How to Plan a Trip & Save Money While You Do It

We are sharing how to plan a trip and save money along each step of the way, so you can do more within your budget! We give you our best trip planning tips and money saving hacks, and we have a lot of them! We take you step-by-step through our process for researching, booking, and planning a self-guided tour through any destination and share our own experiences from trips the squad is planning right now.

Our eight step planning process for how to plan a trip:

  • Step 1 – Pick a destination 
  • Step 2 – Pick your travel dates
  • Step 3 – Determine the length of trip
  • Step 4 – Get your travel buddies together
  • Step 5- Plan a loose itinerary and research transportation
  • Step 6 – Research neighborhoods and book lodging
  • Step 7- Book extras
  • Step 8 – Save for the trip

How to Plan a Trip & Save Money on Travel – Episode Transcript

1 (37s):
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today, we’re going to talk about what I do best, How to Plan a Trip and money saving techniques. During the planning process

4 (1m 5s):
Planning a trip is one of the most exciting parts of a trip other than going on it. And it’s literally something I live for. There’s a lot of research that goes into it though. And you have to do all that research because you want to make sure you get to see and do everything that you want to do. Especially because for our trips, we only have a short amount of time and we have to jam, pack everything in there, even if you’re sick and struggling with a cold, like I am today. So if you hear me cough or anything, just, you know, don’t mind me,

2 (1m 33s):
Exciting information guys. We are actually going through the trip planning process right now because we’re planning our trip to Lebanon and Dubai in January, 2020. So we thought this is going to be the perfect episode because we’re documenting what we do to bring it to you. So you can be a trip planning, money saving ninja,

4 (1m 53s):
Ooh ninja.

5 (1m 54s):
So in this episode, we’re going to take you through the planning process. Step-by-step as we do it ourselves to hopefully give you guys tips and advice on how to plan accordingly and how to save money doing it.

4 (2m 6s):
So what is the first step to plan a trip?

5 (2m 8s):
Most important is pick where you’re going Pick a destination, I

4 (2m 12s):
Guess you’ll probably need that.

5 (2m 14s):
Can’t have a trip without a place to go.

4 (2m 16s):
So how we pick our destinations there’s many different ways, but we all have our own bucket lists. And I mean, everyone has a bucket list. You see a waterfall on Instagram, or if your friend tells you about this hike they did in New Zealand or whatever it is, you know, you have your own list of in the back of your mind.

1 (2m 33s):
I feel like between the four of us, we all start throwing out ideas and whatever we Ooh, and I at the most is typically what we do next.

4 (2m 40s):
I think I DM you guys on Instagram, like random pictures. I see all the time. Like, let’s go here, let’s go here.

5 (2m 45s):
Sometimes I just ignore those. Cause they’re just outright.

6 (2m 48s):
Hey.

2 (2m 50s):
And sometimes we UHIN prices instead of locations.

5 (2m 54s):
That’s true. As a matter of fact, if we’re talking about how we’re going through the major trip planning process now for Lebanon and Dubai, January of 2020, but we are about to be going to Chicago and Chicago was picked as a destination simply for the fact that Southwest had a sale. So sometimes picking the destination we do. So keeping in mind what sales are going on by certain airlines in Chicago is one of those trips that we’re just taking, not a bucket list, place to go, but it’s not, not a place we don’t want to go.

4 (3m 24s):
Yeah, it has been on our list for a while now and then the sales pop up and there’s lots of places that you can find sales besides just your standard usual airlines like Southwest, a couple of good websites that you should be aware of. Scott’s cheap flights is a big one that always puts out sales that you can jump on real quick and save hundreds of dollars for international flights. You could also check out fair deal alert and the flight deal. There are two really good ones that have international and domestic flight sales all the time.

5 (3m 52s):
Isn’t that what you used when you had your stopover and Copenhagen?

4 (3m 57s):
No, actually you Skyscanner for that. And I was trying to figure out the cheapest way to get back from Venice after Easter weekend. And as I was looking on Skyscanner, I found there was a route through Copenhagen. So I ended up booking two different flights that went through Copenhagen and saved like 200 bucks.

5 (4m 14s):
Very nice. And he got like 12 hours in Copenhagen,

4 (4m 16s):
Fucking them hard.

5 (4m 17s):
Okay. Hey, got yourself a mini vacation within your other vacation. Yes.

2 (4m 21s):
Yeah. Another good website is via moma.com. I like that

5 (4m 25s):
One. Oh, I remember if I Alba,

1 (4m 27s):
I also want to reiterate that this step-by-step process is good for both weekend trips and international trips. So no matter how long your flight is, this works for any trip

4 (4m 39s):
Step to Pick your travel dates.

5 (4m 41s):
This one’s definitely important. And I feel it also correlates with the Pick your destination because sometimes we want to go a lot of places, but there’s certain times of the year where it’s a popular place and that’s the tourist season for it. And it’s going to be more expensive. So if you can pick the travel dates around non peak season times will definitely save you money in terms of airfare, less crowds. But I think that picking your destination and your travel dates definitely go hand in hand.

4 (5m 10s):
Yeah, it’s kind of like chicken or the egg, which one do you do first? And you could do either one first, depending on what you find

5 (5m 15s):
The most important thing about Pick your travel dates. Other than when you can actually go, if you are flexible, depending on the place that you’re going to go. No, the weather at the time that you’re planning to go. So to try this back to our trip planning process now for January, 2020, which again is Lebanon and Dubai Lebanon during the summer is very, very humid. And that’s someplace that we definitely want to avoid because of the humidity. It’s I don’t want to say it’s going to ruin the trip, but it’s definitely going to make it not as fun we’re in January. The weather is definitely not humid. There will be occasional rain, but it’s definitely going to be a lot cooler as it’s along the Mediterranean coast and then do by, we know it’s in the middle of the desert.

5 (5m 57s):
So during certain times of the year, pretty much probably. And yeah, pretty much anytime, probably from like April to September, it’s going to be in the high hundreds where in January at 75 degrees. So we pick the right time for Lebanon and Dubai based on weather when we’re going to be there.

1 (6m 13s):
And we’re not saying don’t go during a busy season. Sometimes it’s nice to go at the start of a busy season or at the end. So you don’t hit the most amount of tourists. It’s not completely packed. And you are able to enjoy the city with a little bit more space in wiggle room. Because when we were in Croatia, for example, we went to the pleat Veetsa national parks. And we were told we were there at the end of the season and we thought it was busy, but they said like a week or two prior, they had triple the amount of people there. And we just couldn’t imagine what that would be like.

2 (6m 44s):
That’s so funny because when I was in split Croatia, it was in April and I had the entire hostel to myself, like legit. It was closed down and someone had to come open it up for me.

4 (6m 55s):
And that’s the downside of going on the off season is things can be closed down and not as open as they would be during a busy season. So you just find your balance between price and fun. And then the last tip for picking your dates is you can use tools like Google flights and Skyscanner to kind of look at a month view. And it will tell you how the price changes day to day for certain flights that you’re looking for. And if you’re flexible, then you can pick a Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or whatever works best for your price and your schedule.

1 (7m 22s):
One last thing about traveling and the weather. So in 2011, my mom took us to the Philippines as a graduation gift to me. And she doesn’t like to go in June. She usually likes to go like in February, March. And she was like, you know, it’s not the best time to go. And we’re like, whatever, let’s go anyways. So we booked the trip. We go, we went during typhoon season and one of our flights, we flew back to Manila, which is the Capitol from a small island. And we flew through a typhoon and we could feel our plane hit an air pocket and us drop in the

4 (7m 56s):
Air. Oh my God. Santa would have been crying.

5 (7m 59s):
That’s the only time I’ve really been on a plane and legitimately thought like, oh wow, I could probably die right now because everybody on a screen. But nonetheless, even if you’re not going to anywhere as extreme as the Philippines, just keep in mind something as simple as a cruise, are you going to go make a cruise sometime in the month of August when we know as hurricane season, things like that. So definitely be mindful of the weather patterns of your destination during that time of year that you’re trying to go. So step three, after you’ve picked your destination and Pick your travel dates, it’s important to determine the length of your trip and how long you want to be there.

4 (8m 34s):
So Brittany and I probably do this best by looking at what we want to do. So this is where the intense research begins.

1 (8m 41s):
Yeah. We just start jotting down. All of the things that we know we have to see, and we start to use that to help determine how many days we need in each place that we’re going to go to so that we can help build our trip in general.

2 (8m 55s):
And obviously you need to make sure how many days can you actually take?

4 (8m 59s):
Yeah. The whole work thing, I guess comes

1 (9m 2s):
Not for you, Kim.

5 (9m 4s):
Well, that’s true. But if you have at least two weeks at PTL and going somewhere, most people don’t really take more than that time off. And they would think, oh, I have all this time off. Let me take two weeks. But depending on where you’re going, you might not even need that long. So that’s why actually doing the research, trying to find out, okay, these activities or sites are in this location. How long is it going to take me to see it? Because then you’re saving extra days on hotels. Maybe you could come back mid week if you don’t need to spend much more time and you have a cheaper flight that way. So determining the length of the trip based on what it is you actually plan to do and creating an itinerary definitely goes a long way.

4 (9m 40s):
Yeah. The biggest bummer would be to book your trip and then realize if you just had one more day, you could’ve done this epic thing, but you didn’t plan. Right. Or

5 (9m 48s):
We get done with everything that you wanted to do and then be sitting there spending two extra days, twiddling your thumbs because like, oh, I’ve already done it.

4 (9m 56s):
Yeah. Good point. Another thing that you can do when you preplan and plan what you’re going to do, we mentioned it earlier, but you can add in a stop over onto your trip. If it’s cheaper, if it’s easy, if you have the time, it saves you money, you can add in a long layover, stop over into another destination and make that work for your trip to

5 (10m 14s):
Yeah, Brittany and I had actually just done this on our last trip that we went on when we did the, our gate one tour along the Adriatic coast. So we ended in Slovenia. However, our tour was flying us out of Venice and

1 (10m 31s):
Saturday

5 (10m 32s):
Morning on a Saturday morning. So we,

4 (10m 34s):
Yeah,

5 (10m 35s):
So we said to ourselves, okay, well, if they’re flying us out on a Saturday and we’re already in Venice, I don’t want to fly out on a Saturday. I’ll just spend the day on my own and fly out Sunday. And obviously with the time difference, when we fly out on Sunday, we still arrive on a Sunday. So we could make it to work on Monday. So we didn’t have to pay any extra to do that because through our tour, our flights were included. So we just told them, instead of flying a Saturday, fly a Sunday and it was part of a package and we squeezed in an extra day, but definitely you’re in that part of the world and squeeze it out and see it. And believe me, you don’t need more than one day in Venice. After I did my research on it definitely realized that you don’t need more than one day in Venice in my personal opinion.

1 (11m 15s):
And speaking of like, when you’re in that part of the world, taking advantage of it, tying this back to Lebanon and Dubai, we all knew we wanted to go to Lebanon,

4 (11m 22s):
Lebanon 2020, and

1 (11m 24s):
It kept saying Lebanon. And we’re like, well, we’re in that part of the world. Why don’t we go to Dubai for a few days

4 (11m 30s):
As well?

5 (11m 31s):
Absolutely. And how much were the flights from Lebanon to Dubai? $199. Yeah. So a hundred dollars.

4 (11m 38s):
That $1.

5 (11m 39s):
Yeah. So not bad at all. So, you know, if you’re in that part of the world or somewhere close and you want to do somewhere else, definitely look into it and see if you can shorten your link at your original place that you want to be and put in a day or two somewhere else. That’s close by.

1 (11m 55s):
So step four, determine who you’re going to travel with.

5 (11m 58s):
I don’t really like traveling with you guys anymore. I’ve come to that conclusion. Huh? The Squad,

2 (12m 4s):
Is it the last episode ever?

1 (12m 7s):
No, we’re actually going to Chicago this weekend,

2 (12m 11s):
But yeah. Determine who you’re traveling with and just know, and I know that we’ve said this on other episodes, just because someone is your best friend doesn’t mean that they’re going to be your best travel companion. Keep that awareness that you just never know who you’re going to jive with when you’re traveling. Yeah.

4 (12m 27s):
For example, if you want to hike, but you’re going with someone that doesn’t like the outdoors, it might not be a good pairing or if you are more open-minded and you have someone more closed minded.

2 (12m 37s):
Yeah. Or if you’d like to wake up super early at the crack of Dawn

5 (12m 40s):
And for us, you know, traveling as a squad, one of the things that we do is we definitely share hotel rooms again, at least on the shorter weekend, getaways share rental cars. So that definitely does save on cost too. So if you can travel as a group and you’re comfortable with that after you’ve determined. Okay. I think these people are conducive and we could all mesh very well. When we travel, you could save a lot of money that way by going with a group of people. But sometimes you’d like to be the independent traveler Zaina was when she was younger. And one of the things that she liked to do to save money, traveling alone was couch surf.

2 (13m 13s):
My dad. Yeah. I don’t know. I can’t

4 (13m 15s):
Believe you did

5 (13m 15s):
That. Well, tell us what couch surfing is. Zayna for people who don’t know,

2 (13m 18s):
I don’t even know if it’s still a thing anymore. It is. It is. Okay. Gotcha. Okay. So couch surfing is a website and instead of staying, cause this is days before Airbnb came about. So you go on to couch, surfing.com and people offer up rooms or their couch, hence couch surfing for you to crash on for free. I was in Denmark once and I met up with someone via that website. He was Danish from Copenhagen and he showed me around the city. I stayed with someone in Rome and we had a bottle of wine just chilling, but it was a free place to stay. I don’t know, like I’ve met a lot of people through couch surfing. It’s cool. It’s free. You just gotta be open-minded.

5 (13m 55s):
And so you’re not traveling with somebody, but you’re sharing your experience with a local to an extent. And I remember you telling me a lot of them give you good tips and advice of what to do in the city, where to go to legitimately eat. So if you’re traveling with a group of people, you can’t do it, but if you’re the independent traveler and don’t want a hostile, that’s a good thing to do is do the couch surfing.

2 (14m 16s):
Did

4 (14m 16s):
You ever feel unsafe?

2 (14m 18s):
I always felt safe. It was always a really good time for me. So I appreciate the experiences that I’ve had. So yeah, I encourage it

1 (14m 25s):
Under the topic of determine who you’re traveling with. I am always bouncing around in my mind, like, should this trippy with just Jamal, should this trip be with The Squad? Should we add family to the trip? So I’m constantly trying to like make a balance of who I’m traveling with.

5 (14m 38s):
Yeah. Because as much as I love traveling with The Squad, you know, sometimes I was joking when I said that earlier, Kim, I would hope you would know that.

2 (14m 47s):
I just can’t imagine why you would ever want to go on a trip without me. I’m

4 (14m 50s):
So you have so much fun.

5 (14m 52s):
Sometimes I enjoy spending time with my wife a little and I hate to say that, but that’s reality. A vacation is a little bit different, but no, I, I agree with Brittany’s sentiment on that. But nonetheless, after you determine who you’re going to be traveling with the next step, step five is plan a rough draft of your daily itinerary and how to get around

4 (15m 13s):
This part. I love this part. Yeah,

1 (15m 15s):
Me

5 (15m 15s):
Too. And I just want to say before we go too far into step five, I want to say how it connects to step three, which is determined the length of your trip. So when you do your rough draft, this is where you see, okay, this is what I want to do. This is how far everything is. And you can more plan accordingly too on the amount of time and just double check and make sure that what you chose for your time is correct. Or if you need more or less,

4 (15m 37s):
Yeah, we have that list of things we want to do. And then you have to figure out how to get to those things. So on domestic trips, we do rent a car often, but on international trips hardly ever or never. So you have to figure out public transportation what the times it is that they come, how long it’s going to take you to get there, to figure out what you can even accomplish in a single day.

1 (15m 56s):
Yes. I actually have a pro tip for this portion.

4 (15m 59s):
Please tell it.

1 (15m 60s):
Yes. So for example, for Japan, I went on to a travel website that does the guided tours and I pulled their highlight.

4 (16m 9s):
Ooh.

1 (16m 10s):
And Yeah, I pulled their highlights. And so I figured when you go on those guided tours, they take you to the Macies the highlights of the city. So I just made a list of all of those and just checked into them, myself

4 (16m 23s):
And the hotels too.

1 (16m 24s):
Yes. And so that helped me plan my daily itinerary a lot better.

2 (16m 29s):
And one thing that I just want to say is that if you are going with a group or even, you know, just one other person, make sure that you’re throwing your ideas out there and they are throwing their ideas out there. And if you say that you don’t care and you let the other person plan it or they say they don’t care and they want you to plan it. That’s cool. But you’re also giving up your right to complain because if you aren’t willing to do the work, then I don’t think that you have a right to complain about it. You know, take responsibility.

1 (16m 59s):
When we went to Japan again, I put out a Google document saying like, Hey, what do you guys want to do at each of the cities? And really not many people commented back, our friend Casha that went with us to Japan. She said, I know for sure, we want to go to Mount Fuji one day, but that’s like, all we really want to do. So anything else you do we’re cool with, which was great. Cause then I just planned everything, but I was open to suggestion so anyone can put them in. Yeah,

5 (17m 21s):
Yeah. Tying it back to the Mount Fuji thing that goes into again, seeing what it is that you want to do. So Mount Fuji is closest to Tokyo in terms of major cities. So if you’re going to Japan, you’re obviously going to be in Tokyo. But if you really look into it, you will realize that that is a complete full day trip to go to Mount Fuji from Tokyo. So whatever time you thought you would need in Tokyo to just see the highlights of Tokyo, we knew, we had to say, okay, we need one more day because Mount Fuji is going to take a full day. Whereas you don’t want to just get there and say, oh, I want to go to Mount Fuji and then do it and then realize, okay, I have less time now in Tokyo to do the other stuff. And you’re bound by flights or train tickets. Yeah.

4 (17m 57s):
Yeah. I like to also look at how much things cost the insurance fees, the train tickets, anything that has a cost associated with it. So I kind of know how much I’m planning to budget for transportation, food, drinks, hotels, whatever else. And then by the end of my itinerary, it’s like a fully built out fucking travel agent shit over here. And it’s amazing.

1 (18m 17s):
So I know that when we were in London, for example, London has a really great Metro system, the tube,

4 (18m 23s):
The

1 (18m 24s):
Tube, the tube, and Jamal, pre-purchased a card called the oyster card. Do you want to tell us a little bit about the oyster card Jamal?

5 (18m 32s):
Oh, well sure. The oyster card is basically a card that you can get as a tourist. And I had ordered it before we left, which we do for a lot of things before we go, if we’re going to have entrance tickets, like I believe Kim was saying, you know, she’ll tally up the totals of what things are going to cost, but anything that we can buy beforehand, we definitely do. So we did that with the oyster card and you basically pay a preloaded amount onto the card and it’s good for your Metro or tube fairs or subway, whatever you want to call it. But the good news about it is when you use that card, whatever the normal fare is, you won’t pay that price. It’s actually going to be cheaper. And if you hit a certain cost in the day that you use, it will actually cap you.

5 (19m 16s):
So all your future rides for the rest of the day are free.

1 (19m 22s):
Yeah.

5 (19m 23s):
So that’s definitely something to take into consideration too, on when you’re planning and figuring out your transportation. And that’s a definitely a good way to save money because if we actually paid out of pocket one, we wouldn’t have been capped to, we would have been painful price. So the oyster card was good.

2 (19m 38s):
And what was really great about that was I ended up going to London a little bit less than six months after you guys. And so I just took your guys’s oyster card, so I didn’t have to order it online. And I just had to fill it with my own money to ride the system. So if you know someone who’s been to someplace before you, maybe you can borrow their stuff. Yeah.

4 (19m 57s):
Well, that’s also, that’s just a really good point in general. If, if you know someone that’s spent somewhere ask them for all of the details, would you do what was worth it? How did you get around? You can do all the research online, but hearing it from someone that’s done, it is the most valuable.

5 (20m 10s):
And certainly in step five, back around to our planning of Lebanon and Dubai, you know, step five here, we’re talking about plan, a rough draft or your daily itinerary and how to get around. So we do know in Lebanon, they don’t really have any sort of mass transportation system. They have buses, but I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily even reliable in terms of where they specifically go. They go to general areas, but not necessarily set stops.

2 (20m 33s):
You want to know what it’s like. You go to a big station and then they have these buses where it fits maybe like eight people. It’s kind of like a van and you tell them where you want to go. And then they throw you in the car that is going to be going in that general direction. And then the first person who says where they want to go, that’s where they designate that that car is going to be going to that area.

5 (20m 53s):
So really chaotic as you can see. So he definitely didn’t want to travel with that situation. So we know some things that we are definitely going to plan to do in Lebanon, which is go to one of their mountainous cave systems, where they have stalagmites to lag tights. They have a place called heresa, which is almost, I want to say their version of Christ, the Redeemer that you see in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, except it’s not Christ. It’s the Virgin Mary big, nice statue on a mountain. And we do want to go to this one particular waterfall. That’s really, really scenic. And since they don’t have good mass transportation, we are going to be hiring a driver for the day.

5 (21m 33s):
So since they’re all closed, we could start north and work our way to south back down. We’re going to do that all in one day to jam packet, since Lebanon is a small country. And on top of that, that gives us more days to do other things. And to now we don’t have to hire a driver each and every day, which will cost more than just hiring a driver. One time you

2 (21m 51s):
Guys, it’s going to be so fun.

1 (21m 53s):
Yes it is. And when I plan my daily itineraries, I usually plan either like north to south or east to west. For example, when we went to Kyoto, we wanted to go to the bamboo forest and the bamboo forest is on the outskirts of town. And so we figured why don’t we start our day there? And while I was researching that area, I actually found out there was a monkey park there. So we squeezed that into, and from there, we started to head back into the main city. So when you’re planning out your day, think about timeframes, think about locations where things are, so you can get the most out of your day as well because in Kyoto, they only had a bus system. Well, they did have a, a two line Metro, but it wasn’t very effective.

1 (22m 35s):
So you have to think like how long is it gonna take me to travel on bus all day between destinations and whatnot versus in Tokyo, they have a amazing Metro system. So no matter where you go, you can get there very, very quickly and you don’t have to worry about timeframes so much. And in Tokyo they had a three-day Metro pass. So anytime you go to a new area, find out to see if they have deals for tourists, because sometimes they have 24 hour bus pass or Metro pass at a discounted rate that you can get.

4 (23m 2s):
I know mom and dad, have you looked up the rail system in Chicago

1 (23m 6s):
Partially.

4 (23m 8s):
He still have a couple of days

5 (23m 9s):
Partially. Yes, we have looked at up, but we haven’t done it extensively for basically one reason in particular where we’re staying is pretty close to downtown, not necessarily walkable, but we only need to take one line into downtown from wherever we’re going to be going. And that’s pretty much the cluster of where we’re going to be staying. And then on top of that, we are going to be going to Indiana dunes national park. So we’re going to rent a car one day and drive. So I don’t think we’re going to be using the Metro as much. And that’s why we haven’t really looked into Chicago too much in terms of their system or anything. But I’ve been looking into Dubai as a matter of fact, seen where their Metro system goes from the, and we’re talking about staying at Atlantis, the Palm out there, we’re

1 (23m 50s):
Talking about,

5 (23m 51s):
Well, we are staying there. Let’s put it that I’ve seen talking about. Cause two people, I won’t say who book their hotel yet. Yeah. Even though Brittany and I have, but that’s what I mean by that. But nonetheless, the Metro doesn’t go out to the Palm. They have a monorail. So I’ve already started to kind of look into that, figure out, is it worth it to take the mass transit? The taxi is doing the research to figure out cost of taxis. One tip that I’ve learned. They have Uber out there in Dubai, but Uber is more expensive than the taxis. Can you believe that? So not even going to bother to take an Uber. That’s a good

1 (24m 21s):
Tip. Yeah.

2 (24m 23s):
Another thing too is although Jamal was saying purchase in advance, cause it might be cheaper. There are some things where it might not necessarily be cheaper to book in advance, but it’s worth it to book it in advance like Disneyland tickets for Shanghai Disney or when we went to Tokyo Disney, it’s chaotic to have to buy tickets the morning of, and so you’re going to pay the exact same price online and it’s just worth it to save the time.

5 (24m 47s):
Yeah, I agree. It’s like we’re example and Brittany and I were in Paris and we bought our lube tickets or tickets to the Eiffel tower. We already had our set time that we were going to go pick up the tickets to go to the loo of go to the top of the Eiffel tower. But one other thing I want to circle back around. As I know, Brittany mentioned the oyster card, which I then talked about. She mentioned the three day Metro pass in Tokyo, but a lot of places, again, most recently we did Japan. They have their Jr rail pass. Which one you actually do have to book in advance, but it saves you money on the travel because it’s a flat rate for unlimited use of their train system, same situation for Europe. They have the Euro rail. So when we went to Europe, if you’re going to be going from country to country and not flying, you can get those in advance.

5 (25m 29s):
They’re more geared for tourists. They’re cheaper than if you one were to buy them there and you can get them for a flat cost unlimited use.

4 (25m 36s):
The one thing that I found in Europe, I looked at the Coliseum ahead of time. It was great to have my own time, but there was a service fee online. And then we did not book the Vatican ahead of time. And then we were in line to buy it and someone gave us free tickets.

5 (25m 50s):
Oh, you got lucky. That’s nice.

4 (25m 52s):
So you could gamble and it would work out

5 (25m 55s):
For you on that one though. Yeah.

1 (25m 56s):
So step six, book lodging based on the area that’s most accessible to get around

4 (26m 1s):
Or has the coolest vibe That’s important.

5 (26m 6s):
But I say that with love,

2 (26m 8s):
Like when we went to Tokyo, we were outskirts of Tokyo, but we were right next to a Metro line. And so why pay more to be more in the city when we’re right there,

1 (26m 21s):
We picked that specific area in Tokyo. The reason why was because it was really close and had a direct bus line to Tokyo Disneyland,

4 (26m 29s):
Ooh priority.

5 (26m 30s):
And we did go to Tokyo Disneyland, but beyond that Zaina was right originally when she said it was on the outskirts of Tokyo. So not as expensive as being Tokyo center, but we didn’t need it for two reasons. One again, we were going to Tokyo Disney have the direct bus line that was right there. And on top of that, we were by a Metro line, even though we were on the outskirts, that was the main Metro line. So we could catch any transfer to any other line from there. So substantially cheaper to be on the outskirts. And it didn’t really matter being close to the city because of how cheap it was going to be in terms of travel cost on the Metro. Since we had that three day unlimited pass,

4 (27m 10s):
When I took my recent trip to Rome, we were trying to figure out what neighborhood to stay in. And there were some central popular neighborhoods close by the Coliseum and everything else, but they were more expensive by a few hundred dollars for lodging. So we figured out hotel versus Airbnb. Airbnb was going to be our cheapest place. And we figured out a terminate station. Neighborhood was actually much, much cheaper and more central for backpackers. Any time you find a neighborhood for backpackers, it’s always going to be cheaper. So we kind of looked at the map to see how long it would take to walk to where we’re going. 30 ish minutes, not a big deal. You get to see the city while you’re walking too. It’s also close to a train station. If you’re going to be going in and out of different cities and you saved money on lodging.

4 (27m 50s):
So for all of those reasons, that’s the neighborhood that we chose rather than splurging on a more central location and wasting hundreds of dollars.

1 (27m 57s):
Yeah. We had a similar experience when we went to Amsterdam, Jamal and I actually stayed in the outskirts and it was about a two mile walk into the city, about 30 minutes. And we just said, okay, you know what? We’re going to walk the city every single day instead of staying in downtown, because it was so much cheaper to stay on the outside.

4 (28m 16s):
You get the added benefit of steps that offsets all of the, what’s the word I’m looking for. Yes.

5 (28m 25s):
Yeah. But no, it really worked well for Amsterdam because one it’s a walkable city. It’s a city made to be walked or biked in. They love their bikes and then another lens. But nonetheless, we did walk it and an Amsterdam just as well, staying on the outskirts saves you a lot of money. And by a lot, I mean, it was at least half the price. Maybe even a little bit more off than that. If we were going to stay any closer, but they don’t really have a Metro. They have a above ground light rail, but that’s a lot closer to the central rings of downtown. So we didn’t even really have access to that. But nonetheless saved a lot of money. Walk the city it’s an experience in and of itself.

4 (29m 1s):
And then as you’re also trying to figure out where to stay, like I said before, look into your options for lodging there’s hostels, there’s hotels, there’s Airbnb couch

1 (29m 9s):
Surfing.

4 (29m 10s):
And depending on the destination, you’re going to may be more equipped for one or the other. For example, Dubai, we’re not going to stay in an Airbnb. We’re going to stay in a resort. Whereas like I said, for Italy, we stayed in Airbnbs the whole time. So it’s just see what’s out there and see what’s best for you.

1 (29m 26s):
Another thing to keep in mind too, is if you have family in the area, be open to staying with them for a few days, it will save on hotel costs. You don’t have to stay with them for the entire amount of time. Of course, if you can’t stand to stay with them for the entire amount of time,

4 (29m 39s):
All of our families,

1 (29m 41s):
But it’s, you know, it’s an option to see them and have time with them and experience life like they would in that city, but also save money while you’re doing.

4 (29m 50s):
We’ll be staying with your sister in Dallas coming up pretty soon. Actually

1 (29m 54s):
We are, we’re staying two nights with my sister and one night in Arkansas on her trip to hot Springs, national park. And when we’re in Lebanon, we’re actually staying with Jamal and Dena’s cousin. Well, he gave us his flat to stay in while

2 (30m 8s):
We’re there. Preemptive, shout out. Thanks Walid.

4 (30m 10s):
Thanks Walid.

2 (30m 12s):
And then another tip too is if you’re going someplace, if you know anyone there, it doesn’t even have to be family. Maybe you went to high school with this person and you just briefly know them. No, but seriously, you know, reach out and just let them know that, Hey, I’m going to be in the area. It’d be cool to meet up with you. Is there anything that you can recommend because people want to help you out and you never know what’s going to happen. I’ve got a lot of crazy stories about that, but this isn’t the time and place.

5 (30m 39s):
Any last thoughts on step six, ladies?

4 (30m 42s):
Nope. We got our lodging book. Let’s move on. Step

2 (30m 44s):
Seven.

5 (30m 45s):
The extra does, what are the extras? One rental car,

1 (30m 50s):
Two museums attractions,

2 (30m 52s):
Three Viator.

4 (30m 54s):
That wars excursion, you have activities

5 (30m 56s):
By it or was my definite go-to for tours and activities and other cities

4 (31m 1s):
To be pretty solid across the globe.

5 (31m 3s):
Yeah. I love it. I’m looking at some for Lebanon to go out to Baalbek because that’s pretty far out there and you know, I don’t want to rent a car. I’d rather much go to that place on a guided tour and actually get the historical lecture

4 (31m 16s):
If you will. That comes with it. Yeah.

5 (31m 18s):
Going back to the Book, extras, rental car, depending on where you’re going, you might not need it. Especially if you’re in a city like London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, where they have a good subway, Metro system, mass transportation. You’re definitely not going to need it, but any place here in the United States, more often than not, you’re going to need a rental car. So we definitely do that. And I just want to circle back around to a tip that we had given in one of our other episodes, episode four, which was how to travel more often, we gave a little tip about when we rent cars, when it becomes a week before our travel date, we’ll relook at the prices. And definitely a lot of times we’ll find it cheaper. And after we had had that episode air, one of our listeners actually told us, wow, I actually saved 50 bucks by doing that.

5 (32m 4s):
So that’s something that we still do to this day is look at the rental cars. So we’re going to be coming to Chicago here pretty soon. Believe me tonight or tomorrow, we’re going to re-look to make sure the rental car is not cheaper than save some more money that way. Are we

2 (32m 17s):
Renting the car in

5 (32m 18s):
Chicago? Yeah.

1 (32m 18s):
Yeah. To get to Indiana sand dunes national park, because it’s an Indiana.

2 (32m 22s):
We have talked about this several times. I’m sorry.

4 (32m 26s):
You know what I discovered through my research that

1 (32m 28s):
We’re going to Indiana.

4 (32m 30s):
Yeah, that’s true. I did. But also it’s called Indiana dunes. National park. Not in the NSN dunes.

5 (32m 36s):
Thank you for correcting me. I keep saying sand dunes because they are sand on lake Michigan. Hey,

2 (32m 40s):
Pop quiz, guys. Anyone but Jamal. What’s the capital of Indiana.

1 (32m 44s):
Indianapolis. Good

2 (32m 45s):
Job.

5 (32m 46s):
So hard. I

4 (32m 48s):
Didn’t know it.

2 (32m 50s):
That’s okay. What’s the capital of Illinois Moving on.

4 (32m 54s):
I’m not good with my capsule

2 (32m 56s):
Springfield.

1 (32m 57s):
So as Dana was saying earlier, you can book a lot of tickets online and it may not be cheaper in price, but it does give you the convenience of not having to wait in the line to buy the ticket.

4 (33m 10s):
Time is money.

1 (33m 11s):
Time is money. I remember going to the loop and there was a huge line just to get the tickets and then another line to enter the museum. And we had a special entrance because we had purchased our ticket online

2 (33m 24s):
Or how about when we were in Japan at Disneyland and we already had our tickets and cash and Ryan had to go buy others. And so we went ahead and they had to plan on catching up with us.

4 (33m 35s):
Ooh Casha if you’re listening, take this

2 (33m 37s):
Tip. We love you girl.

5 (33m 40s):
Buy those tickets in advance.

1 (33m 42s):
That’s the same thing happened in China too. They bought their tickets in line there, but we saved their spot in line for them re

4 (33m 48s):
The Travel buddies are for.

5 (33m 50s):
Yeah, but like I said earlier in Brittany just mentioned, we did it when we bought tickets to the loo Eiffel tower, Disneyland, as we’re talking about, but anything that you want to do, if it has an entrance fee, see if you can buy the ticket online, doesn’t matter what it is. Kim said, time is money. Save yourself time. And if you plan your trip far enough in advance, yes, it’s still an expense of the trip, but you’re not spending that money all at once. So it definitely makes the trip feel and seem more affordable that way.

1 (34m 21s):
And some tours do sell out in advance. So if you’re waiting till the last minute, there’s a chance that a tour or an attraction can sell out and you’re not able to do it if you don’t buy it in advance.

2 (34m 31s):
Yeah. I remember my supervisor. She went to antelope canyon and on the way there, she texted me if she needs to get tickets in advance. And I was like book online girl book online. And so her and her family were separated because it was sold out.

1 (34m 44s):
Yeah,

4 (34m 45s):
That’s a bummer.

1 (34m 46s):
So one other tip too, if you’re traveling with a group, have one person buy tickets for your attraction so that you guys can stick together because sometimes tours do sell out and you are separated. If you booked together as a group, you’re more likely to be put together.

5 (34m 60s):
We’re likely to be put together. And depending on how many people in your group, you may get a mass discount because the do do group discounts. Not that I don’t think we ever get any for four or more, but

4 (35m 11s):
Now accepting applications to grow The Squad. Yeah. For that discount.

5 (35m 16s):
No, but again, our upcoming trip that we keep talking about to Chicago, we did that four hour riverboat tour or the architecture tour throughout downtown, because they have two tours at the same time leaving from different dock. So we said to ourselves, wow, if Brittany and I buy our tickets together and Kim and Zayna buy their separately, who’s to say, we’re going to be on the boat because they could be buying for the same time, but be put on the different boat.

1 (35m 41s):
I truly bought it for the four of us because I don’t trust the Gina and Kim to go online

4 (35m 47s):
And

1 (35m 47s):
Buy their own tickets and be like texting me separately. Which doc did you guys say? What time are we going?

4 (35m 53s):
Low.

2 (35m 54s):
I concur.

4 (35m 56s):
There’s also rooftop bars that you have to think about in every city. You go to

1 (36m 1s):
Everyone or just you.

4 (36m 2s):
I mean, I’ll do that. That’s my part in The Squad. I own that. Okay. And I got you guys as bad.

5 (36m 7s):
I know. I’m glad that you, because you know what? I always enjoy the experience when we hit up a rooftop bar. Okay. If Kim wasn’t here to pressure me to be a rooftop bar person, I wouldn’t be a rooftop bar person, but I am because Kim loves it. And she’s part of the squad, right?

2 (36m 19s):
Because they have Moscow mules and peanut coladas and fireball shot.

4 (36m 26s):
Whoa,

5 (36m 30s):
She’s going to say, give me the Jaeger.

2 (36m 32s):
Anyway. I remember when I used to download those Jaeger,

5 (36m 35s):
Just give me an old fashioned. I’ll be happy. It’s classy at a rooftop bar. You wouldn’t be classy at rooftop rooftop, Zeno.

1 (36m 40s):
Kim, what is your favorite, Kim? What is your favorite rooftop bar that you’ve ever been to?

4 (36m 45s):
Ooh, good question. Stumped me here. I loved them

5 (36m 49s):
All so much that

4 (36m 51s):
I would probably say the Americana building in Mexico city because it was cheap. And I love that. And the view, the 360 view and the view from the bathroom was just so good.

2 (37m 2s):
You know, it was really fun, but I vaguely remember this was on St. Patty’s day when we were in Cuba and we were at the club with the cannons and they had a roof and they didn’t have a bar on there, but they had a roof. And I remember going to the top and taking pictures. We

4 (37m 15s):
Had drinks on the roof

2 (37m 16s):
Though. We did. And it was a really, like I said, it’s vaguely, vaguely in my mind, but it was a good time.

1 (37m 22s):
We are planning to hit up to rooftop bars in Chicago at a minimum

4 (37m 25s):
Minimum, two per city

2 (37m 28s):
Look out, we’re coming.

4 (37m 30s):
You have all of your activities and tickets booked. Then you have to start saving. And that is next step, step eight, Save. Oh, our last step. So I mentioned before, I like to kind of note how much things are going to cost. If I haven’t pre-purchased them things like transportation, activities, even food. I like to estimate, okay. A drinks about $5. I’m probably going to have about 20 a day. So that

1 (37m 54s):
Installers and drinks.

4 (37m 56s):
No, I’m kidding. Maybe. But yeah. So then I have an estimate. I know about how much I should bring to kind of figure how much I should budget for planned for and not have any surprises at the end of the trip.

2 (38m 6s):
Kim, if you were looking to do 20 drinks a day, you should have gone to Africa. Man, wouldn’t be spending more than 20 minutes.

1 (38m 12s):
Africa

4 (38m 14s):
Never lived that down.

1 (38m 15s):
I think I mentioned this in a previous episode, probably episode four, how to travel more often, I do budget for travel. So there is a set amount of money that I put in a travel bank account each month. And so usually I know how much I’m going to be pulling from that at each trip and kind of have a rough estimate. But I do think what you said, Kim, that noting cost of things. That’s a really great tip and then paying for things in advance so that it’s not coming all out at once.

4 (38m 41s):
Oh yeah. I love that. So we already bugged Lebanon and Dubai, which is a big chunk of change. When that trip finally comes up in January, it’ll be like, we haven’t spent anything. So

5 (38m 51s):
It’s already paid for.

4 (38m 51s):
Yeah. I love that. So that’s another good tip to book in advance.

1 (38m 55s):
Yeah. Spoken, advance, get things out of the way. You might focus on your flights first. Then next month you have a little extra change book, your hotels. The month after that, you know, if you’re planning far in advance, book your extras, it’s a good way to plan things out and help spread the costs around.

4 (39m 9s):
Cool. And then a few last tips about planning and saving money. We already mentioned that you can look at rental car prices and just keep on going through your planning process. It can seem like a lot of work up front, but then you start ticking away at it and you get more and more excited as the trip comes up and boom, boom, boom. You’re there. And you’re having fun before

2 (39m 28s):
Words for you guys. Keep on keeping on,

1 (39m 33s):
On the note of rental cars and whatnot. Also re-look at hotel prices. If you happen to book a refundable hotel room, it never hurts to go back online and re-look at prices. See if there’s anything cheaper. If prices drop sometimes with Expedia, I’ll get an email saying prices dropped in an area. So I’ll go back and rebook.

5 (39m 52s):
Well, on top of that, speaking about hotel prices, one thing that Brittany and I do, and I know Zana, does Kim, do you use Ebates?

4 (40m 0s):
Yeah.

5 (40m 1s):
So if any of you guys are unfamiliar with what Ebates is, it’s basically a website where you almost use it as your shopping platform. So if you want to shop through Expedia, Macy’s other Sephora, other big name retailers, if you will, or even again, travel companies, cause we’re talking Expedia, we book our hotels through there and it gives you a cash back percentage. And every quarter I believe it is, they send you a check back. So say for example, when we book hotels through Expedia, we’ll book it through Ebates and maybe sometimes Ebates is offering 5% cash back.

4 (40m 39s):
Sometimes it’s like 9%.

5 (40m 40s):
Yeah. It gets high on St. Five being modest, but it definitely can be higher, but let’s just say it’s at that 10% cash back and you book a hotel room for $200. Well there’s 20 bucks right there. There’s your, there’s your 10%. So we definitely do that as well. And anybody who is booking through Expedia, I highly urge you to use Ebates and register and account for it because even just in general, shopping for other everyday items, even non travel, you will get that cash back via check. And you could even apply that cash back towards your travel per

2 (41m 13s):
An easier way to describe it is basically if you go to ebates.com, you’re going to have a list of every place that you can shop online and they get credit for referring you to their site. So they’re redirecting you to the site and they’re sharing the money that they get for referring you

4 (41m 28s):
A couple of new things about Ebates though. They changed their name to Rakuten. And if that’s how it’s pronounced, you can still go ebates.com. It’ll redirect you there. They also have a Google Chrome plugin that when you’re on any site, it will pop up just like the honey and you can click to activate. So you actually don’t have to go to Ebates first and then go.

5 (41m 47s):
I heard of that app through Chrome and I haven’t used it yet.

4 (41m 50s):
Oh, get the Chrome plugin. Yeah,

5 (41m 52s):
Yeah, definitely will do.

4 (41m 54s):
I was just looking on Expedia today for Miami hotel and it popped up saying activate.

5 (41m 60s):
And another last thing to keep in mind. I know I speak for all of us when we say we love Southwest, just because of the low, low fares that they do have. And the snacks Southwest is really, really good at reimbursing you in some sort of way. If your ticket fares go down and they always have flash sales. So even though you buy it for cheap, it could be cheaper before your trip. And as a matter of fact on Chicago coming up here, the prices had gotten lower. I called Southwest and I told the person that I spoke to, that I see the rates have gone down from the time that I bought it and they don’t give me the credit directly back to me as a cash reimbursement. But on my next purchase through Southwest, you have a confirmation number and you put in that confirmation number when you book and they’ll give you the fare difference.

5 (42m 45s):
So you can also save money on your next flights by looking to see if your prices have gone down on any future flights that you have and get it when it’s at the absolute lowest.

4 (42m 53s):
Okay.

1 (42m 54s):
So now we are at Kim’s favorite part of the episode,

4 (42m 59s):
Question time,

7 (43m 0s):
Questions of the

5 (43m 1s):
Week.

4 (43m 4s):
That’s a good question.

5 (43m 10s):
All right. So what questions did we get this

4 (43m 11s):
Week? So on our Instagram, we got a couple of questions. And the first one that we got is what travel credit cards do you guys use? So what are you guys?

5 (43m 20s):
Well, for me, I specifically use my chase Sapphire reserve travel credit card, and I absolutely love it. It does have a high annual fee, which I’m not the type of person to like to pay annual fees for cards. However, the amount of perks that you get with the card actually pays your fee back. So one thing about the card that I absolutely love is each year they give me a $300 travel credit. So whether I book an airplane ticket, train ticket, even pay for parking in the city hotel, et cetera, that counts as travel. So if I spend less than $300, let’s just say on an airplane ticket, I buy myself like a $99 Southwest ticket.

5 (44m 1s):
They’ll give me $99 back as a statement credit up until the point where I hit 300 and travel. So it definitely pays me back on top of that. It gives me lounge access in the airport. So when Brittany and I travel and have long layovers, we get to go into the lounges, get free drinks, free food. That definitely saves me money that way as well. And on top of that, the points that we get back just paid in full for our hotel in Dubai, when we’re staying at Atlantis at the pond. So that’s the chase Sapphire reserve, like I said, has an expensive annual fee that it’s $450. But like I said, you get that $300 statement credit for travel, which we always hit.

5 (44m 42s):
So now I’m $150 out of pocket. But again, in terms of the extra benefits and perks and I just listed a tiny, tiny few, the one 50 is minuscule. And I feel like with the amount of travel that we do, the lounge access is worth $150.

4 (44m 56s):
Do they also reimburse you every five years for global entry?

5 (45m 0s):
Yes. Thank you for reminding me of that. Yeah. Every five years, which is how long your global entry would last for. They reimburse you for that just as,

4 (45m 8s):
Yeah, by the way, that’s a good travel tip is global entry that will save you some time and headache right there.

5 (45m 15s):
Well, what about your travel credit card? Cause I know you have one that you’d like to use. Okay.

4 (45m 19s):
Yeah. I got the chase card through Southwest and I think I got 60,000 points for signing up, which is several free flights. And then I got five drink tickets, which is awesome. Yeah. And I love it. So I get one point for everything I buy and I pretty much put everything on it and then just pay it off and then two points for every Southwest purchase and I fly Southwest all the time. So yeah, I’m just racking those points up. I actually just got a free flight home to Sacramento for Christmas three points.

5 (45m 47s):
I remember you saying you were getting the free flights and a couple of trips. I think when you went to new Orleans, wasn’t it free because you had the bonus points from the signup. Yes.

4 (45m 56s):
Yeah. And then I took me and my boyfriend at the time back home for a wedding with points. So I’ve had a lot of free flights.

5 (46m 3s):
Very nice.

1 (46m 4s):
Correct. Or second question that we got from a listener was what website do you use to book hotels?

5 (46m 10s):
I kind of touched on this a little bit beforehand and the things to keep in mind. Like I said, we discussed Ebates. So we definitely use that to then go through Expedia, but sometimes you’ll always see some travel sites say cheaper to book direct through them or price match guarantee. So if you see that then Rest assured book directly through,

4 (46m 30s):
You know what I, every hotel will tell you book direct for the best price and not all of them are being truthful because I always look on the hotel’s website, booking.com Expedia. I look at everything and I always book through whatever’s cheaper and it’s not always direct. So they’re lying. So,

5 (46m 46s):
No, I know they are, but I’m saying if they say it’s cheaper because they will do a price match guarantee, then book direct versus going through like Expedia. But if it’s not, then yeah, absolutely

4 (46m 56s):
I’ll even call too. Before I pushed the book button online, I’ll call just to see if they’d give me a better price over the phone. The other site that I love for hotels is hotels tonight. And I have a story about this. So when I went up to Seattle, I was reading this blog about hotel max in Seattle. It’s this boutique hotel. And it was really cute. But the real reason I wanted to stay there is because they have craft beer hour every evening. So it was a boutique. Hotels was a little bit pricier, but I was watching Expedia and booking.com and everything else for probably like two months leading up to this trip. And I was also watching hotels tonight and I kept seeing the price go down the closer it got to the trip. I ended up booking that hotel the day of, for the cheapest price I had seen in the last two months.

1 (47m 39s):
Wow. Yeah.

4 (47m 40s):
And then I know, I know I was really gambling on that one, but then when I got there with my boyfriend at the time I told them, they said, why are you in Seattle? And I said, oh, we’re celebrating your anniversary. And we got upgraded to the suite. Yeah, fucking hard. I’m not talking about the hotel lady. All right. Any last thoughts about how to plan a trip, how to save money doing it, or how to even save money on your trip? Anything?

1 (48m 10s):
I think my final thought is to be mindful and plan trips far in advance to give yourself the most time and the best

4 (48m 18s):
Prices and the most options

1 (48m 19s):
And the most options.

2 (48m 20s):
Just do it get over any of the excuses, any of the reasons why you can’t, you’re the only one holding yourself back, push through it. Just do it start planning.

5 (48m 29s):
I want to just circle back around to what Brittany said earlier and just reiterate this advice that she gave, which was, if you’re going to do a trip on your own, look at a travel company’s website and actually see what they have listed as the highlights or hotels and things like that, and choose that way and see how long they actually have for their tours in those locations as well, because that’ll be a good frame of reference for you to use and planning your own trip. I think that’s a really, really good advice and it definitely came in handy when we were doing Japan. That’s for sure.

4 (49m 1s):
Yeah, absolutely. All right guys. Well, thank you so much for tuning in this week and listening to this episode about how to travel plan a trip and save money along the way. We hope that you learned tons of tips about how to make it more affordable for you.

5 (49m 14s):
Please subscribe to our podcast, leave a review and tune in Every Travel Tuesday for new episodes.

2 (49m 20s):
And if you aren’t already be sure to follow us on Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast,

1 (49m 25s):
Pack your bags and stay tuned for next week’s episode. The windy city of Chicago.

4 (49m 31s):
Chi-Town

5 (49m 32s):
We’re talking all about it This episode too. Bye guys.

1 (49m 35s):
Bye

keep the adventures going

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