I see an abundance of articles about how to travel affordably. After stumbling through the planning process for our honeymoon, I am proud to say J and I are somewhat prepping experts! Okay, we might not be experts per say, but we definitely discovered a process that will hopefully work for other travelers out there! Jeremiah will attest, I spent weeks planning for this trip; I learned that you need to have a travel plan, but you also need to have flexibility.
For some background, we went to Paris and London for our honeymoon, and definitely plan on going back!
Plan a Budget: The not so fun part. I am not a numbers person, and it was difficult to estimate how much money we needed to set aside for this trip. We looked at different flights, average costs of housing, and calculated how much food and drinks would cost in a day. We did not plan on having too much spending money, we did have to factor in entertainment, tours, and transportation. Those can add up quickly!
Have Multiple Locations and Dates in Mind: Since this was our honeymoon, we already had the dates picked out (plus or minus a few days). But the location was up for grabs, our first choice was overseas (which we were able to swing, yay!). We planned on looking into England, the Virgin Islands, and California. Quite the mix, I know, but our travel list is long, and we have a lot of variety. Choose the location that best fits your budget. For us, the flight to London was cheaper than the other two locations, so it made sense to save money on the tickets.
Go off Season and Travel on Weekdays: Research your locations in terms of peak tourist seasons and weather. If your dates are flexible, opt to take your trip off season, when prices drop, and locations are less crowded. Sure, we missed a couple of things by going during the late Fall, but we might not have been able to afford going in the Summer.
Credit Card for Miles: J and I decided to get an American Express credit card to boost our miles. Even though we don’t travel often (we are trying to change that), going overseas gave us a good base. We use our card for some of our basic expenses, pay to off, and keep using it. Hopefully, we are heading on our next adventure soon.
Plan Your Route in Advance: In Paris, we made the mistake of heading to our first destination, then not having access to internet to get to our next! Always carry a printed map, or use Google Maps and save things, so you can view them offline.
Google Calendar/iCloud Calendar: I saved our flight information, accommodation details, and any scheduled events on my iPhone. I invited J to join them, so if something happened to my phone, he would have backup on his phone or iPad. Plus, it helps to organize a trip visually!
Google Maps: As mentioned in the tips section, offline google maps will come in handy! Just make sure you save key locations, so you can view them offline.
Lonely Planet: We purchased two Lonely Planet guidebooks during the beginning phases of our trip. They had such good advice! Not only were there itinerary suggestions, but they outline a ton of different destinations and restaurants.
TripAdvisor: We read some itineraries on TripAdvisor, and it gave us a great idea of walking tours, time management, and things to book in advance.
Airbnb: We stayed at two lovely flats (one in each city)! We loved using Airbnb, it is simple, and we rented places with kitchens, so we could make coffee and breakfast in the morning. If you are looking to save money, go grocery shopping, and cook where you are staying.
Rail Europe: If you are traveling to multiple places or for an extended amount of time, I recommend researching Rail Europe. We did not purchase passes, but maybe next time we will decide it’s right for us!
Public Transit: Familiarize yourself with the city’s public transportation. We walked most of the time, but took the metro to places outside of town.