Self-care looks different for everyone. For some, it’s lighting a scented candle, putting on a face mask and soaking in the bathtub.. For others, it’s a time to see friends and share fun experiences. Still others feel that the best form of self-care is to achieve a complete change of scenery.
In fact, travel is an increasingly popular way to unplug and disengage. Going on a journey forces you to break the monotony of everyday life, to take in new surroundings, to live in the moment and to broaden your horizons to develop a new perspective.
But unlike a long walk or a nice chat with friends, travel costs money. And with rising inflation and higher gas prices, traveling is getting more expensive.
That doesn’t mean a restorative holiday is completely off the table. Below, travel experts share their advice for adopting travel self-care without breaking the bank.
Sign up for loyalty programs.
“One way to save money on your travel bookings is to join loyalty programs for the businesses you love to use,” said travel blogger Katie McIntosh of The Katie Show.
The next time you book a flight or hotel room, make sure you have an account with the airline, hotel chain, or third-party platform you’re using to make your reservation. This way you will earn points on your spend which you can redeem later at discounted rates. You will also be notified of upcoming sales and other deals.
“For example, in the Genius loyalty program by Booking.com, you can get bonus discounts on selected accommodations—sometimes up to 15%, and some hotels even offer free room upgrades,” McIntosh said.
Be flexible about time and place.
Flexibility is key when it comes to finding affordable travel options. Budget expert Andrea Voroch recommends several bars and places to be open to for your next trip.
“Going midweek will provide a break on accommodation and airfares because these are slow days for travel,” she said. “You should look for destinations that offer sales or even during off-peak windows to locate sales. I recommend using sites like Scott’s Cheap Flights to set up airfare sales alerts from your home airport. To see what kinds of deals pop up and then plan a trip based on the destination the sale is offering, instead of trying to plan it the other way around. “
Varch similarly recommends tracking hotel prices using sites like Hopper or Trivago.
Look in your credit card point options.
“Start converting your everyday purchases into points or miles to help make your next purchase more fun,” said Summer Hull, director of travel content at The Points Guy.
Many of us have credit cards, but we are not using the points earned to our advantage. While trading in points for cash may sound tempting, this option often gives you a much worse per-point value than when you can redeem for hotels or airfare.
“You don’t have to be a fan of all the points to get a rewards card, earn that bonus, and use those points for your next vacation,” Hull said. “Once you see how it can save you $1,000 or more—you’ll probably be interested in learning more and doing it again.”
Snag deals quickly.
“One trend we’ve seen emerging out of the pandemic is more last-minute trips,” said Casey Brogan, a consumer travel specialist at TripAdvisor. “Since there is a lot of uncertainty, passengers are waiting for booking. However, if you want to save money, this is a great time to start planning.”
If you’re ready to book in advance, you can snap good deals as you see them and track changing price patterns.
“Remember the laws of supply and demand and external factors such as increased fuel costs or supply chain or labor issues,” Brogan said. “More and more destinations around the world are starting to reopen and lift mandates, which means hotels and flights will soon be very busy – and prices could start to rise! Finally take advantage of the deals and opportunities available now for travel.”
Fly to alternate airports.
Sometimes you have to pay premium prices to fly in and out of major airports, when there are cheaper options with easy public transport access. This is especially true in Europe, but even if you’re flying to US destinations like DC or Miami, you may find lower prices for nearby airports in Baltimore or Fort Lauderdale.
“Consider flying to alternative airports,” said ParkSleepfly CEO Martin Jones. “The major cities like London and New York have many airports to choose from, aside from the most popular. The next time you are booking flights, think about getting to and from less popular airports as you usually get a better deal. will get.”
Book for shoulder season.
“If you want to visit a popular tourist destination, try to go off-season to find more availability and cheaper prices,” Brogan said.
Claire Summers, the travel blogger behind Claire’s Itchy Feet, also advocates traveling to a destination when it’s not peak season. In particular she recommended booking a trip during “shoulder season”—the time between the lowest and normal season for tourists.
“If you already know where you want to go, figure out the time between high season (high prices) and low season (usually bad weather),” she advised. “This is usually the most budget-friendly time when the weather is still nice but prices are very low.”
Don’t sleep on a local trip.
“Many people think of glamorous, far-flung destinations when they think of travel, and these types of trips tend to be expensive,” Mackintosh said. “Remember, you don’t have to go far to have a memorable travel experience. Think of nearby cities you can visit during the next long weekend with unique attractions within driving distance of where you live.” Or search museums, or look for unique events in areas near you.
Planning accommodations, day trips, and other close-up trips can help you travel more each year and bring down costs significantly.
Rent your place while you’re on the go.
Stephanie B., a travel blogger and founder of travel website Buena, suggests finding creative ways to adjust your budget to cover travel expenses.
“Rent your place as an Airbnb to make money while you travel,” she explains.
In addition to listing your location on rental sites like Airbnb, you can also consider going down the home exchange route to “The Holiday.” Lodging is often one of the biggest travel expenses, so swapping homes through services like Home Exchange is a great way to cut costs.
Cut costs with transportation.
“As gas prices are rising and there is now a shortage of rental car from traditional companies, I suggest you rent an electric car for your trip,” said travel blogger and TV host La Carmina. “For example, I rented a Tesla from Teslarents while in Miami, and it saved me hundreds on gasoline costs. There was an electric charging station right near my hotel, and I had to get an electric car during my trip. Loved being able to test-drive.”
If rental cars – electric or other – aren’t enough in your budget, choose a travel destination where you can walk or take public transportation to most of the attractions you want to visit.
Book overnight trains and flights.
“One way to save extra money when you travel is to book overnight trains to go between cities,” McIntosh said. “These are usually cheaper than a night in a hotel and offer many comfortable cabin options.”
As an added bonus, she notes, traveling overnight from one destination to another will help you maximize your daylight hours at each location. If you’re flying, book a red-eye flight. This is often the cheaper option.