Our July Q&A video is tomorrow, so I wanted to share a roundup of some very basic tips that all travelers should know (but that many unfortunately don’t).
If you’d like to come and chat about any of these (or any other travel topic), it is at 1 PM Eastern, on July 9th (Sunday) on Instagram (this link will redirect to the video when we go live).
Here’s a roundup of 23 basic travel tips.
Travel tips basics
All these tips are in our free ebook with 100+ travel tips, but I wanted to share a few that too few people know about here (mostly to travel for less, but also to travel better).
Of course, there are plenty of others, but these are the ones that too many people unfortunately don’t know about. Of course, when you don’t know, you don’t know. That’s why we’re here!
Helping you travel for less is literally our mission at Flytrippers.
I’ve divided these 23 tips into 6 sections, which are the 6 most important (and simple) ways to travel for less:
- Find cheaper flights
- Choose affordable destinations
- Travel like the locals live
- Get into travel rewards
- Invest time in planning your trips
- Make it a priority to travel for less
Find cheaper flights (9 tips)
Flights are the most variable travel expense (flying to the same destination can cost $500 or $1500), so it’s important to learn how not to be like just about everyone who pays way too much money for their plane tickets.
1. Learn the basics and the pro tricks
Many people don’t understand how flight prices work at all, and that’s normal: it’s complex. But it’s certain that if you do nothing and don’t take the time to learn how to find cheaper flights and think that magically you’ll find some, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Most people are objectively bad at finding cheaper tickets because they don’t take the time to learn or they don’t know where to get information. Now you know where! You can read our preview of 31 tips for finding cheaper flights while you wait for the ultimate guide. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to save on airfare, from the basics to pro tips.
2. Searching and booking are 2 completely separate things
At the very least, you need to understand that. Of course, you should never do your search on an airline’s website (no matter which one), always use an aggregator like Skyscanner.
But you should never book with an intermediary (travel agents included) because everything is so much more complicated if you do (unless the intermediary has a really lower price, which happens sometimes with some of the 40+ sites Skyscanner compares).
3. How you book tickets makes a huge difference on the price
Looking for Toronto-Bali roundtrip very simply is what 99% of people will do if they want to go to Bali… and it’s often more expensive. There are plenty of pro tips for finding cheaper flights, especially when prices are high.
The best example is the self-transfer tip (separate tickets), but there’s plenty more in our preview of 31 tips for finding cheaper flights that get you to the same place for less by changing how you book. Like just booking 2 one-ways instead of a roundtrip for short-distance flights. Or nested tickets if you’re going to Europe twice. Or the hidden-city trick for very specific destinations. Etc.
4. Always pay for your flights with a credit card that has free insurance
It’s fascinating how few people know what is probably the most important tip in the whole world of travel! Delays and cancelations are always going to happen! Take responsibility and simply pay with a good credit card!
With flight delay insurance, you’ll get free hotel and meals during delays/cancelations, without having to wait and beg the airline, and without having to complain to the media that the airline didn’t pay you anything. It’s suuuuch a simple trick!
5. Most airplane tickets cannot be changed free of charge
Airplane ticket pricing mechanisms are extremely complex and prices are always changing, so most tickets are not changeable (not for free at least), unless you leave from airports in the USA.
Choose where you want to go, when you want to go, and don’t change your mind. If you pay with a good credit card that has trip cancelation insurance, you’ll be able to get your money back if you have a good reason to cancel or modify your trip (if it’s one of the many reasons covered, but not just any reason, of course)!
6. Don’t pay to choose your seats
Many people think they have to pay for seat selection. Just click “skip” and that’s it, you’re under no obligation to choose any.
All you have to do is check in online 24 hours before departure (as all travelers should always do anyway, to avoid waiting uselessly at the airport) and you’ll often be able to choose them for free, or at worst be seated anywhere with your travel companions (almost always).
7. Travel light
If you want to bring checked baggage, that’s okay if you prefer to travel in a less affordable and less enjoyable way, that’s subjective. But what’s not subjective, and what’s very very objective, is that pro fliers never bring checked baggage. That’s a fact.
Save money, save time. You’ll love it once you try it. If you want us to share our experience and expertise with you, it’s simple: never check bags. No matter if it’s for a 1 day trip or a 1 month trip, team carry-on only.
8. If you don’t travel light, at least take advantage of it when they lose your luggage
The best reason to bring checked baggage is that airlines are legally obliged to reimburse you over $2,000 if your baggage is delayed (international flights only). Credit card insurance provides $500 for all flights, too.
But a lot of people don’t know that once again! Of course, the airlines don’t tell you that you’re entitled to a complete wardrobe makeover, but you are. It’s so important to be well-informed. Imagine how many people have had baggage delays and missed out on that easy $2,000!
9. Never pay cash for business or first class flights
Business or first class flights are so expensive in money, it just doesn’t make sense to pay that in money. Again, when you don’t know it, you don’t know it. But now you do. Don’t do it, it’s really not very smart.
Travel rewards are so great for premium cabin flights. I just did it for the first time this week, a 12-hour flight on the world’s best business class worth $3856 for just $161. So if you want to travel in luxury, drop everything and come join us on Thursday (July 13th) for our monthly video specifically on travel rewards.
Choose affordable destinations (1 tip)
The easiest way to travel for less if you don’t want to make any other effort… just stop always traveling to expensive countries like everyone always does.
10. Go to the many countries where you can travel for $30/day
Many people really have no idea what cheap travel really is. Portugal came up a lot when we asked where the cheapest country you’d ever been to was. Portugal is far from cheap. Really far.
It’s cheaper than North America, the Caribbean and the rest of Western Europe, of course… but those are all the most terrible places in the world to travel for less. Of course, that’s where everyone always goes. Cheaper countries are just as great to discover (or even better, I’d say, because they’re often more authentic and less full of tourists).
Travel like the locals live (3 tips)
The more you travel like a tourist who wants everything to be simple, easy, fast, and comfortable… the more expensive it’s going to be, of course. Travel as much as possible as the locals live in the country you’re in (and as you live at home)!
11. Never use your cell phone’s roaming package scam
Unfortunately, there are still many people who use the $10-12-15 a DAY roaming package scams from their Canadian cell phone provider to access the Internet while traveling.
It’s often $10-12-15 per WEEK (or MONTH even) if you just buy a local SIM card. Or an eSIM card (like Airalo), which are now cheaper and even simpler.
12. Eat where the locals eat
Restaurants on touristy streets and restaurants located in hotels are always twice as expensive as any other restaurant in town (or worse).
Just simply go where the locals go, search online or just go one street away from the touristy streets and see where there are long lines of locals. It will be more affordable and more authentic too.
13. Avoid airport taxis, one of the worst overpriced things in travel
There’s almost always a local transport option at a fraction of the price than airport taxis, which are almost always to be avoided, except sometimes for larger groups or in really cheap countries.
And if you do take a cab, obviously ALWAYS take Uber or the local equivalent. So much more simple and safe and almost always more affordable.
Get into travel rewards (1 tip)
Travel rewards are the best way to travel for less, provided you’re among those who use credit well (always pay everything on time).
14. Stop missing out
It’s so absurd to miss out on so many free trips, honestly. Especially since it’s so easy to get. Yes, it’s intimidating, it’s normal to be scared, but it’s not normal to not to learn more about it. When you finally take the plunge, you’ll wish you’d started sooner, guaranteed.
Our readers like you have accumulated 2 million dollars in travel rewards, that’s a lot of free travel. Join us on Thursday (July 13th) for our monthly video specifically on travel rewards.
Invest time in planning your trips (6 tips)
Whether or not you’ll be able to travel for less is determined before your trip. How well you prepare. It’s really not that complicated: the more time you put in beforehand, the more money you’ll save.
15. Compare, compare, and compare again
Just about any question we get on any subject could have this as an answer. Everything varies all the time! Just take 5 minutes to compare the options! And do the math.
Which flight is better? Compare. What type of accommodation is best? Compare! It always depends on your destination, your dates, and your preferences/priorities. Every conceivable piece of information is at your fingertips if you invest a little time in comparing. You need to compare a lot if you want to travel for less.
16. Become a NEXUS member
It’s sad that so many people wait in line at security checkpoints and customs (in Canada and the USA) when you can so easily avoid them all!
The NEXUS membership is one of the best examples of tips that are so simple… but that most travelers don’t even know exist!
17. Access airport lounges
for free (get paid to access them)
It’s really easy to get free access to airport lounges to make airport journeys more affordable and enjoyable, but most travelers don’t know that either. In fact, it’s better than free — you actually get paid for access.
Again, this is just for those who pay everything on time. But that’s the only condition, after that you can have at least a few free passes every year, year after year!
18. Try not to have any seat neighbors
If you choose your seats, by being smart you can maximize the chances of not having a seatmate, whether you’re traveling alone or with someone.
If you’re traveling solo, choose a window or aisle seat in a row where the aisle or window is already taken, not a seat in an empty row. If you’re traveling with someone, choose the window and aisle, never 2 seats next to each other. And as far back in the plane as possible in both cases. A lone middle seat at the back will only get chosen if the plane is 100% full, so you are likely to have an empty seat next to you if you’re solo or a full row if there are 2 of you.
19. Don’t pay financial fees
That’s another topic we’re going to cover because so many people get ripped off. All debit cards and most credit cards in Canada charge a 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee. Avoid this by using either a card on which you’re unlocking a big welcome bonus ideally, or at least one with no foreign currency transaction fees.
And for cash withdrawals, don’t miss our guide. Withdrawing cash in Canada before leaving is the worst option in terms of exchange rates/commissions, and of course once again that’s what most people do. Always use local ATMs at your destination.
20. Lodging is almost always refundable (so are car rentals)
Too few people know that almost all hotels are refundable! So if you’re that stressed (as many people are), book a hotel well in advance and at least you’ll have something confirmed. And if you find something better, you can cancel later and get your money back.
Even if you don’t want to change, double-check your reservation! The price may go down in the meantime, so simply rebook and cancel the more expensive one!
Make it a priority to travel for less (2 tips)
21. Be flexible
If you want to travel for less, it’s not rocket science. Be flexible on EVERYTHING. Everything, everything, everything.
The more flexible you are, the more you’ll save. It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Everyone can be flexible on at least certain elements if they want to. If you don’t want to be flexible on anything, it will obviously be expensive: it’s THE most important thing.
22. Stop wanting travel to be special
Travel is great, but it’s not special. Normalize traveling as much as possible. Make it commonplace and habitual. The more you act like this, the more you’ll be able to save and therefore travel more.
The attitude and mindset of splurging every time (by telling yourself it’s okay given that you travel sadly just 2-3 times a year)… that’s exactly what makes you travel sadly just 2-3 times a year. Traveling in a way that is more commonplace will allow you to travel more, if that’s what you want.
23. Dedicate more of your money to travel
It should go without saying… but lots of people spend way too much on unnecessary things at home. It’s okay if that’s what you want, it’s your life.
But if you want to travel more, simply make your choices accordingly. Especially if you’re going to cheap countries, just by saving $30 at home… that gives you an extra full day of travel right away! It’s worth it… if you want to travel more!
Want to get more content to learn to travel like a pro?
Here’s a roundup of 23 tips that not enough people know. If you’d like to discuss these topics, join us on Sunday (July 9th) at 1 PM Eastern for our July live Q&A video about travel.
What would you like to know about traveling for less? Tell us in the comments below.
See the deals we spot: Cheap flights
Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration
Learn pro tricks: Travel tips
Discover free travel: Travel rewards
Featured image: Bosnia and Herzegovina (photo credit: Luka Korica)