I have had the travel bug and so have my friends, so we thought it would be a great idea to plan a little getaway to Colorado! Since all of my travelings have been canceled due to Covid-19, I was so excited to plan a new trip.
Now, since there is a global pandemic, traveling within the United States is extremely affordable but can be tricky in some states. For example, many states require a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, or a negative COVID test 72 hours before arrival. But no worries, I am here to show you how I am planning a COVID free trip!
The flight was the most important part, money-wise, for me. I wanted to find the cheapest flight possible.
Everyone has their favorite airlines and ways to book flights, but I’m going to share with you the best way to get the cheapest flight every time. We booked our flights with Frontier at $92 round trip. This did not include luggage, so my friend and I split the cost of one checked bag (that we are sharing) for $70 ($35 each). Finally, we all decided to pay an extra $25 to get to Colorado at 10 am instead of 4 pm. Our flight total ended up being $152 roundtrip.
As you can see, we could have made it cheaper without adding the extra $25 but it is all up to you.
1. Keep track of the flight prices a few days before you book
Do NOT book right away! Find the flight you like and keep track of how the flight fluctuates from day-to-day. Then figure out what day you think you want to book/fly on the next week.
2. Book on a Tuesday!
Many people swear by booking their flights on a Tuesday. Flights are the cheapest then, and it makes a lot of sense why. Most people do their research on destinations and flights during the weekend but wait until Monday to book. So, to keep bookings up for the rest of the week, airfare companies will lower their prices on Tuesdays.
3. Use Google Flights
This is my biggest secret for finding affordable flights. Google Flights is so easy to use and extremely customer friendly. When you go to Google Flights all you need to do is type in the date and place of your vacation. Then multiple results will come up from different airlines. I also love Google Flights because they have a price calendar that will show you cheaper flights on different days. (Last image)
HOWEVER, don’t be fooled when you see a super cheap flight come up. Sometimes it’s way too good to be true. For example, on my screenshot, you see a round trip flight from Atlanta to Colorado for $58 BUT that does not include any luggage. That means you will have to pay an extra fee for any luggage you take. AND this cheaper flight has a long layover (even for a three-hour flight). So you have to decide what is worth it for you.
4. Use apps and email newsletters
If you are searching for somewhere to go, having apps that show you affordable flights is a great way to start. My two favorite apps for flights are Momondo and Kiwi. Both of these apps are available for iPhone and Android and they are super easy to use. I also use an email subscription called Scott’s Cheap Flights. This newsletter will send me emails with prices of cheap flights to places all around the world.
For this trip, we are staying with family. But I will still share my favorite ways to find affordable places to stay.
1. Stay with family or friends if possible!
Now, I know this is hard and not always an option, but it truly is the best way to cut the cost of a trip. If you are taking a solo trip, ask if you can stay in one of their rooms or even offer to pay them a little cash. This is definitely the cheapest option, but sometimes the hardest.
2. Network and then rent out a room from a friend
This tip is more so for a long trip, but I did this when I was supposed to go to Hawaii in May! I met a sweet girl on Instagram who lived in Hawaii. We talked often and she told me she was renting out her room over the summer. I talked to her over the phone and zoomed with her multiple times so I knew she was legit and safe. This is a great way to get the best deals on housing because a lot of people are just looking to make a little extra money. I was going to be able to stay in Hawaii for a couple of weeks for around $450!
3. Search through Airbnb!
I love Airbnb! When I cannot do either of the options above, I instantly start searching on Airbnb. This option is pretty self-explanatory, but my biggest tip is to keep searching and use the filter tabs. I always filter the price range so I can only see places within my budget. Typically, my Airbnb budget for any trip is around $50-$100 a night.
Also, make sure you are looking at the total price on Airbnb. When a rental says $65 a night and you are staying 5 days, your total price is NOT $325. There are always hidden fees like cleaning, service, and different taxes. Airbnb does a great job of breaking down the total price for you, but even that “total price” isn’t the total. When you finalize a booking, Airbnb will add on their fees, but they are never that much.
4. Stay at campgrounds
I know this option might be a little too “out there” for some, but this is another cheap way to travel! Some campgrounds are free to stay at and some vary anywhere from $10-$50. Also, they will usually have showers and toilets! If you are traveling to a cooler spot or during the fall/winter season, I would definitely recommend a campground! You gotta do whatcha gotta do to see the world ;)
For this trip to Colorado, we are okay with spending a bit more money on activities because we have a free place to stay. However, most of the things we are wanting to do are free or close to it. We plan on hiking, going to national parks, walking around the town, and more.
1. Find free (or very inexpensive) activities to do.
For example, hiking! Most places you go to visit have some sort of geographical feature that you can visit for free. Maybe it’s the beach, mountains, lake, etc. There are always places in nature that are free or cost very little to visit.
When I am visiting a new place, one of my favorite things to do is to walk around and take in the new scenery. You may find cute shops, restaurants, or photo spots you want to visit this way as well.
Transportation is dependent on where you are going to visit. In some areas, public transportation (buses, metro, train, etc.) is the best way to get around, while other places you need to rent a car. For this trip, we have decided to rent a car because the total price will be split between 4 people. My biggest tip here is to research transportation before you get to the place you’re traveling. Find a car, bike, or scooter rental place online so you are prepared.
For this trip, I am planning on buying a few snacks at the grocery store and eating out once a day. Food is one of the best parts of traveling because it changes everywhere you go, but it can become very pricey.
1. Eat two meals at home and one meal out.
This is one of the easiest ways to save money on food. When you get to your destination, stop by the grocery and pick up a few essentials. This way you can eat one-two meals at home instead of eating every meal out.
2. Focus on 1-2 bigger meals instead of 3 small ones.
I know people will disagree with this tip, but I think it can be very helpful. For example, for breakfast, eat a protein bar and some fruit at home, go out and enjoy a big lunch, and then have something small or dinner.
The topic of food is completely up to you and everyone prefers something different. I recommend having enough money in your budget to eat out and get a snack once every day.
Expected total for the trip:
Activities: around $40
Food: around $50
The trip is happening in a couple of weeks and then I will post my Colorado Travel Guide! If you enjoyed these tips or want to follow along on my trip, follow me on Instagram!