What’s the best bang for your travel buck?
To me, cost saving isn’t as important as value. So, what type of travel is the best value for money? Here are my thoughts.
Flashpacker style accommodation is a level above roughing it in hotel dorms or windowless cubicle-size rooms. For example, flashpacker style might be a private room at a hostel, or in some cases a bunk at a nicer hostel. In places like Asia, flashpacker style will generally mean staying at a guest house that has air con and a pool in the cities, and in a bungalow that has aircon when at the beach.
Flashpacker style can often including staying in a very nice hotel midweek at places that are mainly weekend travel destinations. A room at a nice hotel midweek in these types of places will often only cost around $50, which is the price of a dorm bed at a hostel in many large cities.
Timing your trips.
That brings us to the issue of timing your trips. You can often dramatically increase your value if you avoid travel at peak periods. For example, don’t try to book international flights into/out of Australia or New Zealand during school holidays. Likewise, don’t try to book a campervan while all the locals are attempting to do this for their school holidays.
The direction of your travel can affect the cost too e.g hiring a camper van going South to North in New Zealand is often cheaper than going North to South as most tourists travel North to South and the vans need to get redistributed.
Also always think about holidays like Valentines Day or any particular festivals, conventions, or sporting events that might dramatically push up prices. For example, visiting a city when the Superbowl is on will be budget busting. If you go during a busy period, you’ll end up getting overcharged for a low quality room.
Taking freebies or minimal cost upgrades.
Taking freebies or upgrading for small amounts of extra cost can give you an occasional little boost in your level of travel style. This can be anything e.g. shipping your luggage ahead or taking a cab vs. attempting to haul it on public transportation. You may be eligible for the occasional perk through loyalty points and the like. The main point here is to be aware of when things expire. I once let a big chunk of airline points expire that would’ve paid for a one way flight across the US, and almost a return flight! I hadn’t added to the points in 18 months and because I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the expiry date, poof, they were gone.
Some upgrades are easier to get than others. Airline upgrades are probably the hardest, unless you’re upgrading with points. A $20 tip that you discreetly hand to the front desk when giving them your credit card and i.d. will get you a room upgrade at most hotels in Las Vegas, and may work at other destinations too.