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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
345 Money Saving
75 Money Saving Travel Tips
2008 Winter Guide
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