Everyone seems to want to offer advice about how to travel cheaply by getting discounted hotel rooms or earning airline miles without flying. While a few people might actually have useful, applicable information about traveling cheaply, most are just offering hype.
There are a few realistic options for people who are living on tight budget but still want to travel. While you should not expect a totally free trip, you can take steps to cut costs and make your trip more affordable.
Travel during “shoulder season”
One often-overlooked option involves traveling just before or after a destination’s high season. For tropical destinations in Mexico or the Caribbean, that usually means May or late September and October. Hotel rates and airfares are usually at their lowest points during these months so you will get the lowest prices of the year.
Use a miles-earning credit card
If managed very carefully, a credit card could help pay for your trip. Only spend what you can afford to pay off each month. If you carry a balance, the interest charges will cancel out any savings earned in the form of airline miles. If you can pay off the balance, this is a good way to earn enough miles to help pay for your trip. For most people, however, earning enough for a totally free trip will take several years.
Last minute deals
If you can afford to travel on short notice, you can try to find cheap “last minute deals.” They are not as widespread as you might think, but they are available, especially for Caribbean cruises and all-inclusive resorts. If you get a cruise package, make sure it includes both airfare and cruise.
Stay in a business hotel, not a tourist hotel
If you are traveling to a city, you may be able to find great weekend deals at a hotel that caters to businesspeople. These hotels are filled during the week, but empty on the weekends. You can take advantage of the low occupancy to get an inexpensive rate.
Travel in a group
If you have a group of people, you may be able to rent a house or condo on Airbnb and split the cost. While larger apartments or villas are more expensive than standard hotel rooms, they are often able to accommodate more people, so the rate will actually be quite cheap on a per-person basis.
Pay it off later
If none of these travel hacks work for you, it may be possible to simply pay for your trip over time. You could apply for an online personal loan to cover the cost of the vacation and then pay the loan back in the following months. These loans are easy to apply for, and the money is quickly deposited in your bank account. You can then use it to purchase your hotel and/or airfare.