3 Secrets to Affordable Travel

Travel doesn’t have to break the bank. Follow these three not-so-secret tips to save big when traveling:

Road Trips

Flights for a family of four or five can easily rack up to $2,000 when traveling cross country. Why not load up the car and iPod and hit the open road? You’ll also get to see more of your home country – some of the small towns have the coolest sights. For example, the swinging bridge in Souris, Manitoba, or the Boswell Embalming Bottle House, a house built of discarded glass embalming fluid bottles, located in southern British Columba. These and many other unique attractions would be missed if you fly directly to your destination.

Keep in mind that there may be the added cost of overnight stays at hotels if you’re going on a long road trip. This can be managed by staying at motels along the main highways or camping.

Even with gas prices rise, and the new carbon tax, the price will be significantly less than flying. However, I wouldn’t recommend this, if you’re tight for time. Time is money, after all. Plus you might want to consider if the savings worth listening to your kids argue for six hours straight.

Avoid Staying at Hotels

Hotels, especially in cities near attractions or downtown, are not cheap. Perhaps it’s time to reconnect with that long lost cousin or visit your mother’s Aunt. Staying with family or friend is a great way to save money. If you’re traveling for leisure and plan to spend most of the time exploring, why spend hundreds of dollars for a room you’re only going to sleep in? Plus there’s the added bonus of getting to spend time with someone you don’t get to see very often.

My Mom’s cousin lives just outside of Los Angelos, which makes it much more affordable for us to go to Disneyland or to take in the many great attractions L.A. has to offer. The funny thing is, my Mom didn’t know her cousin until her honeymoon, where she was in the L.A. area and her mother suggested she looked her up. Since then, she has welcomed into her home numerous times. We always know we have a home there.

I do admit, it’s not all peaches when staying with family. Some people have different schedules or not enough space. My brother, whom I mentioned in a previous post, lives in Halifax and was staying in a condo in the downtown area, with his wife and five children. The location was incredible, it was right on the Halifax Waterfront Boardwalk, where we spent most of our time. However, the condo only had three bedrooms. Now, as you can imagine, it was a little crowded with six kids and three adults. To top it off, my daughter wasn’t used to having other kids around all the time, so she was overwhelmed by the added noise. Regardless, she still talks about this trip like it was yesterday. She loved spending time with her cousins and seeing the sea water every day.

Travel Off Season

Another great way to save money is to travel when everyone else is in school or working. Know your destination, North America breaks for summer during July and August; while Australia breaks during December and January. Also, major tourist destinations are typically busier during July and August, as most of the world does break from school at that time. However, when traveling off-season, many of the attractions may have reduced hours or may even be closed for the season, so be sure to do your researching. Visiting Whistler during their off-season (summer months) is a much different experience than visiting in November when the town is full of ski bunnies.

These are all great ways to save money when traveling. However, they require additional time to plan. You need map out your route and check hours of operations for each attraction you plan to visit. If you’re short on cash but have lots of time, this is a great way to see the world. I was once told, the cheapest way to travel is the hardest to plan and slowest mode transportation. This has held true for me to this day.


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