Affordable Travel: Finding Deals on Transportation! (pt. 2)

Airplane travel
If there are two things that cost the most amount of money while traveling, it's accommodation and transportation. Since we already addressed the former in a previous post, it's time to tackle the latter right here, right now.

When I speak to my friends about taking any kind of vacation or trip, the consensus is that no one has any money for the airfare. I'd like to dispel this sort of thinking immediately, as it has lead to a lot of people that I know missing great opportunities to travel.

So let's get to it with this burning question: how do I book airfare and other transportation for less money? We're going to go one-by-one through the common methods of travel, looking at the best ways to save.



By far, the most expensive item on this last, airplanes are both the easiest way to spend all of your budgeted money but also the best method for getting between and among continents.

Here is some of the advice that I have accumulated over the years, as well as some tips from one of my favorite travel writers, Nomadic Matt:
  • Travel during periods of time that are off-peak season and be flexible with your dates. This is a big one, as the prices of flights can really vary throughout the year and even from day-to-day.
    • By traveling during seasons that are normally busy, such as October/November or February, or by checking times that aren't popular for your destination, you will be able to take advantage of lower prices.
    • When buying your tickets, it's advised to do so during the week instead of over the weekend, as that's when flight deals are more commonly announced.
    • Finally, when booking your flight, set your arrival and departure days mid-week, on a Tuesday or Wednesday, instead of on a Saturday or Sunday. Being flexible in your schedule is a huge money-saver!
  • Compare airlines for the same trip. Using tools such as Kayak or Skyscanner has really helped me to narrow down the airlines that offer the best prices for tickets.
    • If you're looking to book a trip, start off on one of these sites, or others that are similar, in order to really get a perspective of the average prices and by finding an airline that you might not have originally been familiar with that has cheaper flights.
    • These sites often don't have budget airlines, though, so you may need to search for those separately. Which leads to the next point...
  • Fly with budget airlines when possible. While not as common in the United States (especially since we don't have a lot of budget carriers), flying with smaller airlines for cheaper is a lot easier.
    • Carriers such as EasyJet or Ryannair, to name just two, offer flights around Europe for as low as $50 USD to major cities.
    • If you can find a low-cost flight with a major airline into a European city that isn't necessarily on your itinerary, you can try to hope on a budget flight to your desired destination for cheap!
    • Just make sure to check the fees associated with those airlines, though, as they tend to charge extra for things like checked baggage or in-flight amenities.
  • Take advantage of frequent flier programs or credit card rewards. For this final tip, I suggest you look into different ways of earning miles, which can be used when traveling to pay for tickets.
    • You can earn miles by joining a frequent flier program, which can be associated to a specific airline or group of airlines, and allows you to collect miles as you travel that can then be used on future trips.
    • Additionally, check out any credit cards with travel rewards, such as earning miles or points with your purchases, or ones that offer an amount of miles upfront by signing up. Just make sure to read the fine print and do your research before signing up for any old credit card. You can check out one of our recent articles for more information!


For those of you who aren't crossing any oceans, or for anyone who wants to travel a continent once you land, renting cars or carpooling are two great ways to get around with flexibility and control.

By renting a car, you essentially have almost the same freedom of having your own car back home. But don't be fooled into thinking that you can do whatever you want. Time to go over some rules and basic tips...
  • You have to have some form of driver's license and be of a required age, depending on the rental company. This is a give-in, surely, but some companies require the main driver/renter to be at least 25 years old. If you are younger, you may still be able to rent but might have to pay an additional daily charge.
  • Car insurance is extremely important, especially when abroad. Before you rent, check first if your own insurance covers rentals. If not, I would highly suggest paying for the insurance while you have the car, as it normally covers everything up to a complete wreck.
  • When you receive and return the car, make sure to check for any damage that might have been caused. The car rental company will perform their inspections and will charge you for any damages, aside from very small scratches (depending on the company). By checking the car first and when turning it in, you will be spared any surprises.
  • Check the rules provided by the company. There are some points that will pertain to you specifically on a trip. Can you cross international borders? Do you have to return the car at the same location that you rented it? Is the mileage unlimited? Does the gas tank have to be refilled when you return it? These are all questions that you want to ask or research when renting your car.
If ever you don't want to rent, the other option is to carpool. The main service that I'm familiar with is called BlaBlaCar and allows groups of people going to the same location to hitch a ride together. One person, with the car, will post an ad on the website saying when they are leaving and where they will stop/visit, and then other riders can hitch a ride and pay the driver for gas, tolls and other fees.

For those of you who want to meet other people and join the travel community, carpooling is a great option. Heck, my mom did it and had a blast!


From experience, I can tell you that some of the most enjoyable travels I have had have taken place inside a train. While in the United States, train travel tends to be fairly expensive, traveling by train is common and more than often within my budget while I'm exploring Europe.

Anyone looking to book trains straight across the European continent can consider two options: a railpass or point-to-point travel. For a railpass, you pick that country or region in which you're looking to travel and then can jump on trains in those areas using the pass. In some countries, you may need to pay a supplemental fee or reservation fee, but for train travelers looking to score a discount, a railpass is super handy.

Point-to-point travel is more straightforward in that you buy the ticket when you arrive in a city, or ahead of time before your trip, for certain legs of the journey. Like I said, train travel is relatively less expensive in Europe, especially in areas of Eastern Europe, so you still won't end up spending a lot.


Final Notes

If there's one thing that I'd like anyone to take away from this article, and especially this series of articles, it's one that I myself learned from Matt years ago: "You do not need to be rich to travel." I personally am a young adult with crippling student loan debts and a standard 9-to-5 job, so I am by no means rich myself.

What I try to do, though, is to do my research, save my money and spend in ways that are budget-friendly and affordable.

If you guys have any of your own tips or suggestions, please send them my way in the comments below or via Twitter!

Important Terms

  1. peak/off-peak season - this is how certain times of the year are categorized, from when they're the most to least busy, respectively. As examples: summer in Italy, spring break (March) in Mexico and winter in any warm climate are all considered "peak" season. On the other hand, spending winter in Boston or August in South America, may be considered "off-peak" season."
  2. earning miles - miles are a form of points system offered by airlines to frequent fliers. When you fly with that program, for every mile that you fly, you earn one mile in points. Then, once you have accumulated a specified amount of points, you can redeem them on flights and other rewards.


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