By Nidia Gonzalez

We all see their Facebook and Instagram posts, the summer traveler. That person or family member who is always up to exciting summer adventures, and we often wonder, “How do they afford that?” The reality is that traveling on a budget is its own art. Mastering it takes an investment in research and time, but you don’t have to be a travel expert to find adventure. With these best practices you’ll be sure to go far with your money, pun intended.

Flights
Finding a good deal on a flight always seems to be the most difficult part. Prices change so often and drastically that it’s hard to distinguish what’s a good deal.

Watch for Deals Early. A good practice is watching prices for your destination a few months before you plan on booking. Using an app like Hopper to watch for these deals is easy and convenient. This app will alert you when prices have hit a new low and it allows you to watch for multiple dates.

Comparison Shop. Once you have an idea of the price you want to pay, you’re ready to book! Travel experts usually recommend booking two to three months prior to your desired travel date to get the best deals (airlines release their “sale” seat tickets a few months before the flight). There is speculation that Tuesdays are the best days to book since that’s when airlines usually start their sales, but that isn’t always the case. Keep a lookout throughout the week. Once you find your ideal flight, use a price comparison website or app to search for all possible deals. One example is Kayak. The search features on this app are easy and it allows you to book quickly to avoid missing out on your perfect deal.

Be Flexible. According to a study by FareCompare.com, the least expensive days for domestic air travel are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. If you’re traveling internationally, weekdays are cheaper than weekends. Time of day is another important factor. Early morning flights are usually the cheapest, followed by flights around lunch and dinner. The more flexible you can be with the days and times you fly, the greater the likelihood you have of capturing a great deal.

Hotels, Airbnb or Hostels?
Where you decide to stay is extremely important and could easily make or break your trip. With so many options, it’s difficult to know which one is the best deal. Reality is, where you decide to stay will depend on your travel situation. When searching for a deal on lodging, you want to consider two main factors: the price per person and your total spending.

For example, you begin to compare costs and realize that a hotel room for two people and an Airbnb costs about the same price. However, your Airbnb has a full kitchen and you’ll be able to cook a few quick meals there, ultimately saving you money on dining out, which makes the Airbnb a better value. On the other hand, if you’re traveling solo, a hostel may be the best option since you’ll have the opportunity to rent a single bed at a low price.

Considering your location is also important. You want to choose a place that is close to the main attractions. This will ultimately save you time and money on transportation.

Whichever way you find most fitting for your travel needs, some great apps to consider are Kayak, Airbnb (of course) and Hostel World – all include traveler reviews, prices, and in most cases, allow you to book your stay on the site. Overall, it’s important to find a place where you’ll feel comfortable and safe.

Things to do
Once you’re there, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do while staying on a budget. Creating an itinerary will be your best practice to keep spending in line. A great app for this is Google Trips. On top of organizing all your travel reservations in one place, this app allows you to view different activities available in the places you’re visiting. The app breaks down attractions by interest and gives you reviews on those places.

Don’t be afraid to search for free attractions! Often times these can offer unforgettable experiences while saving you money. Using discount apps will also help you save. Groupon and the Entertainment® app (included with your Arizona Federal membership) offer great deals on restaurants and attractions all around the world!

Exploring the world is fun and exciting! Having a good travel plan and following these travel tips is sure to help you get there and experience it all first-hand. The most important travel tips: have fun, live in the moment and wander.