Saving tips – Economics for travelers
Unless you are extremely rich, if you want to travel for long periods of time you will need to finance that trip and be financially conscious. You should be aware that as a couple, travelling and being financially independent has always been a priority for us. We are aware that not everyone puts travelling, going around the world, meeting new people and new places as priority. Some people prefer having a huge house, party everyday, fancy clothes or fancy cars. There’s nothing wrong with that, we are just different… But as I said initially, you would need to be quite rich (or have big monthly incomes) to afford all that without prioritizing. Unfortunately it’s not the case for most of us.
I will leave the financing part to other posts and focus on our tips to saving tips for travelers, both short and long-term trips:
If there’s something that has to go together with travelling on a budget, that is Flexibility. If you really want to cut your travel expenses you will need to be able to adjust your holidays. The price of flights and hotels varies considerably depending on the month, day of the week and even time of travel. Also, despite being very counter-intuitive, you have enough time usually indirect flights are cheaper, so if you don’t mind losing a few hours you can take advantage of that. Finally, you may consider changing your destination. For example, If you want to go to the Southern Europe, but the vacations to Spain are expensive in those weeks, try Portugal, Croatia, Malta, Greece, Turkey… There an endless number of possibilities in terms of Holidays don’t stick to the first 2 or 3 that come up to your mind.
Buy in advance but not too much
You should always start your search for your holidays as early as possible. But don’t reserve your (flights, train trips, cars, hotels) right after. Some web sites allow you to create an alert on your search and will send an e-mail when price changes. According to our experience, the prices vary very much. Usually they start high and then drop until a few weeks, when they start to increase again… Although read about people getting good prices on last-minute deals, I could never catch one that was better than buying near the bottom, so I don’t suggest betting on that…
Always compare prices
Shop around! Don’t just find a good deal and keep. Almost never your first great find is the best, just continue your search. When we say compare, really compare on multiple angles:
– Then compare similar services, e.g. similar hotels; same destination different air line; different cars when renting; If the train is expensive, try bus, plane, ferry…
– Finally compare the same service for different dates. The price you found may seem good, but you should ask yourself, if I went in another date or schedule with different timing would it better? Try the exact same thing but a week/month later and earlier and find out. You will be surprised…
*disclaimer: couplertw has an affiliate program with hotelscombined. So if you buy through a link to hotelscombined you are contributing to this site, without paying any extra.
Don’t always go for the cheapest one
This may seem weird in a saving tips article, but you should always consider other factors besides the final price. Factors that will both make your holiday more pleasant and cheaper. I mean you should consider the location and the amenities (wi-fi, parking, breakfast etc) when choosing a hotel. You should check for excess insurance when renting a car. In other words, reducing one cost to the most may increase another more or can make your trip much less pleasant. Finally don’t ever forget that being frugal is different from being miserable. If your savings are preventing you from enjoying your live, your holidays, your trips, you aren’t saving in the correct way or in the right things.
Remember the expression value for money
Value for money is one of my favorite concepts. To fully learn what it means you should also understand these three notions:
- Economy – careful use of resources, expense, time or effort;
- Efficiency – relationship between the return and the cost, time or effort – spending well;
- Effectiveness – the relationship between intended and real cost, time or effort – spending wisely;
The concept implies that when you are making choices you should take in consideration if they are economic, efficient and effective. Think of it like this, for every purchase you make you want to maximize the utility (pleasure) derived from it, or for the same utility you want minimize the cost.
But what does this mean for us travelers? When we travel, we want to have fun, meet people and places, enjoy life the most we can, in economic lingo, maximize the utility... For example, if you are in Milan and want to go to the Alps, you can rent a car or go by train/Bus. If renting a car(and every expense derived from it) costed barely same as going by Bus/train, you should consider if the driving (among other things) would be a bonus or a sacrifice. For me driving the Stelvio pass was amazing, so I would always drive – maximizing the utility for the same price.