Thrifty Traveler: How To See the World Without Breaking the Bank
Friends, family, and acquaintances frequently ask Jared Kamrowski how he affords to travel so frequently. “We don’t have a ton of money and people have this notion that we are too young to be able to travel as much as we do,” he confesses. “I have to explain how we book most of our flights and hotels using points and miles, which we primarily earn through credit card sign-up bonuses. After a while we had friends of friends contacting us wanting to know how to do this.”
Creating a site was an easy way to answer everyone’s questions in one place. As someone who spends a lot of time on the road for his work as a CPA, the founder and editor-in-chief of Thrifty Traveler (www.thriftytraveler.com) knows a thing or two about how to navigate airports and hotels.
“I’m not a fan of sitting in my hotel room watching TV,” Kamrowski says. “Building the site seemed like the best use of those nights away from home. I’m passionate about travel, photography, and technology. It’s a great fit.”
With a full-time job as a CPA, Kamrowski says most people don’t realize Thrifty Traveler is actually just a hobby of his and contributor Nick Serati. “I wake up daily at 5 a.m. to start posting and then write more after work. It’s like working two full-time jobs, but it’s a passion project and I love the work.”
“I got into the ‘points game’ back in 2009, when I started traveling for work,” he continues. “I stumbled on the Points Guy’s site in 2011. His site focuses on credit card travel rewards, and he’s one of the major inspirations for Thrifty Traveler.”
Credit card rewards is only one component of Thrifty Traveler, with the majority of the site’s content being flight deals and other travel tips and news. According to Kamrowski, the focus is really “to show people that no matter what stage in life or financial situation you are in, you can make travel a priority.”
“I never realized how many people are looking to save on their next trip,” he shares. “I’ve received emails from people who are doctors, travel agents, broke college kids, and empty nesters. Everyone is looking to save money on their next trip, regardless of how much money they have. Knowing how and where to find the best deal can be tough. That’s where Thrifty Traveler steps in.”
Thrifty Traveler lists eight to ten flight deals daily, while also posting travel tips, points and miles redemption guides, and up-to-date insider information on the best ways to save money on trips. Kamrowski highly recommends readers sign up for the daily newsletter to never miss a post. Minnesota residents with a bit of wanderlust have extra incentive to visit the site: there is no better site to find a cheap flight out of Minneapolis since Thrifty Traveler features at least one deal from Minneapolis almost every day.
“The idea that you can get the best deal booking flights at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, or some other random time, rarely works,” Kamrowski says. “Whoever came up with those articles was looking for clickbait. The big thing is to avoid booking too close to your day of departure. That’s when fares can become very expensive. We recommend booking two months before a domestic flight and three months before an international flight.”
For those who can’t help but book last-minute, there is still hope. Kamrowski’s thrifty tip: “Sun Country features weekly last-minute fares on their website every Tuesday morning. They’re unbeatable.”
Kamrowski suggests avoiding flying Frontier or Spirit unless you know how all the fees work. “It might appear cheap up front but, after all the fees, you’ll likely be paying more than you bargained for,” he advises. “We recommend flying Southwest or Sun Country if you’re looking for a budget carrier. Both fly out of Terminal 2 at MSP, which is less congested and more comfortable than Terminal 1.”
While flights deals are by far the most popular part of the site (the number one post is “How to Book the Cheapest Flight Possible”), the site features plenty of other content to help readers save on their next trip. One of Kamrowski’s personal favorites is “How to Book the Best Seat Possible,” since, as he says, there is nothing worse than booking an expensive flight and being stuck next to the bathroom the whole time.
Interestingly, Thrifty Traveler didn’t start with flight information. Instead, the site launched in April 2015, with an “American Travel Guide to Cuba.” Kamrowski visited Havana the month before and, because Cuba is unknown and mostly uncharted territory for Americans, the article has been a big hit (he recommends visiting soon before it gets overrun with tourists).
Other popular posts on the site include everything from “Top 6 All-Inclusive Resorts You Can Book with Points” to “Never Pay Another ATM Fee Again” and “10 Tips to Cut your Travel Time.”
8 Travel Tips from the Thrifty Traveler
- Google Flights is the best way to find the cheapest flight deal. I use it to find almost all of the flight deals on the site.
- Avoid exchanging money at the airport; it’s usually a terrible exchange rate.
- Get a debit card with no international ATM fees. My favorite is offered by Schwab. A Schwab High Yield Investor account can be opened online for free and has no ATM or foreign transaction fees anywhere. You’ll never have to pay an ATM fee again.
- Check out Airbnb before booking a hotel. You can save quite a bit over staying in a hotel.
- Uber works in most major cities around the globe. Use it to avoid confusion and possibly over-paying for a cab.
- Stick to credit cards which feature no foreign transaction fees.
- Use public transportation whenever possible. We always try to take the subway or trains when we arrive at a destination.
- When making debit or credit card purchases in foreign countries, always pay for items in their local currency. You may be asked if you want to pay in dollars or the local currency. You’ll get a much better conversion if you pay in the local currency.