The digital age is bittersweet for those of us with wanderlust. On one hand, your Instagram feed is filled with idyllic snaps from exotic locales that are merely pipe dreams due to your lack of funds. On the other, you have a million sites and apps at your finger tips, waiting to improve and simplify your travel experience—and, if you play your cards right, save you money while they're at it. Here, we're honing in on the the latest next-gen ways to keep collecting those passport stamps while staying financially healthy.
You know the classic tips for booking airfare: plan ahead, don't book on a weekend, yadda yadda—but it's important to utilize the websites and apps that will do all the scanning for you. For one, you can set up e-mail alerts. We love using Airefare Watchdog, where you can receive daily low fare alerts for as many destinations as you desire. New Orleans, Paris, and Morocco? Check. Another great tool is Hopper, an app that analyzes billions of flight prices daily to predict how prices will change and tells you when to buy your ticket.
One more trick for catching deals as they become available is to follow all the airlines you fly on Twitter and Facebook. When they're not responding to their flight delay complaints, they're announcing super-awesome deals.
Bottom Line: Now more than ever you can save on where you stay when traveling—but you've got to do your research and more than anything, be safe.
Chances are you've either experienced Airbnb firsthand or had friends sing its praises for its money-saving, live-like-a-local accommodations. If you're renting an extra room at a residence, chances are you'll have a host to show you around and, if you're lucky, even cook for you. You can survey hosts in your choice city by looking at their profiles and personal reviews.
If you're looking for accommodations to the tune of free, the Courchsurfing app might be your answer. Essentially, it's a global community of over 9 million in 120,000 cities that pairs travelers with local hosts. Now, in the past the app has an association with hook-up culture, so it's very important that you 1) Vet potential hosts thoroughly and 2) Aren't traveling alone. It's free to sign up, you just have to pay $25 to verify your identity.
Going out to eat is always relatively expensive, but even more so in touristy destinations. If you can't cook where you're staying, look to getting a home-cooked meal from a local using apps like Feastly, EatWithALocal, or Cookening. It's a great way to get an authentic taste of the culture and make new connections in a foreign city. If you're going to eat out, go on TravelZoo or download the app, which will map out local deals at restaurants and help you save up to 65%.
It's not free per se, but consider Vayable the ultimate bang for your buck. It offers unique experiences, like a walking tours or bar crawls, from locals at reasonable prices considering they're virtually priceless experiences. A midnight street food crawl in New York City? A Paris Night photography tour? A hike through Twin Peaks in San Francisco? We want to do it all.
If you're paying exorbitant fees for an international phone plan or chasing wifi at local cafes, you need to do better. As far as using your cell phone goes, WhatsApp is everything and most importantly, free. As long as you, and whoever you're communicating with have it downloaded on your phones, you can exchange free SMS texts and use its newly-minted voice-calling feature. However, you need wifi (always a hot commodity when traveling) to connect to WhatsApp. Your best bet would be subscribing to Boingo's global plan for $39 a month, which has over 1 million hotspots worldwide and even works in-flight on 15 airlines.
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