Welcome to the latest installment of the "Save, Splurge, Steal" interview series. Getting great value when I travel is always such a fun challenge for me and I love to learn how other people get the best possible experience for their available time and money. I'm asking top travel bloggers to share their expertise and I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I do!
Meet Alouise from Take Me To The World!
1.) How do you save money in order to travel?
I try to prioritize saving for travel whenever I can, which can be hard to do on a student/limited income. I have a separate savings account just for travel, and after paying any necessary bills I'll transfer the remaining money I have into my travel account. I also try not to spend money when I don't need it. For example, I don't have a smartphone, just a basic cellphone on a pay-as-you-go-plan. While it would be nice to have a smartphone I save hundreds of dollars to travel each year by using a basic cellphone instead.
2.) Everyone needs to splurge now and then – describe a time when you blew your budget and it was worth every penny.
I think travel is all about prioritizing to save money on things you don't care as much about in order to spend money things you want to. I love theater, in particular musicals, so last time I was in New York in 2010 I spent a couple hundred dollars to see three different shows on Broadway. This might seem like overspending to some people, but because musicals are something I love it was worth it.
3) There's nothing like a bargain – name your favorite great steal of a deal?
My great steal of a deal tip is to enter travel contests. Obviously there isn't a guarantee you will win, but you'll never know unless you try. By entering travel contests I've won hotel stays, airline vouchers, day tours, and my biggest prize - one all expense paid weekend trip to New Orleans. It's hard to argue with free travel.
4.) What tips do you have for a traveler to get the best value for their money?
I think it's important to do some research before you go. Traveling spur-of-the-moment can be great, but doing research to figure out the base prices for hotels, flights, and other expenses can help you prepare for how much money to spend, and what your budget should be. I'm a big fan checking attractions (like museums) for free or discount nights. I've also found that bringing along my student ID (or an International Student Identification Card) can help bring down the costs for some attractions.
Being open to different ways to travel has also helped me save money. Last spring I drove from Calgary to Toronto on a road trip with a vehicle delivery company. I paid a deposit to deliver a vehicle (that was reimbursed when the vehicle was dropped off on time without any damage), and I was reimbursed in part for the cost of gas. It was affordable way for me to visit parts of Canada I'd never seen before.
5.) Time is valuable too – how do you make every moment count?
Time is valuable, but I think it's important not to do too much when traveling. I have a rule of not planning any activities on actual travel days. If my flight is delayed or cancelled, for example, I don't have to stress about trying to get a refund for the walking tour I booked that day. The less worries I have on a travel day the better I can focus on spending my time when I get to my destination.
I also have a general guideline to choose one "must do" activity when I travel somewhere. Once I've done that activity then anything else I can see or do on travels is a bonus. This method gives me something tangible to look forward when planning my travels, and it relieves the pressure to try to see and do everything when I travel.
If you enjoyed this interview, you'll also like:
Save, Splurge, Steal Interview: TreePot Travels
Save, Splurge, Steal Interview: TrueNomads
Save, Splurge, Steal Interview: Ad-libTraveller