I started travel hacking over two years ago. Back then, I was happy to save money on a round trip airfare. AAdvantage Miles from American Airlines were my first foray into this hobby. This made sense because American Airlines offered lots of flights out of my home airport in Philadelphia. As I learned more , I realized that there was a whole world of other points and miles that I could earn and redeem. I’ve since learned that flexibility when travel hacking is extremely important. Here’s why:
It all starts inside our heads and hearts. We all have different expectations when we travel. If you want a beach vacation, can you choose a less expensive destination that still has the sand and water you crave? Sometimes, there’s a very specific place we want to visit. Perhaps you’ve got a brand new baby to visit who just happens to live far away. Your destination in this case, is quite fixed. Ask yourself though, can I be flexible about the way in which I travel there?
How about being flexible about accommodations once you arrive? Do you really need a 5 star hotel or will a 3 or 4 star hotel be more than adequate? Maybe an Airbnb or a hostel is the way to stay flexible and save money. Always keep in mind what you hope to experience in your travels. Focus on that and be flexible about how you accomplish it.
It would be wonderful if we all had unlimited time to travel. Given that most of us don’t, we can use flexibility to score the best deals on flights, hotels and other travel. Every destination has a busy or high season when prices are at their steepest. Avoid those times if you’re able. Did you know that prices for flights can vary from day to day? If you’re flexible, you can take advantage of flying on the cheapest days of the week which are typically Tuesday and Wednesday.
Some of us like to plan far in advance and have the flexibility to do so. This strategy often results in a lower points or miles redemption. Many airlines offer “saver” fares if booked way in advance. Interestingly, the opposite is also possible. If you can travel last minute, you’re likely able to find additional discounts, especially on hotel rooms. This is because hotels would rather fill a room at a lower rate than earn nothing at all for that night.
How about the length of time of your travel adventure? Being flexible about the number of days you’re away can yield you great savings. Adding a day can often get you a free night’s accommodation in a hotel. This is the case with Marriott’s Stay 4 and Pay for 3 nights program. Airbnb hosts often give discounts if your stay a full week. Do you really need a 17 day stay? Would 14 well planned days be enough? You can use the extra 3 days for a great staycation on your return. Get creative about how you approach being flexible when traveling.
When I interviewed Tim Leffel, Author of “World’s Cheapest Destinations”, on my Travel Expert Summit, I learned that there are specific countries and regions where your money goes much further. South American countries are much cheaper to visit than Western Europe. However, go to Eastern Europe and you’ll spend less as well. If you are flexible about where you want to visit, you’ll spend less money. Again, it all comes down to adjusting your mindset about what travel means to you. Flexibility when travel hacking is the key to great savings.
It pays to stay flexible about how you get from point “A” to point “B”. Often, we assume that taking a flight is the best way to travel. Have you ever considered taking a train? Mark Smith of “The Man in Seat 61”, has devoted over ten years to researching and traveling by train all over the world. His website is a treasure trove of information about all things train related.
Mark explained to me that often, it’s cheaper to travel by train; especially in Europe. Riding on a train allows us to slow down for a bit. I loved watching the scenery out the window on my 7 hour train ride between Oslo and Bergen while I was in Norway last summer.
Think of the fun of driving onto a ferry and having a leisurely ride on the water to reach your destination. Pedal taxis and public buses are also great ways to get around while traveling. The best part is the opportunity to meet interesting people along the way.
In conclusion, I hope this has stimulated your creative juices to be more creative and have flexibility when travel hacking. Have fun figuring out the best money saving ways to travel for less. “Stay flexible my friend”.
I want to hear from you: Please scroll down and leave a comment. Tell me one way (or more) you’ve used flexibility in your travel planning.