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Let’s face it, airfare can easily be the largest expense of your trip, leaving us to pick a more affordable destination or spend less money at your vacation stop to stay within your spending limit. Since first publishing this blog post in 2013, times have changed and many of the tips offered don’t exactly apply to travel in a post-pandemic era. I’ve also added in other money-saving tips to help along with your travels.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, there are a lot of ways to save money and get the most bang for your buck when you’re planning a trip. If you’re looking to book cheaper travel, here are my top tips:
Plan your trip well in advance. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to find good deals.
Compare prices between different airlines and travel websites. There may be big differences in price depending on where you buy your tickets.
Choose a destination that is affordable. There are plenty of amazing places to visit that don’t cost a lot of money.
Book accommodation that is centrally located. This will help you save money on transportation costs.
Pack lightly so you don’t have to pay extra baggage fees.
Drink tap water instead of buying bottled water (this can also save you a lot of money).
Use public transportation whenever possible (it’s usually much cheaper than taking taxis or renting cars).
Explore your destination on foot – this is an easy way to save money on transportation costs and see more of the city or town you’re visiting.
Bring along some snacks and drinks from home – this can help keep your budget under control while on vacation.
Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s all about being creative and knowing where to look for deals. But, let’s dive in a little deeper, because lucky for you, I’ve got some great tips to help slash your costs with accommodations and transportation. Read on for my top money-saving tricks. You’ll be able to travel like a pro in no time!
Visit During Shoulder Season
Peak-season rates on islands often reflect nearby countries’ vacation schedules rather than the best time to visit. Bali’s hotels, for instance, fill up with Japanese in early May and with Australians in January. In low season, many businesses shut down. Shoulder season–when crowds are thinner, but the weather is still good–is the solution.
Sign Up For Emails & Alerts
The best airfare and hotel sales are typically unannounced. Airlines and hotel companies target specific subsets of travelers and notify them via email. This includes loyalty program members, holders of certain credit cards, and people who have registered on their website. To keep your in-box from getting bombarded, get a dedicated email address for such alerts; and check it when one is ready to start planning your next trip. One of my absolute favorites is Scott’s Cheap Flights for flash deals on flights.
Setting alerts for price drops can help save on flights. Ticket prices can fluctuate on a daily basis, even a small drop can result in large savings if you need to buy a ticket for each member of your family. Google Flights will even show you the different flight trends in a graph format.
When it comes to booking pet travel, Avvinue is a great place to search for flights. They are the new kid on the block that is solving a lot of problems for both pet-travel nd the airline industry by providing an enterprise solution to airlines for the management of pet policies, inventory, and ancillary services for pets. As a traveler, their pet-friendly flights make it painless to find flights for you and your pooch.
Credit card miles are also amazing, and how I travel for the most part. I also LOVE the United Explorer Card. When you sign up, you get to earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months that your account is open. This card is great if you fly United or any of the Star Alliance airlines. Another card I highly recommend for any and all travel is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.
The high-value Ultimate Rewards® points on every purchase, making them an ideal referral for most anyone who travels (or wants to do so). Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus you’ll also get $300 Annual Travel Credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. TSA Pre-check, Global Entry, Uber Rides… all covered by this travel credit!
While you’re waiting out a long layover, nothing seems more enticing than the airport lounge, or even better, being able to freshen up after a long international flight. With amenities like free Wi-Fi, drinks, snacks, outlets to charge up, and glossy magazines, airport lounges feel like the answer to a lot of your travel annoyances. At the very least, they can give you sanctuary from the noise. A lot of credit card companies and airline loyalty programs offer lounge access. United Explorer Card offers two complimentary passes per year and the Reserve Cards and Amex offer lounge access through Priority Pass.
Get The Best Room For Your Dollar
At luxury properties, rates vary considerably according to occupancy. A room could be $450 one week because there is a large group, and $250 the next because nobody is coming. For top-end hotels that have on-site reservations desks, call and ask the manager when, during your travel window, the hotel will be emptiest and therefore have the lowest rates. Then ask something like, “If I come on that date, would there be a chance of an upgrade to ocean-view?”
Even better? Travel apps and websites like Safara Travel and HotelTonight offer same-day deals on hotels. This is one of my go-to’s when it comes to last-minute hotel stays. I’ve gotten a chance to stay at really nice hotels for a fraction of the cost. Currently, Safara Travel is invite-only. If you use my link, you can bypass the wait and get $50 in hotel travel credits.
Time Your Travels Right
Traveling off-peak days — and at off-peak times — means lower fares, a less crowded cabin, and a greater chance of snagging those elusive mileage award seats. It used to be that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays used to be the best days. But according to travel data from May-December in 2018, booking flights for domestic travel on Saturdays and international flights on Sunday for the cheapest day to book a flight. Want to play it safe? When looking at all destinations around the world, Sunday on average had the cheapest.
Hop Between Cities at Midday
When traveling through Europe or Asia, and wanting to get from one city to another; consider scheduling transportation for the middle of the day.
Why? Because if you are leaving at dawn, you might miss the sunrise–ideal for photography and observing locals. Sunrise is also a great time to get those amazing Instagram shots with no one around. Plus, leaving in the wee hours of the morning, you’ll likely reach your destination at midday, when temperatures are the highest, the light is at its worst for photos, and it is too early to check into your hotel. You’ll also fight rush-hour commuters and miss a breakfast that is included in your hotel rate.
Well, there you have it! My top tips for booking cheaper travel. I hope you found these helpful. Do you have any travel tips of your own to share? Share them with me on @valeriealvarez & @wearelivethelittlethings and let’s help each other save some money on our next trip! Happy travels!
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.