Traveling tips are never ending! This year, I have been fortunate enough to daydream and plan for Hawaii in March, Las Vegas in June and Denver in September…. Now we’re daydreaming of abroad trips! However, with all this travel talk, and our being able to travel this year, I have been able to wrack up my own top traveling tips and filter out the more reasonable tricks for you for budget, packing and preparing.
My Top Traveling Tips for Budgeting
Compare prices and comfort level for a hotel or Airbnb. This cost can be flexible and convenient because you can book ahead of time- before you even save up for the other items even! I use my miles balance and some cash to book our hotels– as opposed to using my Alaska Air miles to buy flight tickets.
And I use Airbnb to sift through to find more affordable lodging. My filters depend on where we’re going and for how long, but I typically look for a GOOD kitchen so that we can cook and save on food/dining, AC and/or heating (like when we go to Cancun next year, AC is a must!), washer and dryer (so we can pack less). When budgeting for accommodations, I look at the total cost. For the Cancun trip that I am planning, I have decided to do no more than than $800 for 9 nights and 10 days.
Additional Note- When looking at Airbnb, book while you’re on a laptop or web browser. On the App it doesn’t show if there is that additional Occupancy Tax and Fees. I was finding some places that were listed as $850-920 “Total” on the app but once I checked on the browser, there was an additional $158 occupancy fee…
You could also stay with friends or family – like we did when we went to Hawaii.
One of the trickiest things I have budgeted for while traveling. Of course, if it is possible and reasonable, pack some of your favorite, easy to pack food items. For Las Vegas, I packed my Thrive Market WildZola hot cereal. We bought some bananas later at a Target on The Strip and I was able to have banana and hot cereal for breakfast.
RoundTable App- I have used RoundTable to gauge the costs of dining locations in Hawaii and Las Vegas. I looked for $ and $$ and read reviews and checked their menu! Then it makes it easier to see if you really want to go to such and such place. (BONUS TIP- look for the lowest star reviews too. Sometimes it is informative to see what went wrong and then decide if it is a reasonable risk to take or not to take). Found Lava Java that way! (Look below)
When we went to New Mexico in 2015, I/we made the mistake of going to places like Olive Garden or eating at the zoo/aquarium for most of the weeklong trip. We had to take taxis a lot! And that adds to the “Food Budget” plus taxes plus tips…. Then on the last night of the trip! We found this nice 1950s Diner that was amazing and a 20 minute walk from the motel, and affordable.
If you choose a VRBO, pick one that has a full or mostly full kitchen. That way you can take a trip to a grocery store, Target, Farmers Market or whatever is close to get what you need for the duration of the trip. I was reading a blog post forever ago, and found that there is a website called Numbeo. Type in the destination and you can compare certain living expenses in the area. Then you can get an idea about how much items like gas, milk, chicken, bread, etc. cost in their currency and your currency. I am getting a little bit obsessed with figuring out how much to budget for a trip.
I have been using Hopper and Expedia to compare costs for abroad. We’ve also been considering seeing European countries via a cruise- that way food and “hotel” is paid for in 1 base cost (cruise tickets) and we use vacationstogo.com to explore price options. Airfare is surprisingly cheap/affordable when you’re going abroad! I have been able to find tickets to Ireland and Germany and Greece for less than $500 Roundtrip PER PERSON! Talk about happy day dreaming!
I like to use Hopper and Expedia at the same time because Hopper shows which months and dates are most affordable in a color format, and then I look at it on Expedia for that month to confirm, and then compare to Hopper again- whichever price is cheapest is the source I will use to book flights.
I also use my valid Companion Airfare discount from my Alaska Airline credit card. Every year, I have a Buy One, Get Companion Fare for $99. Cancun in January has been the most affordable option for flights, but Kyler’s education needs to take priority, so a May-July (super hot) time frame is looking to be roughly $940 for 2 people with Alaska Air, 10 hour flying day. ….I am happy with that!
The cost of gas during your traveling adventures will vary based on if it is a road trip, if you’re renting a car, or if you are doing long distance recreation during your vacation. Gas prices for road trips is a slightly different affair, they are always changing so you need to think about that, and consider how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets. Gas prices for non-road trip adventures, should also involve the Car Rental factor budget- again, check out Numbeo to see how much gas will cost in that area and then save up for that estimated expense.
My good friend, Cindy, recommends that you consider doing a little bit of both rental transportation, walking, and public transportation. When we were in Las Vegas, we relied solely on walking and Lyft- a pleasant surprise was when I got 5% cash back on every Lyft drive!
Try your best to research the free activities or the costs of activities like museums. You can’t know what to save up or budget for if you don’t know the actual costs of things like museums, park tickets, etc.
My Top Traveling Tips for Preparing
Research, Research, Research!
Try not to get obsessed like I have been known to do, but Pinterest is a well of knowledge. Everyone is sharing their experiences about their travels, and stories, and their top traveling tips and favorite products… It is good to get an understanding for your budget and what to expect for certain destinations like cost of tickets, activities, weather, food etc.
I am an overpacker. And I am sure that you read that sentence all over whenever you’re looking up travel tips. Maybe it is a woman thing… I like to know that I have everything that I could use, meanwhile, My husband pack at last minute. What I started doing is sharing a checked back with him and when we went to Vegas we shared one carryon for 5 days. I use packing cubes, practice pack AND I have been packing my stuff in a laundry basked PRE-TRIP. I do a first run for what I want/need, then I put everything into a laundry basket, add things or take things out between now and later, then pack 2 days before we leave. This helped a lot for our Hawaii trip and I didn’t overpack.
The only way you can budget is if you know what things actually cost. Then start working out how much and when you want to pay for the expense. Do your research on apps like Hopper, Expedia, Airbnb and then start coming up with an idea of how much your trip could cost, how much you’re willing to pay and how much you need to save up for each of the big costs like airfare/gas, car rental, and accommodations.
I am daydreaming about abroad locations and that calls for the need for passports. Get your passports taken care of 6 months before you want to leave. If there are other things that you need to get taken care of for certain countries, look that up!
Top Traveling Tips for Packing
I am getting used to thinking about capsule wardrobes when it comes to traveling. I am a big fan of it for traveling- not so much when it is my day-to-day routine.
Pro-Capsule Wardrobe– Eliminates indecision and overpacking.
Con-Capsule Wardrobe– I live in Montana and work from home. That means that winters go all the way down to -50 degrees without windchill in the winter. And up to 100 degrees in the summer.
Start any capsule wardrobe by thinking about your activities, length of stay, weather, how you’re getting to your destination (ie. driving or flying), favorite colors/colors that blend well together, and making sure all your pieces can mix and match. If a pair of shorts only pairs with one shirt, nix it.
Don’t Skimp So Much on Toiletries
It is very important not to overpack on toiletries, but there are many essentials that you need not just for everyday occurrences, but things to anticipate. Unless you don’t mind using hotel shampoo, body wash, etc, bring your own in the TSA bottles. Don’t skimp on how much facial cleansing products you bring- you might be on vacation but it’s not like your skin and acne know that.
Bring a smaller hairbrush- that is an easy compromise. Anticipate the need for items like sunscreen, aloe vera, upset tummies, and headaches.
Consider the Weather and Activities
Since we live in Montana, my travels have been to hot places like Hawaii and Vegas so that I can soak up sunshine during the winter and early summer months. Winter lasts from October-June, but June is mostly wet and gray… So I pack shorts, tops, rompers and dresses for my destinations. I packed my black romper for Las Vegas and wore is so many times during the 5 day trip! Typically used it for dressing up with a cardigan at a restaurant and for my evening outfits after getting all hot and sweaty during our walks. I had a moisture wicking sports bra on for our walking of The Strip, and I was so glad that I wasn’t all gross and clammy in that area!
Final Thoughts on My Top Traveling Tips
The best part of all these tips is that you can mix and match these advice, weed through the ones you do’t need and look through my Travel board to see if I missed anything, or need to look up by destination. I have sections on Ireland, Scotland, England, Peru, Mexico and more!
Don’t forget that you can pay for the costs of some of these trips ahead of time- or in other words, save up for one expense at at time. So you can batch save for the trip: buy tickets after 3 months, book hotel stays 4 months later, save for food, car rental/transportation and activities the entire time.
You can also work on packing with several different ways and prepare for any destination by budgeting and researching!
These are all My Travel Tips in one pace!
What are your top travel tips?