The Best Apps and Websites for Travel Hacking (and Travel Savings)

The Best Apps and Websites for Travel Hacking (and Travel Savings)

You have a lot you want to accomplish and do in your life. And your goals probably look different than the goals of the person sitting next to you — with one exception.

Almost everyone I talk to shares the desire to travel more. It seems like traveling is the one thing we all want to do, whether it’s taking an exotic vacation, backpacking through a foreign country, or just experiencing and seeing new things.

The thing is, no matter what kind of traveling you want to do, it’s going to cost money. But your travel plans don’t have to break your budget if you know how to leverage the tools and resources available to you.

There are some amazing apps and websites out there that can not only make planning your trip and enjoying the sights better and easier, but also save you some money in the process.

Before you head out on your next adventure, try out my favorites for travel hacking (and money saving along the way!).

1. Wander

Your budget is what it is. Instead of fighting it (or just blowing it), work with it. Wander will help you do just that, by suggesting destinations based on what you can realistically spend.

Even if you feel like you have some flexibility on your spending, Wander can still be a useful tool for brainstorming future trips. Let the app suggest new places to go that you might not have considered on your own!

2. HotelTonight

Some of the best trips are the spontaneous, last-minute ones — but if you like to jump on last-minute plans, you know that approach can sometimes backfire. Prices can be sky-high if you want to book a room close to your travel date (and that assumes there are rooms available at all).

But if you use HotelTonight, you can still play your travels by ear and find the hotels offering last-minute rooms for really low prices. Hotels share their available rooms on the app, and then you can book one to stay within the week for a reduced rate.

3. HostelWorld

Making on-the-fly decisions doesn’t work for everyone. You might not have that kind of flexibility in your schedule — or leaving important travel details, like where you’re staying, up in the air until the day-of might just drive you crazy!

You can still save money on accommodations if you’re willing to check out hostels instead of hotels. But finding a good one can be stressful. You want to save money, but you might not want to stay in what feels like a throwback to your college dorm days.

HostelWorld makes the search easier, helping you connect with hostels that offer the amenities you want or can cater to your needs. The app allows you to search for specific features, like private rooms or bathrooms.

And of course, there are always sites like Airbnb and Kayak that can help you find other good deals on places to stay while traveling.

4. Trusted Housesitters

Why bother looking for “cheaper” when you could just stay somewhere on your travels for free?

It’s possible to do if you can connect with a homeowner that needs a house sitter for a period of time. Trusted Housesitters does just that, helping people who own homes but may be away for extended periods of time find people they can trust take care of the property while they’re gone.

To make this travel hack work for you, you do need to have some experience, references, and knowledge on how to set up a profile that appeals to homeowners. There are lots of resources and blogs that can help you learn more, like The Money Smart Nomad. And Trusted Housesitters runs their own blog that can help teach you how to get started.

5. Twitter

Yes, Twitter is a social media app and not a dedicated travel or money-saving tool… but there are a lot of accounts on social media dedicated to finding and sharing travel hacking tips, deals, and savings tips.

Follow accounts like Airfare Watchdog to find good prices on flights across airlines, or someone like The Points Guy if you want to make the absolute most of those credit card points you accumulate through your everyday spending.

6. Scott’s Cheap Flights

Cheap flights are out there. But finding them can take some time and effort — and you’re busy. You don’t exactly have the ability to spend hours and hours to search every corner of the web for the best airfare.

That’s what Scott’s Cheap Flights is for. The site offers both free and paid memberships, and sends great flight deals to subscribers of all plans on a regular basis.

7. Your Credit Card’s Rewards Program

If you can manage your credit wisely, choosing a credit card that offers powerful travel rewards can be a great way to save money on your trips and travel costs. Instead of paying cash, you could redeem points for hotels, flights, and more.

This is probably not a good money-saving tip if you…

  • Already have a lot of credit card debt
  • Tend to overspend when you use credit or struggle to stick to your budget
  • Buy stuff just to get points (rather than using your card to earn points on purchases you needed to make anyway, like groceries or your bills)
  • Have a low credit score and are focused on improving it

You might want to discuss your options with your financial planner before you actively use a credit card as a way to travel hack or save money on your trips. But if you use your credit cards responsibly, good rewards programs could save you a lot of money.

Nerdwallet can help you compare different travel rewards cards, so you can get the one that works best with the kind of spending you do most often.

Want More Travel Hacking and Money Saving Tips?

Be sure to check out past posts I’ve done on this topic, like this one here. That will give you even more suggestions on apps and tools you can use to plan out your travels and save money along the way.

Or, if you want to really level up your travel and financial planning, we can work together to create a solid financial plan that makes space for what you care about most — like adventures, the ability to explore, and trips that allow you to see more of the world.

Click here to learn more about how it works!

How Much Home Can Your Lifestyle Afford?

How Much Home Can Your Lifestyle Afford?

If you’re considering purchasing a home, you’ve likely already considered how much you have available for a down payment, what an ideal mortgage payment would be, and how much home you can actually afford based on your monthly income. But what about your lifestyle?

Have you considered how much wiggle room you need to leave in your home budget to enjoy life? Here are six life factors to consider when buying a home:

1. Travel
Travel is an important goal for many people. Think about the travel goals you have for yourself:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • What do you want to see?
  • How long are your ideal trips?
  • How much money would you need on an annual basis to make your travel goals possible?
  • Is this already factored into your budget or will you need to cut back on travel to fund your monthly mortgage payment and home expenses?

There are no right or wrong answers, but it’s important to reflect on your priorities.

2. Green Thumb?

Do you love gardening, being outside, and all things landscaping? If you purchase a home with a lawn and don’t enjoy the upkeep, you could be looking at an extra $100 or more a month for professional landscape maintenance. Are you willing to skip the lawn in favor of hardscaping to reduce costs?

Bottom line: Factor hobbies and services into your monthly budget to see if the numbers still work out in the black.

3. Pool Time

How dreamy would it be to buy a home with a pool!? Before the dream becomes reality, add up the costs of pool maintenance and servicing, energy, and insurance (along with liability if you have small children) and you may be better off heading to the neighborhood swimming hole.

Pools can be a lot of fun, but they come with a lot of work. Factor time and money into your future plans when buying a home with this special feature and, once again, ask yourself if the numbers add up to support your other financial goals.

4. Children

If you’re buying a home and plan to start a family in the next few years, don’t just consider the amount of mortgage you can afford under your current expenses. Factor in daycare costs and then determine what your cash flow will look like. You may have to adjust the amount of home you’re looking to purchase.

5. Entertainment

Chances are you enjoy dining out, going to concerts and sporting events, and seeing movies. If you need to rein in these activities to make room for your mortgage, home expenses, and savings, aim to strike a balance that won’t leave you feeling restless.

After all, you’re likely choosing a 30-year mortgage, and three decades is a long time to feel deprived. If necessary, reduce the amount of home you purchase so you can enjoy yourself in the ways that are important to you.

6. Retirement

If you’re in your 20s, you should try to save 10% of your income; in your 30s, you should be saving 15%. If you need to cut back on your retirement savings to make a home purchase work, think hard about when you’ll be able to get back to your ideal contribution levels and how much you may be losing out on during that time.

Although home ownership can help build long-term wealth, it’s important to also maintain retirement savings for future security.

This post was written in partnership with The National Association of Realtors. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional home finance tips, check out

10 Best Apps for Travel Hacks

10 Best Apps for Travel Hacks

Traveling has always been a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of experience. You can plan, visualize and proceed cautiously, but nothing ever proceeds exactly the way you imagine. While travel is still inherently filled with guessing and uncertainty, the age of apps has made the experience much more manageable. What used to be done in the moment can now be handled ahead of time, and what used to require footwork now just requires a few taps on a touch screen. So how can you embrace the digital age of traveling simplicity? Read on for some of my favorite travel apps.

1. CityMapper – This app will tell you the best way to get to your final destination without having to rely on expensive cabs. This is perfect for people who want to save money, but are confused by public transportation. It will also let you book an Uber directly from the app, if that ends up being your best option.

2. HotelTonight – Having trouble with your Airbnb? Maybe your hostel ended up getting bedbugs? If you’re in a squeeze and need a place to stay, HotelTonight may be your savior. This app finds the best hotel deals right now and lets you book the hotel stay directly from the app. Need a room for tomorrow night too? Don’t worry, you can now book a hotel up to seven days out.

3. Hipmunk – Developed by one of the founders of Reddit, Hipmunk aggregates flights based on price and length. It allows you to set custom alerts so you can find the best time to book your particular flight and you can also set a departure city to find the best deals coming out of your particular area.

4. Airbnb – Once you have your destination, look for a place to stay using the Airbnb app. You can search based on your vacation time, amenities and reviews. Booking an apartment or house can be much cheaper than using a hotel, especially if you find one with a kitchen.

5. Hopper – Finding the best deal on a flight can seem like pure luck, but that’s where Hopper comes in. It tracks flight prices and alerts you when the lowest price is available. Unfortunately, this app is not available for Android yet, so only iPhone users can find the best deals.

6. WhatsApp – Staying in touch while you’re abroad has gotten much easier. WhatsApp allows you to communicate with friends and family back home without paying roaming charges or needing access to a data connection.

7. Uber – If you’ve been abroad lately, you know the Uber craze is not limited to just the states. Getting an Uber abroad can be much cheaper than hailing a cab and easier than navigating your way around a foreign subway system.

8. GasBuddy – If you’re taking a road trip, GasBuddy is your friend. Use the app to locate the cheapest gas station and estimate how much each trip will cost (the app asks you to input your car’s make and model, your starting location and your destination).

9. HostelWorld – Looking to get a really good deal on your accommodations? Try staying in a hostel. You can find your perfect choice using this app, where you can search for a bed in a private room or one with a dozen of your soon-to-be best friends.

10. Kayak – This site is famous for helping people score great deals on flights and hotels, but did you know they have an app? They can help figure out the best ways to save money, such as purchasing two one-way flights instead of one round trip flight. Ultimately there are a plethora of options available to streamline your travel planning. Just make sure to download and use these apps in advance of leaving on any trips, so you know how they work before you’re stranded in Vienna one night. The more you can familiarize yourself with these apps, leverage them to save money, and to plan ahead, the better your trip will be.

How to Make Room for Travel in Your Life

How to Make Room for Travel in Your Life

Almost everyone wants to travel. We talk about it, fantasize about it and hold on to the good memories for months after we’ve returned home.
So why don’t people travel more?
Whether it’s a lack of finances or an overabundance of responsibilities, it usually boils down to an inability to fit travel into our lives. To make matters worse, people tend to turn the vacations they can afford to take into a big, stressful, expensive mess – killing their motivation to book another trip in the near future.
So how can you make room for more than one high-stress vacation a year? How can you make travel a sustainable, enjoyable and indispensable part of your life?

Find Your Destination

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when planning a big trip. The options can seem endless, especially if you haven’t traveled a lot. That’s why it helps to get clear on what you want to see and do on your trip. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Are you hoping to have an outdoors adventure full of hiking and other activities?
  • Do you want to see medieval churches and old castles?
  • Do you prefer a cosmopolitan city or a quiet village?
  • Are you comfortable speaking another language or do you want to go somewhere English-speaking
  • How long will your trip be?
  • Are you a hotel kind of person or do you prefer tents or cabins in the woods?

Once you’ve narrowed down what you’re looking for, try searching online for places or countries that match that description. Then, you can read online resources about those places and determine if they still sound like somewhere you want to go. This can include information tourism sites, travel forums and more. Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path. Just because millions of people flock to London and Paris every year doesn’t mean you have to as well. If Budapest is more your thing, then go there. Travel is not something most people can afford to do often, so it’s important to go where you want – not where you think you should go. After you’ve determined your location, you need to find the best time to go. That will depend on when you can take off from work, how much travel costs during a particular season and what season you prefer to travel in. Once you know when you want to go, you can start developing a rough budget. Then you’ll know exactly how much you need to save.

Fund Your Trip

If a trip abroad isn’t within your current budget, it’s time to find ways to make more money. A trip outside the country can cost several thousand dollars depending where you go. So how can you find that kind of money quickly? Try renting out your place on Airbnb. Airbnb is a great way to make money for people comfortable with sharing their space. How much you earn depends on your city, the time of year and what kinds of amenities your home has. If you have an extra room it can be a great way to make between $66 and $111 a night for renting out something you’re not using. Some hosts make enough to pay their rent in full. Plus, you can rent out your room when you leave on vacation (or the whole place if you don’t have any roommates). Being an Airbnb host doesn’t require any special skills beyond being friendly and accommodating to tourists. Some other money-making ideas include freelancing in your chosen industry, participating in clinical trials, tutoring college and high school students, and picking up retail shifts during the busy season.

Make Travel a Priority

Travel is on the wish list of many of my clients. The best thing you can do for yourself is set up separate travel savings account and stash money aside on a monthly or consistent basis to ensure you’re building up a fund to cover the costs of your trip. It’s easy to pull out your credit card to cover expenses, but your trip won’t be nearly as fun as if you head into it debt free and with the money available to cover expenses. No matter how you choose to fund or save for your trip, the key is to make your travel plans as painless and straightforward as possible. Making room for travel isn’t just about paying for the cost – it’s about fitting travel into your lifestyle in a sustainable and enjoyable way.