Delaying your vacation because of inflation? This travel enthusiast only goes on budget-friendly trips

Nina Ngo admits she travels more often than her parents would prefer. In fact, the 25-year-old Windsorite estimates she boards an airplane once every two months.

But that strong desire to see the world has led her to learn valuable lessons about how to travel on a budget.

According to Ngo, who documents her travels on social media, anyone can accomplish their travel goals — even in this era of high inflation — by changing their idea of what it means to go on vacation.

Ngo’s top tip for traveling on a budget is to book your flight the week before or after major holidays and events.

“A good example would be Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I literally paid 50 dollars roundtrip just because I went the weekend before it,” she said.

But being a frugal traveller is about more than just booking your flight at the right time.

She said it requires people to have an open mind and, instead, reimagine vacationing as “an education for your life.”

One example she points to is food.

“You don’t always have to go to the most expensive or the first restaurant you see to Google,” said Ngo. “I actually recommend going to a grocery store and purchasing local snacks … You can purchase food for a fraction of what you might buy at an expensive bakery or restaurant.”

“You’re able to try out the local things that they might be eating and you can check it off your bucket list and save a lot of money.”

Lodging accommodations are another area where travellers can save money — but only if they’re willing to try something new, Ngo added.

“People have a negative connotation about hostels. They think they’re dirty and gross, with a lot of people staying in one room,” said Ngo, adding many of the hostels where she stayed have provided a “five-star” experience in terms of cleanliness, space and safety.

“If you want, you can actually choose to stay in an all-female hostel. You can even get your own room.”

Another easy way people can save money while travelling is to sacrifice the extra luggage and fly with a low-cost carrier, such as Flair or Sunwing, carrying nothing more than a backpack — all to avoid having to pay baggage fees.

Consumer travel behaviour

According to a recent survey by Skyscanner, 79 per cent of Canadian travellers plan to take as many or more trips in 2024 compared to the year prior.

While that percentage suggests inflation is not preventing people from travelling, there have been noticeable changes in their choice of destination.

“We have seen a huge increase in the usage of our Explore Everywhere feature. It gives you all of the flights you can take, ordered by price, regardless of destination,” said Skyscanner travel expert Laura Lindsay.

“What that means is we’re seeing more and more people choose to fly to different locations that are cheaper, rather than sticking to the same location that might be more expensive.”

According to Lindsay, Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon has recently been getting more online searches by Canadian travellers because it’s a destination which offers “more bang for your buck.”

“Travellers are now considering location more so by the type of experience they’re going to get — what we would deem the ‘vibe’ of a place,” said Lindsay. “So whether that be a foodie destination, or somewhere that’s great for nightlife, and then they will choose a destination based on the experience they’re going to get, rather than necessarily the name of that destination.”

*My advice would be to shop around and consider alternative destinations. That is a great way to get away with a budget that feels realistic for you.”

As for Ngo, she said the first step a person can take toward achieving their travel goals is to obtain a travel credit card. It allows the cardholder to rack up points, which can be redeemed for flights and accommodation by making day-to-day purchases.

“Life is short. I truly believe travelling is a really good education. You can learn so much about yourself by going outside of everything you know just by being at home,” she said.

“It’s a really good investment in yourself.”