Updated: Apr 2
There is a common misconception that you have to make (and spend) a lot of money to travel internationally. International travel doesn't have to be expensive! There are a number of ways to save when you leave the country. Here are 9 easy ways to save money when you plan your next international trip.
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1. Use travel metasearch engines
Our best friends since starting our international travel journey have been travel metasearch engines. These are websites like Expedia and Hotwire that aggregate and compare prices for flights, hotels, rental cars, etc from other travel websites. Like 75% of the rest of the world, we previously relied on platforms like Google and Expedia to help us find the best prices....until we found World Discovered Pacific.
World Discovered Pacific
World Discovered Pacific is a wholesale travel membership site, which means they give direct rates from top brands in the hotel, car, and tourism industry. What that means for us is HEAVILY discounted rates, sometimes up to 60-70% off of the public rate for hotels, rental cars, and tourism. The best part is that there is a LOWEST PRICE GUARANTEE, which means that if you happen to find a lower price on that same hotel, car, or activity elsewhere, World Discovered Pacific credits you 110% of the price difference. We have saved thousands of dollars on international travel using this travel site, especially when it comes to hotel reservations and car rentals. Want to start saving with World Discovered Pacific? Passport Noire readers can sign up for FREE HERE and get access to these same amazing discounts.
2. Subscribe to flight newsletters
Another great way to save money on international travel is to subscribe to a flight newsletter or social media page. You may have heard of websites like Scott's Cheap Flights or the Dollar Flight Club. Some of these websites offer free and paid versions of their newsletters that offer amazing and heavily discounted flight deals from the selected airport of choice. These websites act as flight trackers so we don't have to! Our travel membership through World Discovered Pacific also includes weekly emails with heavily discounted flight deals from our home airport, another amazing perk of this company! If you want to join in on the fun and incredible travel discounts with World Discovered Pacific, start here for FREE.
3. Choose destinations "close" to home
One of the easiest ways to save money on international travel is to choose international destinations that are near where you live. For example, our home-base airports are in Texas, so we decided to travel to Mexico during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you live in the Northeast, try parts of Canada. If you live in the states along the Gulf, like Florida or Georgia, try Cuba or some of the Caribbean islands. This will certainly help to reduce some of your flight costs.
4. Consider budget airlines
On my solo budget travel trip to the UK, I flew with Norwegian Air. Flying with Norwegian, I was able to fly round-trip from Boston to the UK for ~$300.00. That's a deal you simply CANNOT beat. Be prepared to skip out on in-flight meals and seat selection. There may also be baggage weight restrictions for carry-on items on these flights. If you can handle those restrictions, a budget airline may be for you. Other well known budget airlines that make international hauls include Southwest, Air Asia, WestJet and Eurowings.
5. Use rewards points or miles from travel credit cards
Travel hacking is a league on its own! There are a number of resources, like the Points Guy website, that can teach you how to travel using points and miles from travel rewards programs and credit cards. We haven't fully ventured into the travel hacking arena YET, but I do use a Bank of America travel rewards credit card that gives modest points for everyday credit card use. With this card, I've been able to snag a free round-trip international flight, and it has also helped to offset the cost of hotel stays and Uber ground transportation. Whatever you have, start making it work for you!
6. Travel during the low season
Seasoned travelers know this, but if you're looking for the lowest flight and hotel deals, travel during the low season. The low season is the time of year for your particular destination when crowds are the lowest. This could be for a number of reasons: it may the rainy season or even the cold season.
Flight prices also fluctuate around the holidays. For example, you will pay a hefty sum for flights and hotels if you are looking to travel to pretty much any destination around Christmas or New Year's Eve. Just think about it: you're competing with tourists who are looking to experience those destinations for a holiday, as well as citizens of that country who are traveling home. Do your research, and if you don't mind traveling during periods with low crowds, consider traveling during the low seasons. Or at least avoid the high season.
7. Use public transportation
An easy way to save on the cost of ride-shares, taxis, or rental cars is to use public transportation. I lived in the Northeast for a good chunk of my life, and I got really good at learning to navigate public transit. Public transit is an incredibly cheap option for travel and also allows you to experience whatever city you're in as a local. During my solo travel to the UK, I relied almost exclusively on "The Tube" to get me to where I needed to go. I also had a chance to see neighborhoods that I likely would not have experienced if I had rented a car or relied on Uber.
8. Stay in an airbnb or hostel instead of a resort or hotel
Let's face it, although resorts and hotels offer a lot of great amenities when you travel, they can get expensive! A cheaper option is to book a stay through AirBnb. This is something you probably already know, but AirBnb options offer a wonderful way to see the city through the eyes of locals, whether it's an apartment, condo, or home stay. An even cheaper option is staying in hostels. As a younger solo traveler, I relied heavily on hostels because they were great opportunities to meet new people and snag free walking tours around the city. Hostels are also incredibly inexpensive, with some running as low as $10-$20 per night.
9. Look for free excursions and activities
When you travel internationally, don't think that you have to spend a ton of money on excursions. Be on the lookout for FREE activities in your destination of choice. During my travel to Spain and Barcelona, there were a number of free walking tours around the different neighborhoods of Barcelona that we were able to participate in. Visiting national parks is also typically a free (or almost free) activity in most countries. Go for a hike, prepare a picnic, or go birdwatching. With a little bit a research, you can easily find free and budget-friendly activities to add to your excursion list.
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