Travel finance strategist Danielle Desir shares her secrets to low cost travel

Danielle Desir is a travel finance specialist, speaker and podcaster at The Thought Card. In the past few years, not only has she managed to save thousands of dollars on travel, she has also done it whilst paying off her student debt, and becoming a homeowner. In this super-useful interview, she shares her easy-to-action money saving tips and hacks, to help you travel on a tiny budget. I've highlighted Danielle's top tips below, but for a really in-depth information, check out the podcast episode below.

You can listen here or over on iTunes (if you like it, please leave me a review! :)

1. Make travel a financial priority

We all value and prioritise different outgoings each month. We’re prepared to let our rent, phone bill, Netflix and morning coffee come out of our account, so why not put a little aside each month for travel? Danielle suggests adding this as a line item in your monthly budget, so by putting away a few pounds or dollars each month, your travel fund will grow over time, and will be ready when you are, to take a trip. This is SUCH a great tip, I can’t believe I haven’t done this before!

2. Subscribe for free low cost flight alerts

When I’m looking for a flight to a certain destination, I’ll always set up a price alert for specific flights, however, I love the approach Danielle takes. By subscribing to free (or paid) flight alert services, such as Jack's Flight Club (UK based) or if you're based in the U.S., Thrifty Flight Club Premium offers amazing deals via email, as well as Secret Flying (available internationally). Another tip of Danielle's is to be open to new destinations when they pop up on these flight offer services. Because who can resist saving hundreds of dollars on awesome destinations?

Low cost travel tips

3. Make money while you travel

When you’ve booked your trip, you can monetise on your trip either during or after you go. Danielle is a freelance writer, so she contacts relevant companies, who may be interested in her content about specific destinations.

But it doesn’t stop there. You don’t have to be a writer to make money. Another great tip, is to collaborate with a start-up business, and offer your time and feedback in return for an experience (and money!). For example, Danielle tested out a beta app for food tours in Rome, and not only did she get to experience something completely new and different, but she also got paid for her time too!

4. Protect your travel spending with insurance

Sometimes things come up and we need to cancel or change our flights. Especially if we book a trip months in advance. Having the right trip protection helps, by securing your investment. So, should you need to change your plans, you won’t lose out. I’ve been stung with this before and just had to suck it up. I wish I had taken this advice earlier!

I had $63,000 of debt when I started out, but I’ve since travelled to 24 countries, paid off my debt and bought a house.

Low cost travel tips

5. Travel light, and save on baggage

Another great tip to save money on baggage fees (and time at the carousel!) is to travel light. If you can travel with a backpack which is the right size to fit in the cabin, you can save a LOT of money. Plus when you get to the other end, you don’t need to wait around for your luggage, and it also removes the risk of your bags going missing (which has happened to me before, and having to wear the same clothes four days in a row, is not nice ;-)

6. Avoid unnecessary fees when converting your currency

This is one which I have definitely suffered with in the past. It can be so easy to get caught out spending unnecessary extra fees when changing your money to the local currency. If you can change your money at your bank beforehand, that’s WAY better. However if you don’t have time before you leave, try to avoid those airport counters, and instead, use an ATM when you get there. You can also apply for a credit card such as Revolut that acts as a local card once you’re there.


7. Use your loyalty points wisely

If you are a member of a loyalty/points scheme, make sure you keep an eye on your account. Some airlines may stipulate that your well-earned points need to be used up by a certain time. You can still book in advance, but it’s all the more sweeter if you can bag a free flight!

Huge thanks to Danielle for her indispensable money-saving travel tips. You can check out more of her expertise over at her blog and podcast The Thought Card. I would also LOVE to hear some of your tips and tricks that you use when saving money on travel - tell me in the comments below!