The truth is, financial stability is one of the most important conditions for your long distance relationship to run smoothly. Meeting your sweetheart will not only require you to make plans in advance, but also gather some savings before you can even think about seeing them. If you need to travel across the globe and are not a great planner, your LDR might become impossible.
I have to admit, me and my man used to be the worst in cutting down the expenses. We used to forget that planning is essential when travelling. We spent too much money and ended up learning the hard way.
So, here’s our piece of advice on how to travel cheap when going to meet your significant other:
#1 Split the cost
Your incomes might be different depending on the countries you both live in and a 400 USD flight ticket might feel completely okay for one’s wallet, but not another’s. Even if you decide to split the total travel cost evenly (in case one of you is travelling), that might not be a good solution. That’s why you should talk to each other about your finances at the beginning of the relationship.
This will help you plan your travels, meeting places and find the most efficient ways to spend time with each other at most affordable costs!
#2 Meet in the middle
If you get good at researching for flights, meeting in the middle, instead of visiting each other, might significantly reduce the travel times and costs.
Be aware of one drawback: relationships over distance will seriously affect your work/studies attendance. If both of you have to take days off at school/work for meeting each other in the middle, you may be forced to have one meeting instead of two (both of you paying a visit to each other).
Even though I used to love meeting my man in the middle (we are travel addicts- we could not only meet, but also discover new places during the same visit), we visited each other’s city more often and met in the middle only on special occasions. That way, whenever I was visiting my man he was still able to work (and make the best out of my visit during the night!) and save his leaves for visiting me another time.
#3 Do the flight cost comparison IN ADVANCE
There were times when I bought flight tickets just hours before the flight! I don’t even want to think how many tickets I could have bought if I did my research few months (or at least a week) in advance.
Tip: the best time to buy a flight ticket is 3 months before the journey. If you do it earlier than that, it might be more expensive.
#4 Fly from alternative airports on unpopular days/ times
Always look out for flights from alternative airports and don’t fly on the weekends or during daytime. The cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The best times (price-wise) to fly are during night, lunch, and dinner hours.
#5 Pack light (and smart)
Usually cheapest flight tickets allow only a small carry-on bag. I understand, you might not be interested in travelling like a backpacker when you are going to see your significant other (as you need to prepare for romantic dinners, too)… but packing light is possible! You just need to give it some thought. For more advice on packing light (and smart), check out this article.
#6 Take food from home to eat on board
Even if you find a really good deal for your flight, there is still a risk to spend a big amount of money during your layover (which is most likely to be VERY long if you buy a cheap ticket) and on food for the time when you are in the air. Make sure to prepare for the layover and bring your own food- a sandwich made at home will be MUCH cheaper and tastier than the one you will purchase in the plane for 10-15 USD. Get some movies or books which will help to pass the time in the airport instead of shopping.
#7 Don’t eat out
Try to find an accommodation with some kind of kitchen. Recently we spent 150 USD for dinner (not even including the drinks!) in Hong Kong because we hadn’t done our research on cheaper restaurants beforehand. Walking around and picking a place is not good for the wallet! If you don’t have a small kitchen in a place you stay, try to have a basic breakfast at home and buy ready-made lunch sets or dinners in the supermarket. Find a nice park or take advantage of the terrace at your Airbnb (if you got one). Add candles, wine a sunset and you will have an amazing date set-up at no cost!
#8 If you eat out, do your research
Take advantage of your smartphone and search for affordable local eateries beforehand. Keep in mind: whenever you eat out in touristy places, get ready to pay 2-3 times more, even if the place looks simple.
It’s hard to be conscious about your finances when you are in a long distance relationship- every time you meet your love feels like a special occasion (you want to pamper them and have a memorable moment together). I remember, even if we used to stop ourselves from going out for a romantic dinner, we could barely say no to a glass of wine while discovering a new city.
Tip: if you are desperate for dinner/drinks out, at least take advantage of the happy hour or check out for dinner deals on Groupon!
#9 Visit free attractions
I think that being in a long distance relationship allowed me to travel and discover plenty of new places, not only see my boyfriend. It’s amazing- you get to explore new countries and be with your best buddy. Having said that, we always remembered that the main reason of travelling was to be with each other. We used to spend entire evenings doing nothing or cooking together, lying in bed or on the grass in the park looking at each other’s eyes. Sometimes we used to spend our precious weekends together working. It didn’t really matter, having the most important person in the same room made all the difference.
Don’t forget that every city has plenty of free tours activities you can do without spending any money!
#10 Try alternative accommodation options
Go through this article to learn and get inspired about alternative accommodation options, ways to save money and discover a new culture. Apart from Airbnb and Couchsurfing, you will learn about home swiping or options to work in organic farms and help the hosts in exchange for food, housing and knowledge. I highly recommend to try at least few options and discover a new way of living, meet new people and get to know your sweetheart even better!
One more hard-learnt lesson: a cab ride from the club in Tokyo to our Airbnb recently cost us more than a return flight from Hong Kong to Japan. Avoid taking cabs when you are travelling! Use public transport and walk to your destination instead- walking is the best way to discover the city, to feel the real city vibe and clear your head. Taking a cab in a place you don’t know is always risky: unfortunately, cab drivers all over the world will try to take an advantage of a tourist who doesn’t know the city.
#12 Live like a local
Don’t go to eat or hang out in touristy places- even a casual dinner will make sure to take extra money from your pocket just because it’s in a touristy location. Discover eateries where the locals go- they might be poorly decorated, but will reward you with the best local dining experience and affordable prices! Sometimes they are just a few blocks from the main tourist areas!
What are the ways you try to make your dates cheaper? Share in the comments!