12 Tips To Save on Travel
Let's face it, we all look forward to time away. Time when we can relax and unwind from the pressures of everyday life. However, with the ever-increasing costs related to travel, you can become more stressed out when you start trying to plan a trip and realize you need to cut your time in half if you’re going to be able to afford to go at all. Here are 12 steps to help you trim the budget on your next trip and get the most out of your vacation dollars.
In order to combat rising costs, the travel industry has significantly changed their pricing model in recent years.
Most airlines have migrated to a la carte pricing. There are a few things you can do to limit the cost of your airline tickets.
1. Travel light. Airlines now charge for checked baggage. If you don't need a ton of overhead space for your carry-on, don't pay for early boarding. Be sure and check the airlines size limit for your carry-on. Exceeding that limit could increase your ticket cost significantly.
2. Book early if seat selection is important to you. With the new a la carte pricing model, you will now pay extra for "premium" seating; that's most window and aisle seats and anything in the front two-thirds of the aircraft.
3. Pack your own food and snacks. Airline and airport food is considerably more expensive. This make take a bit of planning but it can save you a ton. If you need an adult beverage to travel, have one in the airport prior to boarding (but limit it to one). Purchasing alcohol onboard can add up quickly.
4. When to purchase airline tickets? Most international fares are available usually 335 days prior to departure. They tend to stay flat for awhile after they're released and start to rise the closer it gets to your travel date. Domestic flights are very expensive when they first come out and tend to drop until 30 days before departure. Inside the 30 day window they will increase significantly as the travel date approaches. We suggest you set up alerts on Airfarewatchdog to monitor fares and sales for your preferred destination(s). Secret Flying and The Flight Deal are also a good sites to monitor for airline deals.
5. Flexible travel dates will save money. Don't travel on days everyone else is trying to get home. Sunday’s are one of the most expensive days to travel. If you stay over an extra night, the savings of the airline ticket(s) alone could be huge compared to the cost of an extra night in the hotel depending on how many you are traveling with.
6. Use Vacation rentals. If you are traveling with a family or larger group, there can be significant savings if you use a vacation rental or condominium instead of a resort. The only drawback to vacation rentals is the required upfront deposit. However, if you purchase travel insurance, this is a minor issue compared to all the other advantages of having multiple bedrooms, a kitchen and being able to experience your destination as a local. I know we typically like resorts because of the pools. However, some vacation rentals offer access to resort pools as part of their rental program.
7. Make lunch a big deal. Food can be one of the most costly expenditures of your trip. Consider making lunch your big meal of the day. Lunch prices are often considerably less than what restaurants charge at dinner. This may be a bit of a mindset change for you but the savings could be up to 30 percent.
8. Breakfast at home. My family is big on breakfast. Eating breakfast out can add up quickly. A quick trip to McDonalds for breakfast burritos and coffee can hit $30 easily here at home. Go to the grocery store and pick up the items you need to prepare breakfast in your room. (Another good reason to stay in a vacation rental.)
9. Prepaid gas plans from the rental car company will cost you moeny. Even though the price per gallon may appear low, they will charge you for a full tank when you return the car no matter how much or how little you have used. With that being said, you must allow enough time when returning the rental car to fill up with gas off-site. Note: Some rental agencies require a receipt to show that you have filled up the gas tank less than 10 miles off airport property.
10. Car Rental Insurance – Many credit card companies and your personal car insurance policy have a rental car insurance benefit included with their membership. Insurance at the rental car counter can be as high as $25.00 a day or more. Do some research before you travel and find out what what benefits your credit card company offers. You could save hundreds of dollars depending on how long you need the car rental. Note: If you use more than one credit card, be sure to pay with the card that has the rental car insurance protection and decline the coverage from the rental company when they ask. Keep in mind that extras are how the rental companies make money. You do not need duplicate coverage if you have confirmed your credit card provider offers rental car protection.
11. NEVER use debit cards. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you could lose everything in your account and more if your debit card is stolen.
Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you the cost of non-refundable flights if an emergency or illness interrupts your travel plans or causes you to have to cancel altogether. A handful of credit cards offer protection against travel delays; you'll get back whatever you spent on meals and lodging while you were stranded during a snowstorm. On some cards, you can get back up to $2,500 if illness forces you to cancel your trip, and $125 per day if your trip is delayed. What's in the fine print: Only a few reasons are considered just cause to cancel: the death of an immediate family member, a serious illness or an injury etc. Be sure to read the benefits section of your credit card provider or purchase trip cancellation insurance. It is worth the investment.