As I anxiously await my trip abroad to Iceland in a few weeks, I thought I would share a few hidden gems of traveling around the world on a budget.
1. Wow Airlines
I discovered this airline a few months ago and it is the main reason I decided to take this whimsical trip. The flights are DIRT CHEAP. If you navigate to their homepage and scroll to the bottom, you will find their cheapest flights. You do have to be flexible with your travel dates in order to take full advantage of the cheaper rates. I found that traveling outbound on a Monday and inbound on a Saturday were the cheapest options for Iceland in April (and most likely all spring months). To be expected, the cheapest travel times arrive at less than ideal hours (we arrive in Iceland at 4 a.m.). There are some hidden fees to these types of airlines – you have to buy your seat to and from, drinks and snacks must be purchases (yes, even water), and you must pay to check a bag. Since I was looking for value over luxury, this didn’t bother me. With the additional fees, I was still able to book two round trip flights for under $900. To put that in perspective, my solo round trip flight to Europe two summers back cost roughly $1,200.
Airbnb is the new way to lodge on the road. Homeowners simply post their house on the Airbnb website and customers can browse until they find one that fits their needs. You have the option to rent a single room, apartment, or an entire home. I’ve found some great décor inspiration from some homes on the site and am unsure why someone would want to rent out their perfectly decorated home. Unfortunately, Iceland is one of the most expensive so I opted for a cheaper, not as quaint selection. The homeowners live in the upstairs portion of the home, and have been very friendly since booking. They are willing to offer advice such as great local eats, traffic, and attractions.
3. Car Rental
I am all for car rental companies such as Avis and Budget, namely because those are the lines I use when I travel and have racked up quite a few loyalty points in hopes to use them, perhaps, on a vacation. Unfortunately, my tried and true Avis is not in Iceland. Fortunately, car rental is not as expensive as EVERY. OTHER. THING. in Iceland. I ended up booking through a company by the name of Northbound. Opting for a manual vehicle rather than an automatic is a way to save a few bucks. But beware, as with other rental car companies, you are expected to fill up the gas tank before the return. Gas is around $7.50 USD per gallon. I’ll leave it at that.
As mentioned above, when flying on cheaper airlines, you get charged a bunch of add-ons. Pack light. I remember packing for my first trip abroad and couldn’t imagine trying to cram everything I would possibly need for nine days in Europe, in a carry-on. Now, I rarely bring anything that cannot fit in the overhead bin. Packing minimally saves money, makes it easier to navigate around a new city, and tones down the “I’m a Tourist” vibe you’re probably already giving off to the locals. Refer to my “How to Pack for an Abroad Trip,” coming soon.
5. Rent Equipment
While some might be led to believe that packing all cold weather clothing and equipment they may need for a visit up north will save them money, they are wrong. The luggage costs along are enough of a reason to pack light for a trip abroad. Instead of purchasing waterproof, cold weather gear and paying to get it to our destination, renting it was a much more cost efficient option. The company that I purchased the excursion from offers equipment rentals for a reasonable price and you avoid lugging it around during your vacation.
Much like being home, it is just as easy to eat cheap while on vacation. Most Airbnb and hostels have kitchens so it is pretty simple to whip up some pasta and meat sauce on the stove top. Some travelers that we met in Italy did that very thing in order to save money so they could stay abroad longer. Food is one thing I am willing to splurge on, and will pay a little more for this experience to try to food of the local culture.
I hope you get to get out and see the world soon. Remember, there’s no better time than NOW!