Published: March 16, 2019
By: Courtney Allen
How the heck we do it
In six months, I have paid for three music festivals, an incredible trip to Costa Rica, a plane ticket to Indonesia,
permits and camping reservations to Supai, and many dreamy weekend trips. If you would have told me that just one year ago, I would have been very concerned as to what illegal activity I had gotten myself into to come across such money. It turns out- I had been making enough to do those things already. Where *that* money was ending up though? Thats a different story.
Tip: If at any point you become overwhelmed by the information below, or do not feel like reading it all- SKIP TO THE BOTTOM! I have something exciting waiting for you down there!
Where does your money go?
I had to start plugging leaks. Some big, some small. Thirty bucks or more on coffee each week. A new sweater just because. That new makeup palette that will end up in the back of my drawer (full of other makeup palettes) by the end of the month. CHICK-FIL-A. Ordering sweet tea instead of water.
"Each month I ended up with an empty bucket, and worked to refill it without first. plugging. the leaks."
A big step for me was downloading an app that calls me out for spending stupid amounts of money on things I don't need. The Clarity Money app links to my bank account and provides analytics based on my spending. If it notices that I'm spending a lot in one place (Starbucks..), it tells me. It categorizes my purchases and makes it so easy for me to set aside an hour every two weeks to look over my finances.
This, in combination with spreadsheets that calculate my weekly income and help me allocate my earnings, help me become fully aware of what money I earn and what I'm choosing to spend it on. This awareness helped me realize that where my money was going did not align with my goals and my values, which put me in position to start ditching the comfort of new clothes, fast food, and coffee and start buying plane tickets instead.
WHAT ELSE YA GOT?
Speaking of plane tickets- welcome to hardest part of planning your trip. Its a huge commitment, and typically the most expensive part of your trip. Saving the money for airfare is just a matter of "plugging some leaks", and doing some research to find cheap flights.
One of my favorite free sites to suggest is scyscanner.com. With Skyscanner, you can search for flights a bit more "adventurously" than what other sites allow. You can search with no timeframe in mind, no location in mind, etc. You can also select "Whole month" then "cheapest month" to be redirected to the cheapest flights available for a certain location. It will provide full calendar months with color coded pricing for each day.
If it's up to me, I'll probably never stay in a hotel again. Airbnb has to be one of the BEST things to ever happen. There are a few reasons why I'm convinced of this: the reviews, the local feel, the price tag, and the hosts.
I'm a big fan of reviews. As a highly involved consumer, I do a lot of research into just about every product that I buy. Everyone that stays at an Airbnb is required to leave a review on the amenities, location, host, and overall value of the Airbnb. When staying at a "random human's" property, this is a bit important, no?
The "local feel" of a lot of airbnbs is unmatched. In Costa Rica, our first airbnb (check it out in our first vlog) made us feel like true locals. By the time we left, we knew the neighbors, our way around town by foot, and had been exposed directly to the local culture of Quepos in the most beautiful way.
With most airbnbs, you're going to get an incredible experience and not pay NEARLY as much as you would for a hotel. In Costa Rica, we stayed a multimillion dollar mansion (complete with an infinity pool and a maid that cooked for us upon request). The damage? $50 a night.
We've never had a bad experience with a host. In fact, befriending the hosts is one of our favorite parts of traveling! With the places we've stayed, our hosts have been accommodating and available to help us get the most out of the trip. They know where to eat, what tours to take, and can even fuss out a tour guide (who happens to be their friend) if they miss your pickup time. True story.
Just like Airbnb, there's a service for rental cars that will save you the hassle of a rental car company. Kyle and I are big fans of avoiding rental car companies due the fact that we got hustled in San Jose. We walked in, got told that everything we paid through Expedia was invalid and that we needed to pay over $1,000 for our dang Toyota Yaris which had been quoted at $200. Luckily, after hours of putting up a fight, we walked out paying the correct amount, but that experience- while educational- was not fun.
So, we'd suggest using Turo if it's available where you're traveling!
If you're not comfortable driving in a foreign country, you don't HAVE to rent a car. There are other options available heavily depending on where you're traveling! If you need help finding the right option for your trip, feel free to contact us and we'd be happy to help you figure that out!
Lastly, there's a few options for planning activities during your stay. We use primarily Trip Advisor and Viator! You can also book experiences through Airbnb. Typically, we find the reviews and information on Trip Advisor to be the most helpful.
Tip: When deciding on activities, do so wisely! Go through your itinerary chronologically and think about how you will probably be feeling at each point in time. (i.e. That spa day might be best to do the day after your strenuous hike). To get the best experience, it is imperative to plan intentionally.
Leave it to us
While these tips are helpful, most of what goes into planning affordable trips entails hours and hours and days and days of research. Deciding on what order took book things, reading hundreds of reviews, and ultimately reaching the point of exhaustion where your brain can no longer process information! Luckily, Kyle and I are travel planning NERDS. For some strange reason, we tend to thoroughly enjoy trip planning (I guess it just feels good to find something you're naturally good at!).
SO, if you'd rather fill out a fun little survey and receive a kick-butt trip plan- use our trip planning service! Kyle and I, together, will create a well thought out, heavily researched, trip plan using the resources that we utilize (and pay for) to ensure that you get to stretch your dollar as far as possible without sacrificing quality. Head over to our Trip Planning tab to check it out, and as always, feel free to message us within questions you may have.
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