Whether they’re spending their money on live concerts, nights out or travel, it’s a popular sentiment among millennials that experiences shouldn’t take a back seat to growing their savings accounts. Though frugal and concerned about their futures, millennials value seeing the world up close and in person — which comes at a price.
Luckily, the internet, mobile apps and various companies are making cheap travel more doable. A travel budget comes with a number of components, including transportation costs, lodging expenses and food; so how can millennials satisfy their wanderlust when funds are tight? Here are over 30 savings tips, sites and resources millennials and older generations alike can take advantage of to save on travel costs.
15 Websites for Saving Money on Lodging
Finding an affordable place to stay can be difficult, especially if you’re traveling to a small city or rural area where options are few. Here are a few tips for avoiding hotel costs altogether.
Check for Hotel Alternatives Online
Some travelers couldn’t imagine staying in a hostel, a local’s apartment, camping or sleeping on a stranger’s couch. To save money, though, these options could make that dream trip doable. And if you’re a millennial who’s eager to meet fellow travelers and locals alike, these options might actually be more enriching.
“Believe it or not, hostels are hot right now,” said Nikki Pepper, deputy editor of OhThePeopleYouMeet.com. “Not just a conglomerate of [foreigners] in sleeping bags, hostels are sought out by travelers to meet like-minded people on their journey.”
Here are six sites and services for budget lodging:
- AlltheRooms: This site aggregates hotel rooms, available homes and apartments, hotels, bed and breakfasts, as well as cabins, boats and other alternative accommodations.
- Airbnb: This popular rental site connects travelers with apartments and homes they can rent while in town. The residents of the property vacate the premises in exchange for the money paid.
- Tripping: An aggregate of various rental sites, over 100,000 destinations worldwide can be compared by entering the city, and arrival and departure dates.
- HostelWorld: Much like a hotel booking site, HostelWorld helps travelers compare deals and accommodations at various hostels, as well as book a bed.
- CampAGlam: If you like camping but still want a luxurious experience, this site helps travelers book camping and “glamping” tents, cabins, tree houses, caravans and more.
- Camp In My Garden: The only resource of its kind, Camp In My Garden connects travelers with owners of private gardens to camp in. Available garden camping sites are listed around the world.
House Sit for a Local
If you’d rather have a home to yourself when traveling, a great option is house sitting.
“Millennials can drastically reduce their spending on accommodation costs when they travel by becoming a house sitter and living rent free next time they go abroad,” said Charli Moore, an active traveler. “Choosing to live like a local and take on a few daily tasks in exchange for free accommodation offers a much more immersive cultural experience and drastically reduces the price of international travel.”
There are a number of sites, at various prices of membership, that help connect homeowners with house sitters. Sites are listed from least to most expensive.
- MindMyHouse: At no cost to homeowners, and $20 for house sitters, MindMyHouse connects both parties so those going out of town can find a house sitter to watch their place, while travelers can find comfortable, larger properties to stay in.
- Luxury House Sitting: Sitters pay $25 annually, while homeowners can join this site for free. Sitters are ranked based on past feedback, helping homeowners have peace of mind and information about their sitters.
- HouseCarers.com: Search for homes to sit around the world or find someone to take care of your home through this site. HouseCarers.com costs nothing for homeowners, but $50 annually for sitters, though a free trial is available to receive listings.
- TrustedHousesitters: With a focus on caring for pets, this site connects pet lovers with homes and animals that both require sitting. Stay in fully-equipped homes with pets for $95 annually. A three-month subscription is cheaper if you only want a membership for a short duration, costing $72. This service has the same cost for homeowners annually, but also comes with a one-month plan for $49.99.
Stay With Locals
A great way to make new friends and find the best places to eat, shop and experience is by staying with locals. Here are three sites that will give you an authentic, culturally enriching experience wherever you travel.
- CouchSurfing: The true local experience can be obtained by CouchSurfing. Those who use this site stay with the host and share experiences. Some hosts offer to show their guests around town, while others simply share in an exchange of ideas, stories and experiences.
- Horizon: This iPhone app can take some of the insecurity out of staying with a stranger, as it uses Facebook to connect you through mutual friends and groups to hosts.
- Homestay.com: Another site that connects homeowners with guests, booking through Homestay.com involves staying with a live-in host and building bonds with people around the world.
If you’re eager to travel and are willing to coordinate with others to stay in your home, a home exchange can be a beneficial option. Not only will you have accommodations where you travel, you’ll have someone house sitting for you while you’re away (you might be familiar with the concept if you’ve seen 2006 film “The Holiday”).
These two sites can help you coordinate your home exchange:
- HomeExchange.com: With over 65,000 homes listed, this site helps connect renters and homeowners who can arrange their exchange. Coordinate easily with the site’s live-chat capability.
- Stay 4 Free: For a completely free stay, you can join this site by simply paying for membership. Homes are available in 85 countries, making finding accommodations where you plan to visit simple.
9 Sites for Transportation Savings
It’s one thing to save on your lodging, but you’ll likely need a cost-efficient way to get from point A to point B within your destination. Here are nine options for savings to get to your destination, as well as around once you arrive.
- BlaBlaCar: If you’re traveling to Europe, this ride-sharing option can help connect you with drivers who have a spare seat. Simply put in your pick up and drop off locations, and the site will connect you with drivers listing their upcoming trips.
- Wanderu and BusBud: Planning to travel by bus from one city to another, but unsure about your options and pricing? Both of these sites connect commuters to bus and train operators, helping make the process of comparing costs and options as simple as possible. Wanderu has a number of bus routes in the United States, Canada and Mexico, whereas BusBud can help you book your ride in 89 countries and over 10,000 cities.
- KAYAK, Momondo or SkyScanner: You might have used these travel sites for hotel and flight bookings in the past, but these sites also offer car rental bookings. Compare companies for the best deal.
- Adioso: Say you know you’d like to travel somewhere, but don’t have set dates in mind. Maybe you want to fly to New York on any Friday this month, or travel to Bali in June but don’t care when — Adioso is a travel app and site that allows for flexible flight booking and price comparing so you can find the cheapest time to travel.
- Rome2rio: Want to be able to price compare between a car, airplane, bus, ferry or train? Rome2rio can compare costs for these forms of transportation between any two locations.
- Flightfox: Remember the days of booking a trip through a travel agent? Most millennials don’t. But Flightfox can give you the benefits of an expert to book your flight at the best price. Membership for this service starts at $49.
“I can’t recommend Flightfox enough for finding the best rates on last-minute or complex itineraries, such as redeeming airline miles, multi-city trips, or international flights,” said David Feldsott, founder and CEO of PanTrek Inc. He shared this experience:
“A few months ago, I needed to book a last-minute trip from La Paz, Bolivia to Washington, D.C. The cheapest one-way flight I could find on my own was through Kayak.com for over $800. This seemed pretty outrageous, so I contacted Flightfox’s travel experts to see if they could do better. After paying the $49 fee, I was connected to an expert named Tomas. I told him what I wanted, including available travel dates, which airports I needed to fly from and into, and other preferences and he came back a few hours later with various options for me, including a flight for only $405. Even including the $49 fee, I still saved over $350 on my flight!”
3 Resources for Frequent Flyers
If you’re a frequent traveler and tend to travel by plane, you should take advantage of these three sites for great deals, insider savings tips and forums to communicate with other travelers about the best offers available.
- The Points Guy: This blog covers deals, best credit cards for travelers and topics based on destination.
- Flyer Talk: A forum site that helps connect readers to information and to other travelers, you can browse queries and find out about specific issues you might not have considered for your trip.
- The Flight Deal: Does it sound possible to travel from Philadelphia to Copenhagen for just $142? It is, according to a flight listing on this site. Browse deals and other relevant information for the air traveler.
4 Ways to Save on Food
If you’re a foodie, dining out might be a non-negotiable for you, or if you’re backpacking and staying in hostels cooking might not be a viable option. Here are some suggestions for how to save money on food and dining costs while traveling.
Stick With Food Trucks and Markets
Compared to restaurants, street food bought from food trucks and open markets will offer eclectic local fair at a lower cost. According to Feldsott, there isn’t a website or app that aggregates food markets or best local food trucks, but it’s easy enough to find a listicle on the internet that details your options at your destination.
If your travel plans consist of backpacking through remote areas, WWOOFing might be an option for you. Organizations associated with WWOOF help volunteers connect with opportunities on organic and sustainable farms. In exchange for the volunteer’s work, he receives food, accommodations and lessons in agriculture.
Use TripAdvisor or Medellín Guide
TripAdvisor does, in fact, offer its readers a restaurant guide, which can help locate the fare you desire at a cost you can afford. Another option is the Medellín Guide mobile app, which features restaurants and other attractions around the world even when Wi-Fi is disabled.
5 Best Sites for Tours and Activities
Once you arrive at your destination, it might be difficult to get the most out of your time there without a tour or planned events to attend. If you want to roam the city but would also like to enjoy planned events with other travelers, check out these sites for tour and activity bookings.
- Vayable: Current activities for booking include The Louvre in an hour, a food tour in Rome, a Paris photography walking tour and a New York City street food crawl at midnight.
- Viator: With tours and excursions available both domestically and internationally, travel with confidence through the Great Wall of China or see the Grand Canyon from a helicopter above.
- G Adventures: With tours based on preferred travel style (styles listed on the site include active, comfortable, local living and marine), you can pick activities and options that fit your preferences. Tour are even available for families, and “Yolo tours” for young adults between the ages of 18 and 39. These options can help you connect with other, like-minded individuals who are also traveling.
- Intrepid Travel and Gogobot: Pick between the themes of family, food, sailing, wildlife and polar, among others, and your country of choice and get a vacation that satisfies both your desire to see a particular country and your favorite hobbies.
“Gogobot’s mission is to help people discover great places to stay, eat and play that are perfect for them,” said Krista Canfield, vice president of corporate communications at Gogobot. “19 Tribes (Family Travelers, Foodies, LGBT, etc.) help Gogobot members get personalized recommendations.”
Budgeting Your Trip
Upfront costs are easy enough to navigate when booking tours, flights and lodging, but it can be easy to get ahead of yourself and your savings once you’re at your destination. Between souvenirs, food, and other miscellaneous costs, it can be difficult to keep track of spending — especially if you lack a computer or other technology to track your credit card expenses.
Consider using site BudgetYourTrip.com to keep track of your expenses once you reach your destination. The site also helps visitors plan their trips and factor in all costs, which can usually be vague or intangible until your arrival.