how to travel the world on a budget

How to Travel the World on a Very Limited Budget

If you are new to this space, you might not know that one of our passions is to travel. We love traveling all over the world and take every chance we get to do so. If only work didn’t get in the way we would probably travel way more, but I guess that is what retirement is for, right? I get a lot of questions about our trips, specific to how we find the travel deals and I am excited to finally share a post on this topic.

how to travel the world on a budget

First let me start by debunking the thought that you need to be rich to travel. That is absolutely not true. Not even close to being true. Do you need some money, yes. But I think you might be surprised with how little we spend on our trips.

Speaking of money, I want to first point out, because we steward our money well and traveling is a priority to us, we make sure to put money in our traveling bucket every month. I want to also point out that I am sharing this post just two days after sharing about tithing and in my opinion, it’s no accident that God would have it that way. Why? Because I believe tithing paves the way for freedom in your finances and when you have freedom in your finances and steward your money well, then your able to find ways to do what you love and for my husband and I, that is traveling. Colby and I choose to save, spend, tithe and invest our money wisely – we know our money is a gift from the Lord and we want to respect how and when we use it. Because we spend little and do everything we can to keep our expenses to a minimum this allows us extra money to travel!

So how do we take 3 to 5 trips a year, even on one salary? I’m sharing some tips and tricks below including:

How for the next 2 years we have up to 24 roundtrip flights for just $11 a flight.
How we recently got a 5 day rental car for $60
How we flew roundtrip to Europe last August for just $375
How we recently flew to Denver for just $70 roundtrip
And how the majority of flights the past 7 years of marriage have only been $11

Websites

The Flight Deal – I don’t know a thing about this website, but this is what Colby uses. You can set it to specifically find deals out of your city. This is how he find our $375 round trip flight to Europe.

Flight Aware – This is not a deal website, but I couldn’t not include this. Why? Because it gives you the inside scoop to your flight including the prior history, average delay, where your incoming plane is coming in from (and if it’s on time), etc etc. I always use this over the actual airline to check flight status.

Flyer Talk – The largest forum where travel experts share all the tips and tricks

Frugal Travel Guy – All things travel for people who want to save some money. This is a great website!

Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia are also all great websites.

how to travel on a budget

Apps

Uber – Hopefully you aren’t using taxis and you are using Uber instead. Uber is fabulous for when you need to catch a ride somewhere and don’t have a car. If you use code carolineh2699ue when you sign up you will get $5 off your first two rides

Skyscanner – Helps you find the best deal for your flight, hotel or car rental

Hopper – I actually somehow have not used Hopper yet, but I have heard nothing but good things. Hopper shows you the best possible price for the route you are looking for along with the timing of when to buy your tickets.

Packpoint – If you are a list maker or wish you were a list-maker this app helps you organize everything you need for your trip determined by your destination and length of stay

Google Trips – Scans your email and organizes all your trip information.

Credit Cards

I can’t say enough about credit cards, but I can’t move forward without first pointing out I would never recommend a credit card to anyone, unless they paid off the balance right away, so first go re-read the paragraph about financial stewardship. If you are someone who can manage a credit card and the responsibility that comes with it, credit cards have helped us get so many free flights and hotels and credit cards are our top secret to how we get most of our flights for $11.20.

British Airways – British airways ALL the way. Their program has changed over the years, but this is the main credit card we use. A flight that costs 25K miles roundtrip on American (considered a reward flight), is anywhere from 9K to 15K on BA. So you get double the amount the flights for your miles. A lot of people get confused so let me clarify, your flight is always on American Airlines, you just book through British Airway.

Marriott – Get in when they are offering a high promotion to sign up. They always have on-going promotions once you have account with them. When Colby lived in Georgia many years ago and I lived in Dallas we would hotel hop every night I was there. We would stay in a Marriott one night, and then drive 1 minute down the street and check in to another Marriott and every time we did that (due to the promotion they were running) we would get a free night. Those free nights sure do add up and we accumulated over 7 free nights. Marriott offers the Look No Further Program, which guarantees a 25% discount off any other lower rate found. I would say about 80% of the time I can find a lower price on another website and when I do, I go fill out the form on the Marriott website and get 25% off the reduced rate. That means if a room is $125 on Marriott and $100 on Kayak, Marriott will give you the room for $75 ($50 discount). It can save you so much money it’s crazy. And with the stay 2, get 1 free deal, it sometimes feels as though they are giving away rooms for free.

Southwest – Colby just signed us up for this and we can now get up to 24 roundtrip flights over the next 2 years for $11 per flight. What in the world! Crazy right? If you want the details on how to get that, you can look here.

Europe - Montenegro

Airlines

As said above, we mainly fly American Airlines because that is who are points are with. We will of course now start flying Southwest since we have those free flights. But we also have flown Spirit 7 or 8 times and let me tell you, you just can’t beat the price. We have now gone to Colorado for 4 years in a row and every time we have flown Spirit instead of using our miles because the flights are just so cheap. I think some people automatically think Spirit is a bad airline, but we have never had one bad flight with them, ever. And when you can fly 2 people with a bag for under $200, I would say they are quite great.

All-Inclusive + Cruises

We used to go to all-inclusives all the time and this past January was our first time to visit one in 5 years! I think we realized how much better of a deal a cruise is. Cruises an amazing way to cover a lot of territory while on a budget and we came to the conclusion that we like them better than an all-inclusive. Why? We get to see more, we are way more active, there is more to do, the food is a million times better and they still come in way cheaper than an all-inclusive.

Rental Car

CarRentals.com  My favorite website is carrentals.com. Whenever we are going on a trip I usually check it daily. Why? Because the prices can vary that much. Recently, when we went to Colorado I booked a car for $200 for 5 days, but you know what? I didn’t want to pay that much. So I kept checking and it went down to $80 so I canceled the $200 and booked the $80 and what did I do? I kept checking and it went down to $60 so I canceled the $80 and booked the $60. The website remembers your history so it’s as easy as opening the website and clicking refresh. 

Other Tips

Other maybe obvious tips, but also hopefully helpful:

Look for hotels with free parking, wifi and breakfast. These are probably the three things that I hate spending money on the most.

Of course, flying on a Thursday is cheaper than a Friday, as a Monday is cheaper than a Sunday. If you have a flexible schedule, avoid flying on the weekends. Anytime you can avoid flying during prime time, you will find a better deal.

Always price match between websites, because they all offer different prices. If I find a deal on let’s say Kayak, I would also check it with the direct airline, hotel or car rental and check it on Orbitz, Expedia, etc too.

These are just a few ideas, I’m sure I could go on and on all day. By saving in the ways that we do, we are able to travel more. If there is a topic that I didn’t cover, that  you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me!

how to travel on a budget

Shop My Favorite Travel Items

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I didn’t start sharing our traveling adventures on the blog until the end of 2013, but you can see some of our vacations below:

Pacific Northwest
Western Caribbean Cruise
Arizona
Hilton Head
South America: Argentina
South America: Torres Del Paine
South America: Lake Region
South America: Santiago + Coast
Colorado
Costa Rica: Manuel Antonio
Costa Rica: Santa Teresa
Costa Rica: La Fortuna
Michigan
Las Vegas
Caribbean Cruise – Grand Turk + Dominican Republic
Caribbean Cruise – Aruba + Curacao
Colorado Ski Date #2
North Carolina
Maui
Kauai
Oahu
Palm Springs
Colorado #3
Anniversary Staycation
Florida
Europe: The Netherlands
Europe: Montenegro + Greece
Europe: Croatia
Branson, Missouri
Cancun, Mexico
Colorado Ski Trip #4


PS. If you are going through infertility, please head over to join a faith-based support group I founded, Moms in the Making!

PPS. Have you picked up a copy of my book? Buy In Due Time, a 60-day devotional for hope + encouragement in the waiting.

PPPS. I created a group on facebook as an extension of my book + blog to discuss anything + everything. Women only! Come join us!

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5 Comments
  • Carissa Maul
    Posted at 09:54h, 02 March Reply

    These are some wonderful tips Caroline and I like how it timed with your tithing! We utilized SWA as well for our traveling.

  • Elena Tidley
    Posted at 10:51h, 02 March Reply

    Awesome tips girl! Definitely looking into that Southwest deal!

  • Tedi at Running with Infertility
    Posted at 14:09h, 02 March Reply

    Great tips! I haven’t booked by using this site yet, but Pomelo travel has given me hope that you can fly internationally pretty cheap. They send me emails a few times a week with great international deals and how to get them.

  • Ashley
    Posted at 01:21h, 03 March Reply

    Fascinating tips! The trouble we have here is that Alaska Airlines is the ONLY airline that flies in and out (and Delta for a couple months in the summers). We do have the Alaska Air credit card but we just get up enough points to cover about one flight a year for the two of us. Still looking into your tips above to see if we might be able to use any of them!

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