The Beginner DJ Blog

Travel Hacking for Festival Hoppers: A Guide to Saving Hundreds on Flights, Cheap Sleep, and a Change of Pace

Muxx July 16, 2012 General No Comments

I’ve been able to check out some truly amazing festivals, clubs, and locations over the last few years such as Eclipse Festival in Canada, EDC in Las Vegas, crazy clubs in Tokyo, and even party in Haad Rin (where the Thai full moon parties are held).

There’s really nothing special that I do to afford these trips – it’s just a bit of comfortable sacrifice.

That’s what this post will be about. I’m throwing together a list of travel hacks so you can get out to more festivals and different party locations.

After all, ticket prices are already a bitch.

The Quick Overview of Travel Hacking

There are a lot of great books, websites, and articles on travel hacking you could dig through (such as this one, this one, and that one) but sometimes it gets a little too in-depth with shaving off that extra few dollars.

Instead of nit-picking every detail, I say to just focus on the big wins, which (for me) are:

  • Cheap flights
  • Cheap sleeps
  • Cheap (but awesome) eats

In Tokyo, my friend and I found ourselves absolutely broke on a few occasions. We partied with homeless people. But still found our way into clubs and lurking the city. I mention this because this is the real experience – not just swinging into some big chain hotel, eating at chain restaurants, going to a party, and then heading back home.

There’s a certain amount of dirtiness I believe festival hoppers look for. You’re looking for a real experience to go along with the party. You need to keep the costs down but excitement at its max.

So, that gives us the overview and, partly, the reasoning. Here’s how it breaks down …

#1: Landing Cheap Flights

I’ve found that booking about 6 weeks in advanced, during the middle of the week to generally give the best rates. For you guys that can cut it really close than consider booking it within a day or two – because the flights are trying to fill out their seats and will take a small price hit.

The 6 week mark seems to be a sweet spot between keeping your options open (times) and flexibility. Personally, I recommend that if you can get there a day or two earlier (or later) than set the flight search with the +/- 3 days. Yeah, you’ll end up paying for an extra night of sleep but more on that later …

My favorite tool for snagging flights is Kayak.

I would also suggest taking a look at AirBnb.

Flight prices will also fluctuate throughout the day, I’ve found. When you’re trying to snag a good ticket price, try to do so in the morning, mid-day, and night. Just keep checking in from time to time. Doing so has saved me quite a bit of money when doing long distance flights.

Another travel hack to consider is using the main airport “hubs”. These main hubs (think: JFK International) are so heavily used that you’ll often find flights to these locations to be way cheaper. This means you’ll need to arrange a bit of transport but the money you’d be saving would cover the costs plus you get to see some awesome sights along the way.

Lastly, there are some situations where you are able to book a flight to a further destination but your ideal place is the layover. In that situation, you’d be using the hub trick but making sure the layover is correct. Once you’re at your place, just don’t hop on the next flight. (I wouldn’t really put too much effort into this though).

Overall, if you can save some extra money by playing with Kayak and trying the different fluctuations than you’re already 1/3 of the way there.

#2: Cheap Sleeps

Hostels are awesome. No, not hotels – hostels. Believe it or not, the U.S. has a lot of hostels (not nearly as other countries and regions of the world but they’re still there).

HostelWorld and are your go-to sources for finding cheap sleeps. You’ll generally save about 50% compared to hotel costs.

You already know the process of doing online booking so we’ll skip that. Instead, I wanted to give you an idea of hostels because you may be the hotel-type.

Hostels offer a far better experience than hotels. In hotels, you’re really confined to your room or, depending on location, some lobby or pool – boring, right? Hostels, on the other hand and from my experience, each have their own, unique style.

The hostel I was at during Mardi Gras allowed people to draw on the walls – it was like an art house with tons of interesting people and cheap food from the “resident” chefs. The hostels in Japan were extremely clean, had beer vending machines, allowed you to cook, and was close to the action – and were a fraction of the price of hotels. Thailand? How about $3 – $5 a night? Yeah, it was cheap as hell.

I think people just have this bad idea bout hostels because they’re far more independent than the chain hotels – plus there’s the movie Hostel that definitely spooked you about travel, admit it. However, the reality is that all the people you meet at these places are extremely entertaining, full of awesome stories, and will generally give you a lot of great tips about where to go and what to see in the area vs. just some travel guide you grab in the hotel lobby.

Also, there’s always couchsurfing where you crash at people’s house that are on the network. This may seem a bit scary but that’s why you make sure the people are chill, reviewed, and doesn’t look like a creep.

#3: Cheap Eats

Food vendors will generally give you the best mix of good food and respectable price.

In Thailand, we nearly always ate from the local street vendors. You should see the places – buzzing with flies – dirty as hell – but guess what? The food was epic, we never got sick, and money was going to the locals instead of some chain restaurant.

The only problem we have here in the U.S. is that there really aren’t a lot of food vendors on the street – I don’t know – maybe people are just afraid that they’ll get sick?

My travel tip is that you talk with the locals for the best locations to eat. They’ll give you an idea on the pricing and you get to have a really unique experience to your travel. If you’re not all that social than you could always use Google to hunt down places to eat.

However, if you want to save the most money than cook at the hostel. Many hostels will have a kitchen area you can use so just swing by the grocery store or local market and pick up what you’d normally make vs. dropping $10 – $20 each meal going out.

The money you save on food can be used for other, more enjoyable things during your travel and festival going.

Changing Pace

This is a pretty interesting topic to have here on BDJ but I think it’s really fitting. After all, I’m sure a lot of you do attend festivals here and there. I’m sure a few of you even want to do a world-wide tour bouncing between all the big clubs, party, and festivals.

I wanted to put something together that may help with the quest to have a better time. Doing these things will help you save money so you can go to the next festival without being broke or have extra money to do some extra things when you’re in the area.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the article.



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