Travel Advise 102

24 September 2012

While the first travel advice I gave was mostly on how to travel mostly via air, this time around I hope to give a few tips on how to travel overall.

Tip #6: Know when to go!

I know may people have limited travel schedules because of work and school. However, a well used “sick day” or planned travel can not only make for a more enjoyable trip, but a cheaper one as well. When it comes to travel, it really comes down to where and when you want to go. Personally, I would never travel between August 1st and Labor Day as these travel days are when a majority the world has holiday and most places will be charging high season rates.

There are a few sweet spots I have found around the world during the year for international travel. Heading to Europe in late January and early February may not seem ideal weather-wise, but with the round-trip airfare to London, Paris, etc. being only around $500, I’d just pack a rain jacket. Wanting to hit the beaches in the Caribbean? Any time between July and October you will see airfares and accommodation cut in half. Just be prepared for a change of plans, because the reason for this drop in prices is that you’ll be dealing with the heat and hurricane season.

I could spend an entire post spelling out different times that work best for places around the world, but the easiest way it to travel is figure out when it’s there off-season and then cross your fingers that weather and closures will not effect you too much. Yes, if you are a neurotic planner and don’t deal with change easy, this might not be the best idea. However, if you are looking to save large chunks of cash on multiple parts of your trip, plan to go at the most obscure times possible.

Tip #7: Pack Small and Simple

I know packing is a hot topic, especially when it comes to women (sorry, but it’s usually true). However, it’s no longer people over-packing for travel, but simply trying to fit everything into a carry on, because it’s free. In fact, smart packing starts a few days before you even pack for your actual trip.

Shoes vary from person to person, and from male to female. Nonetheless, I found that spending money on a decent pair of “dressy sneakers” made for a single pair of go-to shoes from everything from business casual meetings to a night on the town while traveling. In fact, they were the only shoes I brought for my two week adventure in Europe (though, I might add that I was glad to have them off my feet by the end of day 15). Another pair of shoes can take up a lot of room in a bag.

Second is laying out everything you want to bring a few nights before. Erin still laughs at me while I match up shirts, jeans, and even underwear a few nights before hand on my bed. However, it gives me a good chance to mentally process if I really need that extra shirt, if I can pull of wearing the same shirt out two nights in a row with different people, etc. Pre-packing a night or two early, before actually packing the day of departure can help cut down on those last minute “but I might need that” items.

Tip #8: Budget for Travel, NOW!

What drives me crazy is that many people will plan out their sick and vacation days they receive from work over a year in advance, but then are limited to only those two or three trips for the entire year. It is so easy to get away for a weekend every few months (or in my case, monthly) by only putting aside a few extra bucks every week.

While everyone budgets their money very differently, I will share my method I use to keep extra cash on hand for my last minute adventures. At the beginning of every month I start out with a “going out/adventure” balance that I can use in full every month (and if this is the second, or subsequent month, you add/subtract your previous month balance). Every time I go to the bar, cinema, buy a coffee, etc. it comes out of this fund. However, if the fund ever reaches a certain value or has begun to decrease at a slower rate, I will use that excess to travel for a weekend. And I know exactly how much I have to spend.

I also look at money used on travel differently than most other people do. When calculating how much a trip is going to cost, I only count costs that I would incur if I was not at home. These means I leave food, drinks, gas, and anything else that I would have spend anyway out of the equation. By doing this, you will notice that travel is not only cheaper than people make it out to be, but that a flight across the country and local vacation will occasionally be similarly priced.

Hope these additional travel advice bits will help you travel cheaper, further, and more often. And at worst, will prevent your from packing that fourth pair of shoes in your carry-on suitcase. Happy travels!

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