Last summer I spent most of my downtime searching for travel deals, information on cost-effective travelling, and price trends for flights. My fiancé, David, and I were still in a long-distance relationship. We had decided he would come to visit me (over 1,000 miles away) at the end of the summer, but we soon decided that we needed to meet up before then, too. We knew we only had a few days to spare, limited funds, and jobs that needed us, but being apart was very difficult. The longing was becoming unbearable and we were both ready to throw any amount of time and money at this trip to see each other briefly.
It was while planning this trip that I learned how to travel in a more cost effective way and manage money more effectively with my partner. We now live together and see each other every day so I don’t need all this long distance relationship travelling knowledge at the moment, but I know that there are many of you out there trying to figure out how to see your love and save some money at the same time. So here are my top tips for cost-effective long distance relationship travel…
1. Get the deals
Planning your trip ahead of time will always save you more money than scheduling travel at the minute. Ask your other half to give you an estimated time that will be best for them to travel and start looking for flight deals around that time (about 45 days in advance for domestic travel). Flying on the weekend will always be more expensive than flying during the week. Bundling your travel necessities can be a great way to save money on your flight, hotel room, and a rental car. Shopping around is always a good bet. If you are military, have an AARP card, or have a government ID you might be eligible for discounts.
2. Co-ordinate time off work
To organize your paid time off so that you are both getting paid while on vacation, it’s vital to plan well in advance. Make a plan one year in advance and agree to take four trips together for four days each, or whatever plan works best for you. However, if your normal days off are on the weekend and you are flying, do the math to see whether weekend travel or taking unpaid time away saves you more money.
3. Keep looking forward
Making plans to see each other can be very mentally rewarding for both of you. Sometimes, when you’re in a long-distance relationship, you will find yourself feeling that you will never be with your love again, or that the long-distance will last forever. Having a trip to plan can give you something to look forward to and talk about.
- Download a countdown app and celebrate each time the date gets a month or a week closer.
- Download the app called “Couple.” You can “thumb kiss,” keep track of important dates together, and draw pictures together.
- Send a countdown gift to your sweetheart. This can be a jar of jelly beans where they eat one a day until you see each other or a set of “open when” letters for them to open when they are getting on the plane, or waiting at their layover, or one hour before you get there.
Managing the Money
4. Sharing expenses
Sharing expenses can help travelling become more feasible for each of you. This can be a tricky topic for all couples, not just those in long-distance, so keep the communication about money open and honest with your partner (check out this useful series if you want some good tips on talking about money with your partner). If there are certain things that you can’t afford or you feel like you are footing most of the bill, tell your partner so it doesn’t become a bigger issue. But, if feasible, it can help both of you feel more invested in the trip and the relationship if you agree to split the costs.
5. Credit cards
Miles, miles, miles! This is the number one way to save money on travelling by air. Getting an airline credit card will enable you to earn miles with every purchase you make. Don’t make the mistake of using a credit card that doesn’t give back. Also, if you are sharing expenses this is a great way to do so. Use the credit card for your travel expenses and have one of you be in charge of paying the bill and calculating out expenses and let the other person know what their share is. This also takes the pressure off of having all the cash needed for travelling up front. Travelling can be an expensive adventure, so having a credit card can take off a lot of stress from both of you and you are earning miles for your next trip together with every purchase you make.
6. Cost effectiveness
If you are looking to see each other but you afford a lot of extras, just stick with the super cost effective options. This includes flying at inconvenient times, staying at low-end hotels, taking public transportation, limit time spent eating out, and visit a great park instead of spending money on entertainment.
- Most hotels have a “no walk” rate that they quote if you turn down the original quote. Don’t settle at the first price quoted, they are usually negotiable.
- Visit restaurants off the beaten path. They will be less expensive and not as busy. Stay off the top list for restaurants in your area on TripAdvisor.
- Steer clear of tourist traps. Find attractions that locals visit, they will be less expensive.
Pick a Place
7. Destination meeting
Meeting each other at a destination is one option to meet each other. This is great for an adventure while seeing your honey, but it is much more cost effective to meet at each other’s home. This will save money in virtually every area. Only one of you will need to fly, you won’t have to eat out every night, you won’t need a hotel or a rental car, and your entertainment can be a movie on Netflix and cuddles on the couch. Consider mixing your meetings up a bit so that a few can be spent at the other’s home to save on money.
8. Forms of long distance relationship travelling
There are a lot of ways to travel to see your love. Flying is usually the fastest but the other options available to you might be worth the lowered expense. Look into driving, taking the bus, or even a train. Flying into major airports tends to be a cheaper flying option, so consider having both of you fly into a major airport and taking the next leg via rental car together. The options are limitless here if you are willing to look into all of the options.
- When road tripping together, play some fun road trip games to pass the time. This will make the potentially boring drive into something you both can have fun with.
- Make a road trip playlist together. Include your favorite love songs so you can serenade each other on your drive.
- When travelling via bus or train, make sure your electronics are charged before boarding. Many don’t offer outlets.
9. What to do
Make sure the expectations and hopes about what to do during your visit are out in the open so that you aren’t planning all four days out exploring, going out, seeing shows, and eating out if your partner was hoping to spend the whole trip at home or in the hotel with you. Meet in the middle and find things that both of you would like to do. Don’t go overboard if your budget can’t manage it. Never underestimate the intimacy of a late night walk under the stars or a picnic under a shaded tree.
What travel tips have you and your sweetie come across in your long-distance relationship?
Author Bio: Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. Her and her fiancé, David, are LDR veterans and are planning on getting married at the end of next summer. Follow her on twitter at @chelsy5.