6 Transportation Websites for Budget Travel

By Sara | February 16, 2016

The notion that travel is expensive is a fantastic myth that airlines and transport companies have profited from, but the truth is that cheap travel is easier than you’d think. Here are a few go-to resources that we use every week when planning our next destinations.

1. Skyscanner

We’re big fans of SkyScanner. The ability to search based on one airport and have everywhere in the world show up is priceless. We save hundreds of dollars by looking at full month of prices in the chart view and choosing the cheapest dates. I never book flight without checking SkyScanner first. If you don’t want to do the research, check out our Cheap Flights This Month page for weekly updated flights from all over the world.

2. Rome2Rio

Every time we travel, Rome2Rio is a site I do a quick check on. The site pulls up relevant busses and trains for a given route and has a direct link to book tickets. It’s easy to price check ground transport against flights within minutes and know whether you’re missing a good deal or not.

3. Skiplagged

Skiplagged shows what the cheap travel transportation options are. I don’t often book directly through them because you can find better rates elsewhere, but Skiplagged displays routes that you may not have thought of before.

For instance, with Skiplagged I was able to find out that a direct flight from Morocco to Belgium was $30 cheaper than the layover route I was planning with Ryan Air. I booked through our credit card rewards instead and got the flights for free.

4. RyanAir

Oh, Ryan Air. A travelers best friend and worst nightmare. Ryan Air gets away with dirt cheap travel prices to almost anywhere in Europe (we’ve flown for as little as $5 per person) by placing extremely stringent guidelines on what they offer. Read: you pay for your seat and that’s it.

Want a booking confirmation text? Three dollars. Want to choose your seats? Six bucks. Bring a carry-on bag that doesn’t fit in the overhead bin? Fifty dollar fee. Forgot to print your boarding pass? There’s a fee for that too. Now, the bright side – their website is fantastic and their prices rock. It’s a decent deal if you can travel light and play by their rules. After all, there’s a reason that their airfare is inexpensive!

5. Credit Card Rewards and Partner Miles

This one varies based on your credit card and score. Greg and I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which gives us bonus points on all travel and dining – two of the biggest expenses while traveling.

The Sapphire Preferred also has no foreign transaction fees and gives  cardholders $500 after you spend a certain amount within the first three months. There is such a thing as free money! We earn plenty of points just by buying the things we normally buy, and in return can redeem our points for free flights and experiences.

Look into credit cards that give you cash back or help you earn points that can be exchanged for flights or hotels to save money on travel.

6. Kayak Explore

Last but not least is Kayak Explore. Kayak Explore pulls up a giant map of the whole world. You can choose your month of travel and price boxes appear over every country. This is great to get a general idea of where to travel and when. The down side is you can’t specify a destination city or choose one-way tickets as a viewing option, so the explore site is best used as a reference before looking into specifics.

Whether you use a site on this list or your personal favorite, travel doesn’t have to be expensive. What sites do you use to book your travel transportation? Comment your favorite below!

Optimize Your Cross-Country Driving

By Greg | January 5, 2016

So you’re planning to go home for the holidays. You’ve been looking forward to that free week off all year, and eagerly put your search dates into Google Flights. The page loads, and you’re shocked to be looking at a choice of small fortunes to be able to visit your own family.

For whatever the reason, sometimes the costs of flights aren’t feasible, or maybe just not sensible, to commit an entire paycheck to. So with no other alternative aside from not traveling, you decide to save your money and drive. Here’s how to make the most out of it.

Step 1: Plan, and Review the Plan

Planning your trip ahead of time will save you money and stress while on the road. The few things you must do are:

  1. Get the oil changed in your car
  2. Check the air in the tires
  3. Make sure you have a spare tire
  4. Pack snacks for the road
  5. Determine which route you’ll take

For cross-country driving, it helps to look at which route is easiest to drive (avoid mountains and bad weather) along with the length of time each route will be, and make the best choice for you and your travel companions.

Step 2: Start Early to Avoid Peak Traffic Times

Starting the drive before everyone else wakes up can save you hours of cross-country driving. If you are driving through a major city, do everything possible to get through the traffic madness before 5am or after 8pm.

The problem with starting late rather than early is that as the night goes on, driving gets harder and harder because your mental clock begins getting ready for bed. However, if you start early in the morning your brain will typically automatically begin to wake up at around 5-6 am and allow you to drive without fatigue the entire day.

Step 3: Use GPS

GPS is a wonderful tool that almost everyone should take advantage of it. Using Apple Maps on iPhone and Google Maps on Android can help you avoid accidents, find faster routes, find the next gas station and even navigate you through the never ending construction zones.

Waze, a popular community driven iPhone and Android app, can tell you if police are waiting right after a speed limit drop. Use GPS when you can, shut it off during long 100+ mile straight-a-ways and DON’T FORGET YOUR CHARGER. The last thing you want is your GPS giving you a faster route and then having your phone shut off. Trust me, I know.

Step 4: Pack Snacks, Not Drinks

This rule is simple: eat everything except super salty foods. Salt dehydrates you and causes your body to want water. When you drink anything you typically have to use the restroom an hour later, which  just adds time onto your already long cross-country driving adventure.

Each stop on average takes about 15 minutes because you have to get off the highway, find a restroom, park the car, go to the restroom, grab another pack of beef jerky and mosey back onto the highway so you can pass that 18-wheeler for the 7th time. It’s ok to drink liquid, just do it 1-2 hours before stopping to get gas. You go to the bathroom when you refuel. It’s that simple.

Tip: This does not mean relieve yourself on the side of the highway. If Jimmy the cop drives by and is having a bad day, you just became a registered sex offender.

Step 5: Cruise Control

Cruise Control is key. Not only does it save gas, but it keeps you moving and can prevent traffic tickets. You can always tell when someone is driving long distance without cruise control because they go back and forth between 50 and 70 miles per hour. The tortoise won the race because he was consistent with his speed.

Step 6: Optimize Your Stops

You are going to need to stop every 4-6 hours or 300-600 miles depending on the car to refill the gas tank. Begin looking for gas stations when you have 1/4  tank left. The last thing you want to do is end up between El Paso and San Antonio where there’s nothing but desert because you thought you could make it to the next gas station 150 miles away.

Plan your gas stops with your bathroom breaks to maximize time. At each stop, make every travel companion throw out their trash, get out to stretch, and use the bathroom.

Step 7: Follow the Group

If traffic is going 80 and the speed limit is 70, stay the speed of traffic. It is safer to drive the same speed as everyone else, and on the plus side you can make up some time. If a Corvette zips by you going 90 in a 70, do not try to catch up. Cops pull over chasers before speeders. Last, if traffic is going slower than the speed limit but the driving conditions allow you to go the speed limit, do it.

Step 8: Stay Awake

We can all agree that it’s far better to make it to your destination alive than dead. There are rest areas scattered all along the highways and you can even doze off in Walmart parking lots for a few hours if you need to.

Listen to music, drink some coffee, play the A-Z travel game, but above all stay awake and alert. When you start blinking a lot and your eyes get heavy, get off the road! Even the greatest of men enjoy sleep. Get off and give your eyes a rest. The road will be there tomorrow.

Hopefully these cross-country driving tips help you prepare for your next great road-trip. We’d love to hear what your craziest road trip story is! For more tips on travel by air, train, bus, and car, check our 6 Transportation Websites for Budget Travel.

How to Get Cheap Flights

By Sara | December 22, 2015

There are countless flight apps you could download, but you only need one to get insanely awesome rates to anywhere in the world. When we booked our one-way tickets from New York to Spain, we paid $500 USD combined for the two of us. When we flew to Ibiza, we paid €5 each. How is that possible you may ask? It all comes down to how you search.

Typically, when someone looks for cheap flights they input their intended dates of travel and the location they want to go. This is not a cost effective way to search because the airline search engines essentially throw a party and inflate the price.

You’ve just told them that you are inflexible on both your travel location and your travel dates, which translates to them not needing to give you a cheap flight.

With Skyscanner, the trick is to only input the airport you need to leave from, and then set the destination to ‘flexible’ and the dates to ‘any’ or ‘cheapest month’.

Now the airlines have no clue where you want to go or when, and will show you every flight out of a given airport for all dates. Skyscanner even does the heavy lifting for you and will display the cheapest time of the year to fly.

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Using this technique, I was able to see which days were the least expensive for us to fly and book cheap flights based on this information. Granted, not everyone has total flexibility in when they fly, but from searching for flights I found that leaving the dates and location open even if you have a preferred travel time keeps the prices reasonable.