The travel industry is an extremely fast moving one, and, as anyone who is familiar with booking flights or making reservations knows, prices vary widely. Some price fluctuation is for obvious, seasonal reasons; while at other times it seems that fares and fees change for no reason at all. Here some tips on discount travel:
The Direct Route Isn’t Always the Cheapest
In many cases there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how airfares work. There are seasonal changes, time of day changes, variations depending on demand, and then what seems like changes for no reason at all. When searching for discount airfares, look at alternate routes to get where you want to go. In many cases, a combination of 2 flights can be cheaper than one flight.
This usually works by taking advantage of very cheap domestic flights within the USA. For example, a return flight from New York to Montreal, Canada, which is a trip just over an hour, usually costs around $300. For the roughly the same price you can find return flight from New York to Los Angeles. The point is that for reasons have to do with traffic, regulations, and taxes, domestic flights are radically cheaper then international ones, mile for mile.
So depending where you want to go, you may find your airfare is much cheaper if you’re willing to make a domestic flight first, before switching to an international one. If you live in the northern United States, for example, and want to go to Latin or South America, it will often be much cheaper to first take a domestic flight to a southern hub like Miami or Dallas and then fly further south from there, as opposed to taking a long flight directly from a northern city. When exploring multiple flights, also keep in mind how close you are to a major airline hub – it will be much more expensive to fly internationally directly from a smaller city then to fly to a major hub first.
In many cases if you’re willing to put up with the slight inconvenience of two flights, discount travel can be yours. Just remember that as it stands most discount flight websites don’t search for flights in this way, so you’ll have to do some creative thinking on your own.
An often overlooked key to discount travel is food costs, which can be drastically reduced by shopping in local supermarkets rather than dining out. Most places you stay will take advantage of tourists as much as possible, and you often don’t realize until you do some currency conversion that you’re paying $10 for a bad breakfast at your hotel. Instead, buy some healthy snakes and fresh food from a market to eat during your outings. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you have to cook – it just means you should grab something fresh that you can eat on the go instead of stopping for lunch at a touristy restaurant.
Look Into Renting an Apartment
If you’re considering a long stay in a city, look into renting an apartment. This is usually much cheaper than even the cheapest of hostels, and is a tried and tested method of those interested in discount travel. Many countries that receive an influx of North American tourists have a cottage industry of people renting their apartments for a short time.
Unlike North America, where it is difficult to rent an apartment for less than a few months, in many foreign countries you’ll find apartments for rent for times that are as short as 2 weeks. Even the cheapest of hotel accommodations is likely going to be more expensive than a short term apartment rental.
This is probably the most important concept overall in terms of discount travel. The entire travel industry is basically geared towards charging people for comfort and convince and if there are a lot of particular things that you want to do and see you will no doubt spend more money while traveling.
If you’re willing to be more flexible, however — if you’re willing to be more interested in traveling to, say, “South America” as opposed to a particular country in South America, you’ll be privy to massive savings. While, granted, not everyone is in a position to do this, if you can be flexible and open to new things in regards to your destinations you have the option of taking whatever is cheap, and you will often save lots of money.
When you travel, the most expensive part of your trip is usually just that: travel. This doesn’t mean simply the flight to your destination, but also the traveling you want to do once you get there. Bus trips, car rentals and train tickets will always be relatively expensive, and when you’re on the go you also tend to spend more on food and accommodation.
Many travelers arrive in a foreign land with a long inflexible itinerary of things they want to do and places they want to see that has them on buses and trains nonstop. In terms of discount travel, consider the value of staying put for while. Not only you will experience huge savings on transportation and accommodation, but there’s a good chance you’ll have a more interesting and valuable experience.