Thursday, January 25, 2018

Saving Money for Travel Part 2

I travel to London at least two times a year and other parts of Europe at least once. I will eventually branch into Asia, but I’m still exploring Europe. I also take 3 or 4 stateside trips. Now that I have moved to Washington State, we are right on the Canadian border, why not just stroll over there a couple of times a year as well?


I explained in Part 1, how I can afford to travel. How I save my pennies and the little things I do to save extra money. But what about the actual traveling part? I want to have a nice trip, but I don't want to spend an arm and a leg if I don't have to!

So here are the little things that I do...

                                            BOOKING PLANE TICKETS

When I book plane tickets, I stick with 2 of my favorites. I use Cheapoair to find the best deals across the USA and Skyscanner for the best deals internationally. With Skyscanner you can also sign up for daily email alerts for tickets you want to book. I have seen tickets go down by $500 in one day, so you can jump on tickets that hit a rock bottom price. These are my favorite places to search for tickets, but there are many sites out there. I used many-many sites before I settled on a couple that seemed to bring me the best deals. I have also booked tickets using the apps for both of these sites.
When I’m booking plane tickets, I find that flying on a Tuesday is the cheapest day to travel, it’s also the cheapest day to look for flights. Wednesdays are often good as well, but the closer you fly or search for flights to the weekend, the more flights go up in price. 

Remember to clear your browser history and cookies before you search for your flights. It makes a difference, 

ACCOMMODATION

I don’t usually stay in hotels, though I do from time to time... But mostly, I like being able to cook my own food if I want to (Especially when I travel with my children. I also enjoy shopping for food at local grocery stores and markets, it's another way to experience the culture). When I do book hotels, sometimes I use my air miles, but usually I do a search on Hotels.com ... SO...How do I save on accommodation without using hotels??

*Sometimes I stay with friends. I have met the most amazing people from blogging. You stay with them and return the favor when they want to visit your part of the world!

*Regardless of what accommodation purchased, I find the further away from the city center you go, the cheaper the hotel/airbnb/b&b will be.

*Booking accommodation during the off season, is always cheaper. Sometimes 75% cheaper.

*Airbnb   
If I’m traveling with my children, I will often book an entire flat/house/apartment. However, when my daughter and I went to Paris, we only needed somewhere to sleep for 2 nights, so we rented from a lady that rented rooms to other women only. 
Airbnb has amazing rates all over the world. I had trouble with the plumbing on one rental in London and the owner of the flat refused to help. BUT Airbnb stepped in, found me another rental and even offered to buy us dinner. Keep in mind, whatever communication you have with owners, always do it through the airbnb website or app, this way if there is ever a problem, Airbnb can look at any communication and decide in your favor or that of the owners. That is how I was able to get Airbnb to help me when the owner refused. I used Airbnb in Limerick, London, Paris and Austin. I have always ended up content, I would recommend Airbnb.
*House/Petsit   
The kids and I did this for 2 weeks once, it was actually very relaxing and we spent a lot of time with dogs, cats, rabbits and snakes (though we never actually touched the snakes). The downside to this, can be that you can’t leave the animals for long period of time, people don’t want you to housesit so you can be gone for 12 hours out of the day, and they want their pets well looked after. So we didn’t actually go anywhere in the 2 weeks we pet/housesat, except to buy food. So consider what you want to do, and then set out to find the perfect housesit, I signed up for 2 sites. The site that I paid very little for, was the site I found 2 places to housesit. The site I paid $100 for, landed me zip. 

So how it works?
Well the owners of the home will advertise that they are looking for someone to help them, for a specific amount of time. You apply and tell them you are willing to help. You tell them about yourself, what you do for a living, why you want to housesit for them and so on… and the owner then chooses out of all of the applicants. It’s kind of like a job interview. Some home/pet owners may want to talk to you on the phone, webcam or, some will just be happy to email. I have seen people advertise that they need someone for 2 months or more. Some allow families, some don't. The two sites I used were Housecarers, which is $50 a year for house sitters, but free for the home owner. Trusted Housesitters Costs $119 for the year for both the sitter and house owner. If that sounds expensive to you, consider this... We stayed in a lovely 4 bedroom home for $119, for 2 weeks.
*WWOOF or “WILLING WORKERS ON ORGANIC FARMS” is a way of exchanging work for food and board. Wwoofing is something I wanted to do once or twice with my children. I thought the experience of working on a farm for a short few days would be fun, especially the farms that have animals and their own farmers markets. We actually had a place booked in England, a farm where I would help and the kids could play or hang around the farm. However, Andrew was diagnosed with a dairy allergy before we left for our 2 month UK trip and the farm couldn’t accommodate his allergy, they were accustomed to cooking large amounts of food for many people and this particular farm didn’t take special requests. Many young adults do WWOOF, so do many families. Many people love it. If you’re interested, you pay a small fee to have access to the site, the farmers post and tell you what they are needing, and how many people they need, they will also tell you about accommodation and how much work they need done. You then contact the farmer and tell them you’re interested in the job. You'll be interviewed by the farmer and picked if you’re right for their farm. Remember you are paid in accommodation and food, not wages. And if you plan on volunteering in a foreign country, check the laws, some countries require you to have a volunteer visa. 

There are many ways to save, depending on what you have in mind, where you are and what you're doing during your stay. Unless we're with friends, we don't spend a lot of time in our accommodation anyway, but I think we can all agree, it's still nice to have somewhere comfortable to return to. I don't claim to be an expert of anything, but I love to travel and I like sharing information with fellow explorers. These are just a few things that have worked for me. If you have any suggestions for me, please do share!

                              Good luck on your adventures!
                                          Until next time,
                                             Tammy

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