10 Ways to Champagne Travel on a Beer Budget

 Pagoda climbing in Bagan, Myanmar

Pagoda climbing in Bagan, Myanmar

In just under two weeks, I'll be taking my first trip to Scandinavia! Thanks to Norwegian, I’ll be flying a direct flight from New York to Bergen, Norway for only $195. No actually – a round-trip, nonstop flight to Norway for under $200!

If you’re thinking, only crazy people who travel all the time can find deals like that, you’re very wrong. Norwegian is not only a budget airline already, but the airline has deals on top of their already discounted fares all the time. I recommend signing up for their email newsletter. I also recommend taking flights from the non-traditional airports. For instance, I’ll be flying out of Stewart Newburgh airport, about an hour’s drive from NYC. Norwegian has been increasing the amount of flights flown from STW and in doing so, has also paired up with a bus service to get you straight from Penn Station to the airport (almost every half hour). Find that here for only $40 round-trip. Also, I’ll be flying into Bergen, versus a big hub such as Norway.

I’ve been told Bergen is a cozy little Scandi town, but you could’ve told me there was only pickled herring there and I still would’ve gone for $200. I spend more on my subway fares going less than two miles every two months.

From Bergen, I'm flying to Copenhagen with Norwegian again. That round-trip flight costs $105 and will take only an hour. Patrick is meeting me in CPH, and we’ll stay there for 6 days, 5 nights. We’ll return to Bergen for a 2-night stay, and I fly out that Friday, one week later.

Though we’ve heard from multiple sources that both Norway and Denmark are very expensive, we’ve used our own resources to figure out the cheapest way to go.

 Havana, Cuba (flown for free in September using Delta miles transferred from Chase card!)

Havana, Cuba (flown for free in September using Delta miles transferred from Chase card!)

When people ask me how I travel all the time, live in NYC and am not an investment banker:

1.     Fly budget airlines. It’s only a few hours of your life but will save you a few hundred Benjamins

2.     Fly out of non-traditional airports. You’ll also probably save hours of your life here (not as many people will be commuting there, going through security, checking in at the same time, etc)

3.     If your schedule allows, take the odd-timed flights. Red-eyes, or overnight flights, are my favorite. There are usually less people, and I feel like I’m multitasking by sleeping while traveling (and sometimes, no crying babies!)

4.     Stay in low cost accommodation (hostels, Airbnb, use hotel points)

4b. Keep in mind that most large hotel chains will allow you to convert your points with them into airline miles with certain partners. I.e. Marriott points can be converted into United Miles (8,000 Marriott = 2,000 United). Not recommended at the exchange rate, but still doable!

5.     If you stay in Airbnbs, take advantage of having a full kitchen at your hands. Use local ingredients for meals and feel like a true city native!

6.    Free Tours.

Google "Best free walking tours in" whichever city you're visiting - they are everywhere, usually run by locals, and integrate you into the city with other curious travelers. Sandemans is one of the most reliable, and can be found all over Europe!

7.     Budget ID cards (If you still have a student ID or email, you can still get student discounts!)

Or if you're simply a young traveler, there are ID cards that give you access to a range of discounts abroad. International Student Identity Card (ISIC) or International Youth Travel Card (IYTC)

8.    Save up for your trip with apps like Qapital, Acorns, or Stash

Get $5 towards your Acorns account with the link above! You can contribute a monthly debit, round up everyday purchases, and receive "found money" to put towards an investment account.

9.    Use a travel rewards credit card (!!!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is how I’ve gotten the majority of my flights for free. (In December I booked my Air France NYC – London flight for free! Peak travel time and still managed a flight that cost a whopping $Free.99). 

a. Chase pairs with the following airlines for 1:1 point transfer: United, Southwest, Air France/KLM (which lets you book Delta and Alaska), British Airways (lets you book American Airlines)

10.   Carry-on your luggage. Most airlines (especially budget) will charge you to check your bag. I promise, you can fit all your stuff in a carry-on, and it will save you time and money

The essentials I keep close when traveling:

 St. John, USVI

St. John, USVI