28. Money-Saving Travel Tips

June 30, 2022

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The following article may contain affiliate links or sponsored content. This doesn’t cost you anything, and shopping or using our affiliate partners is a way to support our mission. I will never work with a brand or showcase a product that I don’t personally use or believe in.

Travel does not have to be expensive

If you dream of traveling the world, visiting exciting places, and meeting fascinating people, it doesn’t have to cost you months of paychecks.

In today’s episode, Tori guides you through a few of her favorite money saving hacks when traveling for those of us that want to see the world, but not lose our shirt in the process (unless we’re visiting the beach).

What you’ll learn:

  • How to find flight deals without stress

  • Hotels vs. Airbnb vs. hostels –– when you should choose one over the others and what to consider

  • How to travel like a feminist

  • Where to save and where to splurge

If you’ve never traveled alone before or are looking for a guide to international travel, make sure to check out our new mini-travel course, Worry-Free Wanderlust, created by our whole team of seasoned travelers and digital nomads.


Travel Mini-Course

Jo Franco’s Episode on Traveling

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Tori Dunlap (00:14):

Financial feminists, welcome back. Happy to see you. That was an Eddie Murphy. It wasn’t supposed to be, it just came out. You guys know. I made porridge and it is happy to see you. It’s not a good Eddie Murphy, but it’s an Eddie Murphy. It is happy to see you. You can’t see me, but I fully just jumped out of my chair on happy.


Okay. It is official, y’all. It is summer. It is hot girl summer. It is hashtag stock girl summer, and it has already been a lovely summer here for us at HFK. And I’m hoping yours is just as lovely. Please protect your energy. Please take care of yourself. Go on your hot girl walks, plug in Financial Feminist into your ear holes. Go on your hot girl walks. Take care of yourself please.


One of the big questions we get all year round, but especially in the summer is how our team can afford to travel so often. Our team at HK is full of travelers. So even though we are all US based, we currently as of this recording, have team members in London, France, Australia. I’m planning to trip later in this fall that I’ll talk to you about. As you all know from me bringing it up pretty much every fucking recording, I was in New York for almost two months. I was in LA before that. We have folks on the team all over the country and all over the world. It’s one of the benefits of being an entirely remote team. So as a team of travelers, as a team of travel experts, we get asked a lot how we can make travel accessible and affordable. I am notorious for sticking to a budget on trips, and I’m always hunting for a flight deal or travel hack. We have incredible tools around finding flight deals, affording travel, travel credit cards, all linked in our show notes.


But a lot of people hear the word travel hack and you either instantly feel overwhelmed or you’re just like, I don’t want to get up at 2:00 AM to fly, which I feel you so hard. Or I don’t want to fly and have 16 different connecting flights. That does not sound fun to me. And it doesn’t sound fun. So maybe it feels way too time consuming to try and book those 15 individual flights just to save a few hundred bucks or maybe the idea of a hostel makes you think about that one movie. I remember staying at a hostel when I was studying abroad in Ireland that was 17 Euro.


The travel stories, I was in a communal room with 12 other people. A man was snoring so loud and had put his socks and underwear on the radiator next to him. Y’all, we all have these stories, but I would rather give you some travel tips that avoid these kind of stories and instead get you on a beautiful boat somewhere. Or if boat’s not your thing, I don’t know, just better than underwear on a radiator in a room full of 12 strangers.


So today I’m dispelling some travel hacking myths and also dropping a few tips that I use that again, don’t include checking flight prices at exactly 3:17 AM on the third Tuesday of every month. Also, that’s made up, so please don’t do that to yourself. So let’s go ahead and get into it.


This episode is partially a sneak peek into our brand new travel mini course. We’ve built this mini course with the newbie solo traveler in mind. So if you’re finally ready to use that PTO or to try your hand at digital nomading, but you’ve either never traveled abroad or never traveled abroad alone, or just want some tips and tricks to feel confident traveling. Maybe you’ve watched me travel on social medi
a over the past couple years and you’re like, how do I do that? Well, this guide is the perfect way to ease into it without the extra stress and anxiety. With modules on everything from paperwork checklists, to packing suggestions, how to find the best flight deals, ways to get around your chosen destination. And of course, safety and budgeting tips, you can start your solo travel saga with confidence. And even if you’re not a solo traveler, this is a mini course. This is a course you’ll come back to time and time again as you continue to travel, build your trips.


You’re going to walk away with the best way to save for a trip and the best way to stick to your budget, our secret to traveling on the cheap, a more in depth beginner’s guide to travel hacking, everything you need to know to prepare for a trip and what to do once you get home, how to apply for a passport as a US Canadian or UK citizen, the complete guide to solo travel, and the key to traveling as a financial feminist, how to live out your values even when you’re traveling.


Financial Feminist listeners can save 10% on this course when you use the code FF pod at checkout. Head to the link in our show notes to get 10% off the new travel mini course with code FF pod.


Okay. So when we’re thinking about traveling on a budget, when we’re thinking about navigating travel, the number one thing to think about is that just like everything else in personal finance, it’s personal. If you don’t want to go to a museum because you’re not a museum person, don’t go to a museum. If you’re not interested in going to a particular area or going to a particular country, that’s okay. You don’t need to. I think a lot of times when we start traveling or start planning our trips, we think that there’s certain things that we have to check off. And the truth is that you need to find out what resonates with you. Take that, leave the rest.


For me and Christine, Christine’s my best friend who I travel with on our friend moon every year. If you want more information about friend moons, go check out the last episode of season one. But one of the big priorities that we have is food. Yes, we like museums. Yes, we’ll do other cultural activities. However, for Christine and I, food is the number one priority. Food is our favorite thing. So we’re constantly researching what is the best food we can get in this tiny little city or tiny little village in Italy? What is the best sandwich? What is the thing to get here and where can I get the best one of it? And that’s really our priority because we love doing that.


So whether you’re traveling on your own or traveling with somebody else, figuring out, what do I want to prioritize, what do I want to spend my time and money doing, is going to be the best tip I can give you of all. Spend your time, energy, money on the things that you really love. We’ve talked about mindful spending. We’ve talked about prioritizing our spending before. That doesn’t change when you’re traveling and it is especially important when you travel. So as we walk through these tips, constantly be thinking, how can I make this applicable to my own life? How can I make this applicable to the trip I want to have?


And again, if something is really resonating with you, make a note of that, make a mental note of that. If you’re like, I am okay taking the bus around the city I’m in all the time, but I would really like a direct flight. I want the convenience of a direct flight, because maybe you don’t love flying or maybe you don’t want the hassle of that. There’s ways that you can afford certain things that make travel better or easier for you specifically, and other things that you can trade off. So again, for Christine and I, for example, most of our money, most of our time and energy is going to be going to food. We are less concerned with other cultural activities or other excursions. Food is the priority.


Okay. Travel tip or hack number one. This is going to blow your mind. I talked about this on TikTok the other day and the video went viral because it’s so simple. It is so obvious, yet so many people don’t do this. So travel tip number one, don’t be picky about where you go. Again, Christine and I, we are planning friend moon 2019. We knew we wanted somewhere in Europe and somewhere warm. Those were our only two parameters. So when we started looking, we thought, Greece is in Europe. Greece is warm. Neither of us had spent that much time there. But then we looked and Greece was super expensive. Number one, the flight to Greece was super expensive. The second thing about Greece is it’s a bunch of islands. So if you don’t just want to stay on one island, you’re going to be figuring out transportation for back and forth, figuring out how to get to each island. And we just didn’t want that hassle. It was just going to be not only too expensive, but a lot of planning that we needed to know ahead of time.


So what we did instead is if we knew we wanted somewhere in Europe that was warm, we just knew we needed to get to Europe. Because once you’re in Europe, it’s a lot easier to travel around. So we really didn’t care where we flew into and we really didn’t care where we ended up. So what happened is if Greece doesn’t make sense for us right now, where is another warm place that sounds great? Italy. Okay. We looked at direct flights or even connecting flights from Seattle to Italy. Pretty much every flight in Italy. And again, Italy’s a huge country. We could have flown into Florence. We could have flown into Rome. We could have flown into Naples. We didn’t care. But every single city in Italy was $1000. They wanted $1,200 for that flight.


So what we did instead is we found a flight deal. We found a flight deal to London, and then we found a flight deal from London to Bari, Italy. Neither of us knew where Bari, Italy was before we started planning this trip. We had no idea. Turns out it’s in the Apulia region, which we talked about on Jo Franco’s episode, but it’s a beautiful region of Italy. We just never heard of it. So what happened was we flew to London for about $550 round trip. And then we found a $60 flight from London to Bari. That’s how you do it. If you want to travel, if you want to explore, just don’t be picky about where you go.


For me, I’m just excited to go anywhere. I’m excited to experience new cultures in a new country or even a new state. And I plan my trips around the flight deals. Literally Christine and I have planned every single friend moon. Friend moon to Costa Rica, friend moon to Italy, friend moon back to Italy and to France for two months. We’re going to Australia and New Zealand later this year. All of them were based on flight deals. We have never sat down and said, I would like to go to this place. Let’s figure it out. It was always, I want to travel with you. I want to have this experience and I know the general region or the general vibe of the trip we want to have. So in order to better afford travel, in order to make it less expensive, find those flight deals and plan your trip around those flight deals.


My other one A tip on this one is travel during the off season. I was literally looking about potentially going back to Italy for my birthday. I was researching just a couple of days ago. They want again $1000, $1500 to fly in July from Seattle to Italy. But Christine and I have traveled to Italy. The last two times we’ve traveled to Italy has both been in October and that’s not because October is a great time for us to travel. It’s because we found a good flight deal. And it turns out Italy in October is beautiful. We had immaculate weather, especially the last time we were there. I think it rained once, maybe twice. We had immaculate weather.


So when you’re thinking about traveling, especially if you’re traveling across country or internationally, don’t be picky about where you go. Plan your trips around the flight deals. Plan the trips around the general vibe of the trip you want. And try to go in the off season. Try to go when it’s going to be slightly cheaper. That’s an easy way to be able to go to destinations you’re interested in without spending a bunch of money.


Okay. Travel tip or hack number two. Think about alternate housing arrangements. Again, I’m going to bring us back to friend moon because our friend moon trips have been incredible and have been such a learning lesson in travel. We have largely only stayed in Airbnbs. And the times we haven’t stayed in Airbnbs is when hotels were actually cheaper, either cheaper because we had some points on our credit card. Again, we have some credit card recommendations in our show notes. We were able to either get an upgrade with our credit card by booking the room with that credit card, or we use points. But you need to figure out what’s actually not only of course cheapest, but what is going to make the most sense for housing during that time?


I want to dispel the myth that hostels are terrifying. I did talk about that communal hostel at the beginning, but there’s so many clean hostels, especially if you get private rooms or semi-private rooms. I stayed in a great hostel back in London when I was traveling there when I was 20 and broke. I think I paid maybe $50 a night and I split it with other people I was traveling with. So not all hostels are terrifying. Please make sure however, they have good reviews and maybe not do the communal room if you can afford not to.


And just like I said, we have been traveling a lot with Airbnbs. Especially I think traveling internationally, they often tend to be cheaper. They also really give you more of the experience of living in that place. You typically can also have a kitchen, so you’re going to save some money on food if you’re cooking at home, maybe at least cooking breakfast at home. So I think Airbnbs for us, for Christine and I, have largely been cheaper. However, as I’ve been traveling in the United States, Airbnbs has actually been sometimes more expensive. So you need to do some research. Not all hostels are scary, but also not all Airbnbs are always cheaper.


I will say that I enjoy traveling the Airbnb route, again especially if I’m international, because I get to typically meet the host. They’re typically really excited that we’re there. They’ll give us some tips and tricks about where to go, where to eat. And especially for us traveling in places like Italy and France, we literally had French mom and dad in France. These adorable, cute couple in the French countryside who would bring us pastries and spoke not a word of English. And we lovingly call them French mom and dad. So French mom and dad, if you’re listening, hello, bonjour. We really appreciate you. My bonjour came out very ridiculous, but we’re going to not cut it because it’s fine. I do know how to speak French.


Okay. So I think when you’re thinking about housing arrangements, decide your priority. Is a central location your priority? Is eating out a lot your priority? It might make sense to be in a hotel or a hostel. If you want more of that organic, actual experience of living in that place, if you want to stay in a smaller town, if you want to cook to save money, an Airbnb. An Airbnb is probably going to be the way to go.


I will say as an asterisk to all of this, yes, hotels can be lovely. However, I see a lot of people default to staying in a hotel. I traveled to Amsterdam with my parents. I literally walked through the area where all the hotels were. It was all tourists. And tourists, largely Americans, were staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Amsterdam. Please, with all of the love in the world, if you can afford to not be this person, please don’t be this person. You’re in Amsterdam or any other location for a reason, especially internationally. I want you to have the authentic experience of being there or else go stay at the Holiday Inn Express that’s two miles from your house. If you can, please don’t be these people.


In addition, typically these places are actually less safe because what happens, you’re thinking it’s a bunch of tourists. It’ll be much safer. But individuals who are interested in preying on you as a tourist will know where you hang out. They know where the tourists hang out. They know where the hotels are. So literally in this two block radius in Amsterdam, there was the Holiday Inn Express, there were a bunch of burger restaurants. They very much catered to Americans. And in that one to two block radius, you could see a bunch of shady people hanging out, waiting to potentially take tourists’ money, to prey on them.


So it’s sometimes often actually safer to again, not only have a contact in the place you’re at, a host, someone who lives in the apartment next door who is renting the place on Airbnb. But it’s also among locals who you’re just going to be less likely to be taken advantage of. But again, when you’re thinking about accommodations, when you’re thinking about housing while you’re traveling, make sure you are prioritizing the things that are important to you, while also of course being safe.


Safety leads me to an amazing number three travel hack, which is if it is safe to do so and if you can navigate it pretty easily, please take public transit. It is so much cheaper. And again, you get the feeling of being a local. Again, I just got back from eight weeks in New York. I got a TikTok comment the other day where somebody was like, I’m shocked that you’re a millionaire and you take the subway. And I’m like, yeah, the subway is the best way to navigate New York. Yes, you’re going to see rats. It’s part of the experience. Yes, it’s going to smell vaguely like urine at all times, but it’s part of the experience. I actually loved riding the subway. And not only is it so much cheaper than an Uber, $50, $60 cheaper than an Uber, but it’s also typically faster than an Uber because being in a car in New York is not an ideal situation.


However, I was also very intentional that if I was out late, if a show that I was at, if I was at a Broadway show and it got out at 11 o’clock, I knew the subway lines I could take that were going to be okay. I’m going to be safe for me. I made sure to always be in a car with multiple people. If there was a subway car with just one person, I would get out and go to another car. And if it wasn’t safe, if I knew that I couldn’t get home on a line that I felt safe on, I took an Uber or I took an alternate form of transportation. I took a taxi. So take public transit if you can, especially in the daylight. Take the bus, take the train if you can, especially through Europe.


If you’ve travel through Europe, you know how easy and safe the railway system is either in a country or between countries. I remember taking a train from Berlin to Paris, took about half a day and it was beautiful and clean and really fast and ended up being not only cheaper, but more of an experience than hopping on a plane. So if you can take public transit, please do. Just make sure you’re making a smart choice and that you budget accordingly. If you are staying out late, that is probably going to mean that you take something like an Uber or a cab to get home. Or you’re not walking home, you’re not biking home. So make sure you factor that into your budget.


All right, travel hack number four. Please learn the basics of the language of the country you’re traveling. We talked so much about this on Jo’s episode, which is episode 14. Please go back and listen. She drops so many amazing gems. But if you are traveling internationally or you’re traveling in a country that does not speak your native language, please learn the basics. Learn hello. Learn where is the bathroom please. Learn how much does this cost? I know those three phrases in multiple languages. I know them in Italian. I know them in French. I know at least enough Spanish to get by. I have a general understanding of those languages in order to communicate.


Not only of course, is this beneficial in you navigating the town, the city, the country you’re in, but like Joe mentioned on her episode, you get more respect for doing that. You get more respect for at least trying. One of the most vulnerable things you can do is show up in a country having learned as much of the language as you can, but then asking and trying and messing up and trying again. Again French mom and dad, I can’t tell you the amount of times I probably screwed up my French. I can’t tell you how many times I had to ask for their patience while I pulled out my phone to Google translate something.


However, I would not have even gotten that experience of staying in the French countryside if I hadn’t at least spoken enough French to get by, because I was in a town where no one spoke English. So in order to go to the baker
y to get my baguette in the morning, I had to use enough French to order that baguette. In order to communicate with my hosts, who are beautiful, lovely people, who are so sweet and kind, I wanted to be able to do that. I wanted to be able to communicate in the language of the country I was in residence at, because not only is it practical, it’s respectful. It’s the thing you should do. So try to learn the language.


There are specific tips that Jo gives in that previous episode, in episode 14. So please go back and listen. This woman is a polyglot. She speaks eight languages. So if anyone knows how to learn a language and learn it fast, at least again enough to get by, it’s Jo Franco. So please go back and listen to that incredible episode.


Last but not least, this is less of a hack and more of an expectation. Please shop local and shop according to your values. When you are coming to a new place, whether that is a new state, a new town, even if it’s an hour away, or if you’re going halfway across the world, I need you to vote with your dollars even when you’re traveling. I need you to support local businesses, local restaurants, local organizations, local artisans. That’s been my favorite thing to do is go to again, these tiny little towns in Europe and buy art from local artists.


Again, I walked into this tiny little town in France and bought these beautiful, it’s going to make me cry, I had the most beautiful experience with this woman who again, I walked into her shop and they were these beautiful charcoal drawings of animals, of plants and of this tiny little town that I went to. So what I did was I bought one of her framed charcoal drawings of this beautiful French town that I was in. And I can’t wait to hang it up in my house. So not only did I support her work, but I also got a beautiful, unique, one of a kind souvenir of my time there.


When I’m thinking about feminist travel, supporting local organizations, local businesses, local people, it cannot be overstated that you are a tourist, you are a visitor in this place. Please treat it with respect and also honor the people who live there. The best way to do that, as we know, is by supporting them, by giving them your energy, giving them your time, giving them your dollars. You’re also selfishly going to have a better experience for it. You’re going to have a better travel experience.


I got that beautiful story where literally this woman then gave me postcards for free of these beautiful horse charcoal drawings she drew, because I told her in French, if you speak a little bit of French, you know that the word for horse is cheval. Plural though, is chevaux. See, I still screw it up. The word for plural horses, so for horses and hair, are almost the same word and I screw them up every time. So we had this beautiful in French, en français, this beautiful back and forth where I was trying to say the word horse and couldn’t because I kept saying the word hair. So I have this beautiful story and this beautiful connection with this person. And it not only makes you feel like the main character, but you have this beautiful memory to take home with you. And of course you supported the business or the place you’re in.


I will especially say this is important if you are a tourist in an area like Hawaii, where tourists are both the lifeblood and also the life taker of the area that you’re in. Hawaii especially I think of, I’ve traveled to Hawaii many times and have really started to learn more about Hawaiian history in my past couple visits there and understanding that while tourism is incredible for Hawaii and really now is the main economic power in Hawaii, it also is incredibly damaging native Hawaiian’s ability to live on the island. A lot of tourists end up trashing the beautiful places, the beautiful national parks, the coral reefs. So as you’re traveling, please be an educated traveler. As we said again, on Joe’s episode, don’t be a basic bitch traveler. If you’re going to travel to any area, learn the language, support local businesses, be intentional about where you spend your time and where you spend your dollars.


Okay, financial feminists, we know how much you love travel content. This episode is for you. We will continue giving you more travel episodes, more how to navigate travel credit cards, how to again travel luxuriously on a budget. And if you want even more information, our travel mini course is for you. We have poured our life and all of our knowledge, my knowledge traveling, our team’s knowledge traveling, into this incredible course. And we would love to see you there. We would love for you to have these incredible travel experiences without breaking the bank and without being a basic bitch. So if that’s of interest to you, feel free to support us by purchasing the course, by engaging. And if that’s not in your budget right now, no worries. Financial Feminist is always going to be free for you.


If you love this show, if you love this content, please feel free to share it. Tag us on social media, follow us on social media. We’re @financialfeministpodcast and @herfirst100k. And as always, thank you for being here, thank you for supporting the show, and we’ll catch you later.


Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, At Her First $100K podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alina Helser, Paulina Isaac, Sophia
Cohen, Valerie Oresco, Jack Coning, and Anna Alexandra. Researched by Ariel Johnson, audio engineering by Austin Fields, promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolf and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K our guests and episode show notes, visit financialfeministpodcast.com.


Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded Her First $100K to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the New York Times, BBC, TIME, PEOPLE, CNN, New York Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, BuzzFeed, and more.

With a dedicated following of almost 250,000 on Instagram and more than 1.6 million on TikTok —and multiple instances of her story going viral—Tori’s unique take on financial advice has made her the go-to voice for ambitious millennial women. CNBC called Tori “the voice of financial confidence for women.”

An honors graduate of the University of Portland, Tori currently lives in Seattle, where she enjoys eating fried chicken, going to barre classes, and attempting to naturally work John Mulaney bits into conversation.

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