The best way to save money when you travel
When to budget like a pro—and splurge like a Kardashian.
It’s easy to fall into that YOLO mindset when planning a trip. Upgrade to Economy Plus? Sure! Book an afternoon at that dreamy spa? Yes! Go all out at that restaurant that everyone’s been posting photos of on Instagram? Duh!
But unless you have endless amounts of money to spend (hai, Kylie Jenner), sooner or later you’ll have to budget.
“I’d pay more towards the experience and activities than I would on the hotel room.”
So, what’s worth scaling back on—and what’s definitely worth the splurge?
Kait Daly and Charlotte Barillier—the founders of the millennial-focused travel agency Roam Travel Company—have very strong opinions on the matter. (After all, their job is to basically help plan trips within individual budgets.)
And their answers may surprise. Here’s what they say you should think about when you’re up against a travel budget.
Where to save: the accommodations
“If you’re going to a destination that’s once-in-a-lifetime, then sacrifice the accommodations a little bit—whether it’s booking a smaller room, forgoing the swimming pool, whatever. Because when you’re going to these incredible destinations, you’re not actually going to be [spending much time] in your room,” explains Daly.
She’s got a point: Whether you’ve got an overbooked itinerary or are just planning on spending the entire day at the beach, your bed is where you’ll likely log the fewest hours. And, as Daly frames it, “I’d pay more towards the experience and activities than I would on the hotel room.”
Where to splurge: the guide
“One of the best investments that people don’t really know about is private guiding,” says Barillier. “People are like, ‘I don’t need a private guide because last time I went to Mexico I met a local, and he was so cool,’ and that’s great, but that’s also really lucky. Licensed guides are so personable, and they know the hole-in-the-wall food spots where you can get a drink and do karaoke. Or they’ll know to take you to things in reverse: ‘Everyone’s going to the biggest temple first, so we’ll do the opposite.'”
Of course, hiring your own local BFF is, as Barillier puts it, “definitely pricey.” Not sure you can swing one for the entire trip? Get choosy about when or how a guide might be most useful to you.
“Hire a guide for just one day in each destination—in particular, towards the start of your trip, or if you want to cover a lot of land and see a bunch of stuff, that’s a good use of your money,” says Barillier. Ultimately, she promises that you won’t regret the splurge. “It’s the service that everyone’s happy about once they book it.”