I’m a single mom of two kids, and in the past nine years, my kids and I have traveled to a dozen states and four countries. As you could imagine, this could have cost us a fortune, but we did it without spending much at all.
Whether you’re considering solo travel, a couples getaway or fun for the whole family, the same cost-effective rules apply. So, here are my top tips for getting the best deal on your next trip.
Click through to read more about real people sharing their money-saving travel tips.
Build Travel Around Deals
A couple of months ago, my kids and I traveled to Vietnam from our home in New York City for 13 days, for a total of $3,000. How? I noticed some very cheap airline tickets from NYC (where we live) to Ho Chi Minh City. Why Vietnam? At that price, why not? My favorite way to keep track of airline deals is by browsing daily sites Secretflyer.com and NextVacay.com, the latter of which charges you a one-time fee for email alerts to incredible airline deals.
Travel to Inexpensive Places
In Vietnam, we stayed at numerous very nice hotels, our favorite being the La Casa Beach Resort on Phu Quoc Island. Our very large room featured a shower with an outdoor garden. A short hibiscus-lined path led us to a beautiful pool and an outdoor pagoda. Oh, and we got all this for a total of $60 per night. The low hotel prices are attributed to Vietnam being a developing country.
Eat Like a Local
While staying at the hotel, we enjoyed an incredible local breakfast every day. My favorite meal during that vacation though was an 80-cent bowl of pho eaten on a canoe, purchased hot and fresh from a restaurant boat run by a single elderly woman in the middle of a floating river market. Less than a dollar for an amazing experience and delicious food.
It’s not just that Vietnam is a developing country; we also got low prices because we chose off-season travel. By visiting in low season (spring), we saved a bundle — and it was just as fun and beautiful as it would have been in the popular travel months.
I’ve been road-tripping with my kids since they were 3 and 5. Some moms successfully do this with even younger kids. My advice: frequent stops, audiobooks and podcasts, lots of in-car snacks and no devices. Read more of my road-trip tips for single parents here on my blog, Wealthysinglemommy.com.
Visit Friends and Family
Keep your visit to two to three days, and you will be welcome again. Bring a gift, take your hosts to dinner (or offer to cook them a meal), don’t expect to be entertained and pick up after yourself. I have loved ones all over the country and found that road-tripping to see them is an affordable way to see the country, stay connected to people in our lives and snag an insider tour guide wherever we land.
Be Smart About It: Money Mistakes I Made on My Camper Van Road Trip
If that doesn’t work for you, ask people you know if they’d like to offer up their homes for pet- and plant-sitting while they’re away. For example, my single-mom friend Valerie lets my kids and I stay at her lovely Chicago condo each summer while she travels the world with her daughter. We feed her cat, water her ficus, and try to leave it as tidy as we found it.
When I go away, I offer up my home to friends who might enjoy an inexpensive New York City vacation with free accommodation in exchange for keeping our fat ginger cat and my collection of succulents alive. Good vibes ensue.
Focus Your Credit Card Points on a Travel Card
I have an excellent business card that provides double and triple points in categories I spend a lot in (like social media ads), and gives a 50 percent bonus when using points on travel. I also only focus on accumulating frequent flyer miles on Delta, which makes sense since we frequently use the shuttle to see family in Chicago. It also saves me time and mental space from trying to maximize points with different carriers.
Click through to read more about how a family of five traded normal life for a year-long globe-trot.
More From Our Smart Money Squad:
- Work and Play: 4 Ways to Actually Make Money While Traveling
- Lengthy Layover? How to Turn One Trip Into Two
- One Mom’s Genius Tips for Making Summer Fun Super Cheap
- Watch: How This Travel Blogger Saves Big During ‘Shoulder Season’
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