About Us
Governing Documents
Home Repair
Help Articles
Leewood Links
Welcome and Sales


75 Money Saving Travel Tips

The American vacation is becoming more and more expensive. Here are 75 tips to help you save money on your next vacation.

Vacation Planning

Plan Ahead. – The general rule is, the further in advance you book, the cheaper it is going to be. It pays to get organized because the sooner you know your plans and the sooner you get the tickets booked, the more you are going to save. If your plans change at the last minute there are often some last minute bargains to be had. The key to finding these is to shop around. It is always worth looking at the online travel sites like Expedia and lastminute.com as well as talking to your travel agent. You never know when you’ll get lucky.

Stay flexible with your travel dates and times. – Sometimes moving your departure or return date by a day or two will save you money. And don’t forget to price out morning flights and evening flights. If you’re searching fares online (and you should be), try different dates and times to see how the fare may change. Remember, though, that if a change means additional hotel costs, it may not be much of a money saver.

Fun on a flexible schedule. – The more flexible your window of travel, when your trip starts and how long it lasts the more options you have for savings. You'll be able to take advantage of airline ticket sales and the cheapest days to travel. Generally, it's a better deal to travel midweek than over the weekend.

Buy your tickets at least 21 days in advance. – There are usually four different timetables for advance purchase: 21-day, 14-day, 7-day, and 3-day. The further in advance you book your flight, the lower the fare you're likely to find.

Research your destination. – Before you leave, make a list of sightseeing priorities. Use the internet to find free and inexpensive attractions. Every city we visited featured free museums and tours. You can spend a fortune on guided tours if that’s your thing, but the frugal traveler can find plenty to do on her own.

Prepare a budget. – When you travel overseas, you generally know how long you’ll be gone and where you’ll be staying. I don’t keep a budget for daily life, but I did for our European vacation. Before I left, I saved $2100 for the three weeks we’d be gone. I spent some of that in cash, and charged some to a credit card. When I returned, I used the remaining cash to pay the credit card balance. By planning in advance, I knew exactly how much I could spend.

Carry a guidebook. – A travel guide is worth its weight in gold. You’ll pay $20-$30 for a good one, but ultimately the book will save you money. Travel guides feature information on tourist attractions, local customs, and cheap places to eat and sleep. They can give you the inside scoop on the best days to visit museums, or tell you how to find seldom-visited free events.

Take advantage of coupons. – Whether it is for lodging, food, or attractions – coupons SAVE money! Find them everywhere... online, in local newspapers, at convenience stores, motels, etc. Always read the fine print carefully for terms of the coupon.

Take advantage of the chambers of commerce and visitors centers. – You'll find great restaurant discount coupons. Plus, you'll hit on valuable coupons for area attractions and ideas for inexpensive activities.

Avoid tourist traps. – Research places of interest to visit before your trip or visit the local visitors center. By traveling off the beaten path, you'll avoid the expensive tourist traps. Plus, you're often treated to a more interesting vacation, highlighted with personal glimpses of the local culture. Prepare for savings. Tourist spots sell everything from film to sunscreen, bottled water and aspirin for prolonging your fun, at a higher cost. Purchase these items before and save.

Stay Local. – Explore the sites you might not normally visit, like a local museum or holiday festival. Think about places that are within 100 to 200 miles from home, where you can drive in a few hours. Look at the Web site for cities' convention and visitors bureaus. They often highlight local specials you might not read about in your own paper.

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

Top of Page


Keep your airline options open. – Use a travel Web site to search for fares instead of the individual airline sites, and choose "none" as a carrier preference.

Consider another airport. – Find out about all the airports that are near your destination city. You might be able to fly into a smaller airport or neighboring city at a much lower rate.

Stay over a Saturday night. – Airlines quote the highest fares to business travelers, who fly during the week and spend their weekends at home. If you plan to leave for your trip on a Wednesday and return on Saturday, your fare would be considerably higher than if you extended your trip to Sunday morning.

Some Days are cheaper than others. – Fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Some airlines offer cheaper fares on specific days of the week. Generally, it's cheapest to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Remember, though, that a Saturday stay is necessary to receive the lowest rate.

Be flexible about the time of day you travel. – If possible, let the fares dictate the day and time of your departure. Often the less popular early morning or late evening flights have lower rates.

Pick a flight with plenty of open seats. – Seats in a flight are divided into "classes," and each class has its own price. Since the cheapest classes sell first, the fewer seats that are left on a plane, the more expensive they are.

Sign up for a frequent flyer program. – If you are a frequent traveler, it may make more sense for you to fly consistently with the same airline and accumulate frequent flyer miles, rather than base your criteria strictly on which carrier has the lowest fare for a particular destination.

Travel during the slow time. – There are lots of bargains out there for travel during the week after Thanksgiving. Another slow time, with good values out there, is the week after New Years through mid-January. You’ll find big savings during this time as opposed to waiting for the peak winter break travel time.

Avoid traveling around the holidays. – Most airlines have "blackout days" around popular holidays, when fares are more expensive and passengers cannot use frequent flyer miles. However, flying on the day of the actual holiday (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day) generally means low airfares and plenty of seats.

Sign up for fare special e-mails. – When airlines get into a fare war, the cost of a plane ticket can fall overnight and the discounted fare may be sold out by noon the next day. Get on the mailing list of airlines and other travel Web sites so you can be notified immediately if fares drop.

Look into booking your vacation as a package. – You might be able to save by booking your airline tickets along with your hotel room or rental car.

Top of Page

Tips to Getting a Flight Upgrade

Be polite and friendly. – Upgrades are usually at the discretion of check-in staff so a bit of flirtatious charm can go a long way.

Be subtle and discreet. – Airline staff is unlikely to upgrade you if other customers are within earshot.

Scrub up well. – Airline Staff will prioritize customers who look the part, so that rules out any jeans and beach wear.

Join a frequent flier program. – If you're a frequent flier, then you should definitely consider becoming a member. After all they're completely free to sign up to and usually you'll be given priority over low fare economy ticket holders when upgrades are available or necessary.

Get friendly with staff. – Having friends or family who work for the airline will always help. Also, if you regularly fly on the same route, get to know the staff and they'll be more likely to keep you in mind.

Avoid regular business hours. – Flying during the working day obviously means more business people taking up seats and less opportunity for you to fill them. If possible, fly at the weekend or unusual hours to increase your chances.

Fly on planes with larger first class sections. – It goes without saying the more first class seats there are, the more likely it is you'll get one. You can either check the airline's website or use a website to investigate a specific plane's layout.

Get bumped off. – Companies often over-book flights, especially in busy times like school holidays, and hope people will cancel or not turn up. Then they'll ask passengers to voluntarily fly on the next available flight and more than likely offer you an upgrade as well as compensation for the inconvenience.

Celebrate in style. – If you're celebrating a special occasion like your honeymoon always let the staff know. A good tip is to take your marriage certificate with you so you can prove it. You never know, you may get lucky!

Use frequent flyer miles. – If you prefer a guaranteed way to travel in comfort without shelling out, you can always use your frequent flyer miles to top up the flight. Cash in on credit card air miles. Use your credit card to make monthly purchases and pay that balance off every month. The benefit: You'll accrue air miles faster. Cash them in for ticket upgrades and free travel.

Ditch the family! – It's easier to get upgrades when you're travelling on your own. Families and groups aren't likely to be offered them.

Chat up the travel agent. – Try and get the travel agent to annotate your booking with SFU (suitable for upgrade) or CIP (commercially important passenger), while it won't assure an upgrade, it should increase your chances.

What Not To Do

Be demanding. – While it might work for celebrities, having an attitude isn't going to warm the staff to you and they'll be less inclined to give you an upgrade.

Undersell yourself. – While this won't definitely secure you an upgrade, if you're a Doctor or Reverend, make sure you book with this on the ticket. Some peoples' experiences suggest this will help you on your way to getting a luxury seat.

The next best. – If you don't like your chances of getting an upgrade, there are ways to improve the likelihood of getting those much sought-after bulkhead seats with the big leg room. While airlines say these seats are only allocated on the day of flying, frequent flyers may actually be able to pre-book them. If not, why not try checking in online? As well as saving time, you might be able to grab aisle or bulkhead seats this way. If you've a back injury, get a certificate from your doctor to help persuade staff at check-in.


Top of Page

Go Public. – Taking public transport is almost always going to be cheaper than driving, especially if you book in advance. There are some great deals to be had, and you can even turn it into an adventure for the kids or just for yourself. Not only are you going to save some money, but you are also going to be helping the environment.

Top of Page


Rent a car. – What sounds expensive can actually often save you money. If you are driving to your destination, renting a car instead of using your own vehicle is often cheaper than the extra wear and tear on your own car.

Consider renting a car instead of using the airport shuttle. – Many times the cost of the shuttle is more than that of a modest car rental and you have the flexibility of having available transportation. However you might want to avoid renting a car at the airport because you'll find more competitive rates, plus avoid extra surcharges at car rental agencies away from the convenience of the airport. Look into car rental offices away from the airport. Airport fees can raise the price of a rental car up to 10 percent. If the hotel you plan to stay in offers shuttle service, ride the shuttle to your hotel and rent a car there.

Make your reservations as early as possible. – Many companies increase rates as their cars become booked. Also, certain classes of cars will sell out, and you may end up paying for a larger or more expensive vehicle than you need.

Shop online. – The quickest and easiest way to compare rental car rates: Consult a travel Web site. This way you can see what each company charges for the same type of car and length of rental.

Consider the mileage policy. – If you plan on doing a lot of driving in your rental car, make sure that you get unlimited mileage. Car rental companies can charge an exorbitant amount for each mile you go over the limit.

Ask about special rates. – Many rental car companies have weekly, weekend, or seasonal rates. Find out which discounts they offer and then see if your travel plans can be altered to meet their requirements.

Book the smallest car you need. – Often you can upgrade to a larger car at the rental counter at a rate far less than what you would have paid if you reserved that size. However, be aware that an upgrade is not guaranteed, and you may end up stuck with the car you reserved. Ask about all classes and sizes. Sometimes a rental car office may have extra cars in a certain class or size and rent them for even less than the cost of a smaller car.

Compare daily and weekly rates. – If you need to rent a car for four or five days, it may cost less ultimately to book it for a full week.

Use coupons. – Car rental coupons can be found in travel magazines or the travel section of the Sunday newspaper. Make sure to mention your coupon when reserving the car.

Road Tripping

Start your road trip car-happy. – Keep the tires inflated properly. Underinflated tires waste fuel and wear out the tire tread. Plus, a well-tuned engine burns less gas. The right parts and fresh oil keep your engine happy and less thirsty for gas.

Top of Page

Hotel Accommodations

Book in advance. – The cheapest hotel rates can go quickly, so book your room at the same time that you make your travel plans."Hotels in cities are usually cheaper on the weekends, when business travelers aren't staying there, but hotels in resort areas or other places that are popular with leisure travelers are often cheaper during the week," says Doug Stallings, an editor at Fodor's.

Compare packages. – Choosing the cheapest hotel doesn't necessarily save you the most money. Weigh the hotel rates based upon the meals, entertainment, housekeeping, room amenities, airport shuttle service, and activity packages that the hotel may provide.

Check for special deals through your memberships, associations, or clubs. – Sometimes a credit card, a travel agent, or a frequent flyer plan can qualify you for a discounted hotel rate.

Ask your travel agent about booking your room through a consolidator. – Consolidators buy large blocks of rooms and often pass large discounts on to the individual consumer.

Consider staying in a business district. – Since business travelers aren't around during the weekend, hotels in business districts have plenty of available rooms on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights and usually offer discounted rates.

Ask about a suite. – If your family requires more than one bedroom, staying in a suite may be cheaper than reserving separate rooms.

Talk to more than one person. – If you plan to stay in a national hotel chain, call its 800-number before contacting the hotel directly. One might quote you a lower rate than the other.

Consider suburban hotels. – If you don’t absolutely have to be in a downtown location, consider staying in a hotel in the “˜burbs. Often, these hotels offer a great value, and include additional amenities like free parking, complimentary continental breakfasts, etc. A lower room rate is no bargain, though, if transportation costs will eat up all the savings.

Top of Page

Packing Your Bags

Pack light. – Experienced travelers always offer this advice, but rookies seldom heed it. Even if you’re staying in the same hotel for three weeks, packing light can prevent headaches. Pack lightly and carry a spare. Keep things simple. Carry two credit cards, a debit card and enough cash for a few days. That way, you'll have less to protect and it'll be easier to monitor spending. Carry a backup card in a separate place from the rest of your cards.

Pack smart. – Take items that serve double duty. Don’t carry stuff you can buy cheaply at your destination. Leave room in your bag to bring home things you purchase while on vacation.

Carry a money belt. – A money belt is cheap insurance. There are many people who have had cash stolen from purses. It will be nice to know that you have backups in your moneybelt.

Ship Ahead. – Many airlines now have begun to charge passengers for each checked bag and fees up to $100 for bags weighing more than 50 pounds. If you are flying and think you might be overweight it pays to ship some of you luggage in advance. It is far cheaper to do this than to have to pay for excess baggage at the airport.

Carry On. – Split you luggage and take all your essential items as carry on. Airlines are not the most reliable people anyway when it comes to luggage. If you are traveling with more than one suitcase, split your clothes and those of your travel companions into different suitcases. That way if worse comes to worst you won’t be out spending money on essentials because your bags lost. Even if you are only taking one suitcase, it is always worth putting as many essentials as you can into your carry on.

Top of Page

Dining In/Out

Of course you’ll want to try good restaurants. But for many meals, you can save money by picking up food at the grocery store.

Eat lunch in your room. – You'll be surprised how good a peanut butter sandwich, chips, and fresh fruit tastes away from home, and everyone gets a needed break from the heat and crowds of tourist destinations.

Do lunch. – Lunch menus usually offer the same entrees as dinner, just smaller portions and a smaller check. Another cost-cutting palate pleaser: Dine out during the week, rather than the weekends. Often, the menu prices climb over the weekend. Bring your own grub. Travel with a cooler. You won't be purchasing drinks and snacks at every rest stop. Rent a house, condo or efficiency, so you can cook or barbecue. Your meals won't eat away at your budget.

Eat breakfast where kids eat free and split meals. – This can mean an enormous saving for a family of four or larger. Children are many times too excited or tired to eat much at a time. Restaurants that are kid friendly are more than happy to accommodate special requests for extra plates.

Top of Page

How to save money when visiting National Parks or Theme Parks

Bring your own stroller. – This can save $7 to $10 a day at some of the attractions.

Bring along individual refillable water bottles. – These can be refilled at the hotel and at attraction water fountains. A family of four could easily spend $20 or more a day buying water.

Take advantage of multi-day passes at the attractions. – This is especially a good deal when they can be used anytime. These days, if you plan to visit three or more parks in a year's time, the $80 investment in an America The Beautiful Pass (ATB Pass) generally is worth it, as more and more parks are charging either $20 or $25 for entry.

Make your own reservations. – Many hotels and airlines offer additional discounts and specials for booking online.

Give each child a set amount to spend. – You can tame the "gimmes", and your pocketbook at the same time, by giving children a pre-set spending limit for souvenirs.

Spend the day away from the attractions. – You're paying for that hotel swimming pool... use it! Spend the day at the beach or a nearby museum. The shopping areas near the major attractions (like Downtown Disney) have children's play areas, providing an inexpensive day of fun for the little ones.

Top of Page

Overseas Travel

If you’re planning to travel overseas, then in the earliest planning stages, consider the exchange rate. For example, if you were currently choosing between traveling from the U.S. to either London or Argentina, you’d get the most bang for your buck from the latter. I realize there are other considerations, but if you’re in a position to leverage the exchange rate, do so.

Top of Page

Cruise Lines

Early booking gets the cruise deals. – Cruise lines offer many early booking specials, plus you'll save on airfare if you book early to get to the port city. While you may be able to net a low-priced, last-minute cruise deal, the last-minute airfare is more expensive.

Top of Page

Avoid the Fees

Manage your money. – Know which money source is best for each situation. I didn’t understand this, and was dinged with unnecessary fees. For example, you should know that Visa charges a 1% overseas usage fee regardless of whether you’re using debit or credit. Some cards waive this fee. If I had understood my accounts better, I would have used my credit card for most transactions — I would have received the best exchange rate and avoided a common fee. But because my credit card charges 3% to withdraw money from an ATM, I should have used my debit card to obtain cash. Some of this you learn with experience, but it never hurts to review your account policies before making a trip.

Swipe with savings in mind. – Use only your own bank's ATM whenever possible. If one's not available, look for machines with a "No surcharge here" logo. If you plan on using an ATM regularly on your trip, withdraw larger amounts of cash to reduce your number of transactions. Or, when you're at the grocery store stocking up on food and sunscreen, ask for cash back to avoid fees and additional surcharges.

Top of Page


Help sometimes comes at a price or with a hidden agenda, but our helpful guides have neither. We hope that the information in our Leewood Times Guides give you starting points and focus. Our goal is to assist you in making informed decisions.

Here are the links to all the Leewood Times Guides


345 Money Saving Tips

Leewood Times 75 Money Saving Travel Tips

Leewood Times 2008 Winter Guide

Leewood Times Bar-B-Que Tips & Tricks

Leewood Times Employment Guide

Leewood Times Energy Saving Tips Winter / Summer

Leewood Times Guide to Credit Repair

Leewood Times Guide to Fall Festivals

Leewood Times Guide to Going Green

Leewood Times Guide to Holiday Entertaining

Leewood Times Guide to Local Farmers Markets

Leewood Times Guide to New Years Resolutions

Leewood Times Guide to Seasonal Allergies & Pollen

Leewood Times Guide to Spring Cleaning

Leewood Times Guide to the Capital Beltway

Leewood Times Guide to Volunteering

Leewood Times Guide to Voting

Leewood Times Spring Yard Maintenance Tips

Leewood Times Summer Fun Guide





Top of Page

Back To Leewood.us






printerClick for printer friendly page