will be better value for you. I prefer to buy a day card and plan to make as many trips in that one day. The Smart Card is convenient to use and you usually get a discount but I couldn’t be bothered with ordering it online, loading it with credit and returning the card for a refund. If traveling with friends and if visiting several cities a rental car is best but not if you will be staying in one city.

What attractions are free?

Parks, beaches, libraries, pubs, street entertainers, malls and admiring historic streets and buildings from the outside is free. Often museums are free on one day a week or a month. You can find pay-by-tip walking tours in most cities. Local festivals and public celebrations are a great way to meet locals and get some free entertainment. Always ask at attractions for discounts if you are disabled, a senior citizen, a student, child or in a group.

What’s the cheapest way to eat on vacation?

Buy at a supermarket and make your own sandwiches or cooked meals if you have a kitchen. Second choice is to eat at restaurants in residential neighborhoods away from the tourist areas. Sometimes you only have to go one street away from the main tourist drag to find cheaper restaurant prices.

Where can I find cheap souvenirs?

Not in souvenir stores. Find original, authentic local items in market. Go to markets where the locals shop and buy things which might seem every-day items for locals but symbolize the location. For example a falafel maker in Israel, a face mask in Beijing, a snow sledge in Norway or a shot measure in Finland. I like to buy practical items that I will use at home and be reminded of my trip.


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2 Responses to FAQ About Budget Travel

  1. Rosana Hart August 3, 2016 at 5:54 pm #

    Your comment about Christmas Day being unpopular reminded me of the time I flew from Phiadelphia to LA on Christmas Day, I think on United but I don’t remember for sure, this was many years ago! But the fun thing was that on the huge plane there were only about half a dozen passengers! We got great treatment from the crew and had time to chat with them about their work.

  2. Gavin August 4, 2016 at 8:26 am #

    Great post. I am starting to appreciate the timing of booking international flights it makes such a difference in the price.

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