*Post updated November 2019*
The one question I got asked a lot this year was, How do you afford to travel so much?
I used to be terrified of airports, I had no clue how they worked, and honestly did not know any of the rules to flying… My have things changed because I feel like I am constantly in an airport! I am a frequent visitor of MSP, O’hare, and Logan International.
When we fly we use all these little hacks to get the most out of our trip and not to waste time in the airport or spend unnecessary amounts of moo-laaa $$
Well, here are my tips and tricks to traveling!
1- Budget BUDGET BUUUUDGEEEETTTT
Plan ahead, save your money, and put it towards experiences over materialist items. We have older models of iPhones that are paid off, car payments are almost paid off, and no school debt.
We don’t go out to eat every night, and we plan our groceries and meals.
We know the difference between an investment and impulse.. Buying a new work computer, that is an investment that will last us hopefully 5-7 years and needed to run our business. Buying new shoes, outfits, latest gadgets, those are impulse buys that we try to avoid.
If we don’t need it to survive or run the business effectively – we don’t buy it until we know we can afford it without feeling guilty. (or pay for it in cash)
We know our trips that come up, and we plan holidays with Mark’s family ahead of time so that we know roughly what time we will get to see them. That way we can save the money needed for that time.
I can’t stress enough how managing your money and spending it wisely is the most important tip I can give.
2- Flight Hacks
We use two apps consistently – SkyScanner + Just Fly + Google Flights
These apps usually find us the best deals in round trip flights.
But here is some insight to really getting a good deal……
Be Flexible on your travel days
-We are self employed with no children, (minus the cats), so we can be pretty flexible about when we fly to certain places.
The more flexible you are, generally the best deal you can get because airlines want to fill flights and last minute seats from certain airports we can get on for as little as $79 a person.
*Sometimes I can even find a flight for $25 round trip!
-Know your airports
We usually fly out of MSP (Minneapolis) or Cedar Rapids. Every once and a while I will pay the $100 extra to fly out of Waterloo because I don’t feel like driving to the airport.
MSP parking is EXTREMELY expensive – so plan ahead for that or choose the option of park and fly at a near by hotel that will let you spend the night and then park for X amount of days which is usually about $100 cheaper then airport parking.
BUT — knowing your airports can also get you a better deal because certain airports only fly certain companies and some are better hosts of those companies etc.
MSP is an international airport so we fly to Logan international in Boston (Mark’s family) for about $200 total for both of us ROUND TRIP.
Little airports such as Waterloo / Cedar rapids are convenient but also can cost more because of that and having to switch planes in a larger airport.
Don’t be afraid of non-direct flights, they can save you money in ways you probably didn’t think of…
Say we want to go to Boston, but our flight isn’t available or is super expensive..
So we book a cheap flight to Atlanta, that has a layover in Boston, but we stay in Boston and never get on that connecting flight to Atlanta.
Carry on VS Checked
Now that doesn’t work if you check luggage, because it’s going to go to your final destination. But we never check luggage, always do our carry on’s and check the policy to make sure they wont try and take our bags at the gate.
Some rumors have said that airports have picked up on this, but who is to say if you missed your connecting flight or not 😉
Generally, airlines don’t care if you miss your connecting flight and won’t do much other than rebook you and possibly charge you. (Ask us about our weather reason when we were almost stuck in Chicago….. but I got us rebooked into a different airport)
Clear your browsing history often, its tracked, its 2018 almost 2019 it should be common knowledge that anything you do on the computer, online, its forever, and its tracked. The more you’re tracked the more they want to charge you because you know you’re going to go there one way or another.
Bring a water bottle with you to the airport, yes it has to be empty when you go through TSA, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the empty bottle with you to fill up at the airport or at your destination so you’re not buying multiple bottles and wasting plastic and money on plastic.
3- App Hacks
AirBnb > Hotels
AirBnb is almost 50% cheaper than staying at your standard queen bed hotel room for a night. Plus the hosts are way more accommodating, and tell you all the local tips, food, and leave little touches of home!
We usually always stay with “Super Hosts” but as long as the host has a few great reviews and pictures we can usually be sold on it.
The app will let you set your nightly budget so you don’t over spend, and find a place in a location you want, or the minimum you need for work trips or just a place to sleep.
It has this feature called explore, you can enter any destination and it will show you the cheapest flight available to that place! You can keep your eye on locations or switch up the airports to see who can get you there cheaper! It almost feels like your stealing airfare because they can be so cheap!
4- Stay with Family
If you’re going to a destination that has family or friends ask if you can stay for a day or two, or maybe the whole time! Taking lodging out of the expense can be a solid chunk!
If you’re really lucky, maybe borrow one of their cars!
5- Public Transportation
We always take the train from the airport to Braintree when we fly to Boston. Then either a $5 cab ride or Mark’s mom will pick us up from the station.
When we do this, we are taking a shuttle from the airport, into south station, and getting on the red line – since we are already on the free shuttle we didn’t have to pay twice to get on the train – win win free 45 minute ride!
Otherwise use the buses, use the shuttles and find the cheapest place to park.
When we road trip we pack a cooler full of water, snacks, and food to cook or ready to eat.
We don’t like spending money at fast food or extra if we have perfectly good groceries we can take with us on our adventure.
Plus a couple gallon jugs of water is always a good idea to bring with you on a road trip.
When we are flying we make sure to set aside a certain amount for going out to eat, or being able to find a local grocery store to buy for the amount of time we will be there.
7- We all want to fly first class…..
But trust me, just suck it up, sit apart and you will all get to your destination the same.
This is it, really it’s just a matter of researching and planning your money wisely.
We live a life based on experiences over material items and honestly we wouldn’t have it any other way. We invest our time into learning, exploring, and capturing memories to relive it all over again. (Hehe, hence why we are professional photographers)
8- November 2019 updates with using Google Flights
Use the explore tab, don’t set a certain date, and just see where you can go in the up coming months!
Airlines are trying to fill empty seats, this is how I find cheap seats!
That even means flying to Denver, CO at 5 am, spending all day there, and then flying back to Iowa at 9 PM! But a quick one day trip, WHY NOT?! YOLO!
Love, Jamie + Mark