My friend once said that long distance relationships are her idea of a personal hell. Frustration over the time difference, only seeing each other once in few months (if they were lucky), spending half of the total visit time in the air, and the added financial cost of all of it!
During our long distance relationship phase, I was in India and my man was in China. One round trip ticket used to cost us from $800 to $1200. We used to visit each other every six weeks. That resulted in a $6400-$9600 yearly price tag to keep our relationship alive (it sounds bad but we needed it in order for the relationship to survive). And I’m not even counting the visa costs, cab rides to the airport, hotels, and food expenses.
My boyfriend couldn’t come to India because of a visa issue, so I was the one visiting a majority of the time. If I was the one to pay for all those visits too, our relationship would have been bound to collapse because the inevitable financial crisis (having a long distance relationship might become a financial constraint if you don’t do some planning in advance).
Over time, we discovered several tricks to make our relationship less of a financial burden…
Even if you live just a train/bus ride away, tickets will always be the biggest and most unavoidable cost. There are quite a few ways to make it bearable.
Try to alternate your visits
It’s not always possible. In our case it wasn’t a choice. Maybe one of you gets more time off from work than the other. But if both of you have the same availability, make sure you take turns visiting each other. It’s not only about splitting the cost, but also the time you have to spend in the airports, planes, or recovering from the jet lag.
Plan well in advance
Especially if you are one of those couples who believe spending Christmas (or other big festivals) together is a must. Tickets for the holiday season are always the most expensive , and it won’t be enough to arrange your travel plans three months in advance. In this case, you might start planning as early as six months before the holiday.
Make sure you fly during bad/low times
This will reduce the ticket price. Remember: the cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The best times (price-wise) to fly are during night, lunch, and dinner hours.
Compare the airfares
Use websites such as Momondo, Skyscanner, or Farecompare to make sure that you get the best price possible. Also, set airfare alerts while doing your research—make sure you are notified when your desired flight is available at the best price. And the moment you get an alert, act on it. You are not the only one receiving notifications, so the best prices usually don’t stay available for long.
Become a pro in finding the BEST PRICE!
Always keep your eyes open for airline mistake fares. These errors don’t stay available for long, so all you need to do it get to know how they work and buy immediately. We follow the SecretFlying on Facebook and Twitter, so we are always aware of the best airline mistake offers. We had quite a few unplanned holidays, and I got to fly from India to Hong Kong for as cheap as $100!
Split the costs
Talk about this even if you take turns visiting each other. It’s possible that one of you ends up paying more than the other, and it might cause undo stress. Moreover, the financial difficulty might lead to making your relationship unaffordable. You shouldn’t be embarrassed or worried about telling your partner what is affordable (or not) for you.
Tip: count the cost of one visit and decide how many meetings a year you will be able to have if you split the cost of each visit. That way you will be calmer and will be able to plan your expenditures. Also, you will always know the approximate time of your next meeting (which is a huge relief. Believe me!).
Old, not new
Of course, the best thing you could do if you want to avoid extra costs is visit each other at home instead of going to a new destination. There is another great benefit: you will get to experience the everyday life together instead of having a mini holiday every time you meet (which is great, but being in a home environment is the best way to get to know the person and slowly discover if you are compatible as life partners).
Tip: if you decide to meet in a third destination, consider visiting a place where you have friends and could stay with them instead of a hotel.
It’s a great community which allows you to find people living all over the world who would be willing to host you for free! Keep in mind that the host might expect something from you in exchange – usually people who belong to the community are interested in different cultures and traditions and expect to spend some time with their guests besides only providing an accommodation.
Discover good deals on food and cheap dates options. You will not only find some steals, but also discover new ideas on how spend your dates in a different way.
Consider cost-free entertainment. Visit the parks and free attractions around the city etc.
INVEST INTO FUTURE
Consider opening a common bank account
Decide the amount you both could invest into to cover future visits – accommodation costs, dates etc. It could be as little as 50 USD a month. Small amounts won’t affect your budget, but you will feel the advantages of it the next time some unforeseen costs occurs (and this always happens – changes in visa policy and pricing, cancelled/missed flights, or that expensive rooftop bar you just discovered).
When we opened our common bank account, we not only felt more comfortable about the whole “I don’t know if we will be able to afford our next date” thing, but we also felt that our relationship took a step forward. We were proudly saving up for our future (even though back then it meant saving for just one flight ticket). With time, our monthly amount grew and we never closed that account. Right now we are saving up for our first house 🙂
The financial aspect in long distance relationship requires quite a bit of planning. It also almost guarantees that you won’t be able to consider any additional investment opportunities during this phase. But never forget: life is about memories and the secret to happiness is spending money on experiences (with the people you love), not things.
Do you have any tips on making your long distance relationship more affordable?