TOP 10 WAYS TO CUT TRAVEL COSTS
By Deborah Wheeler
If you have a large desire to travel, with only a small budget to get there, then you will appreciate these Top 10 tips to cut your travel costs!
1. Look for travel packages
Look for package deals that combine air and hotel costs into one package. Most of the major airfare search sites have an option to also search for vacations. For example: If you are looking for flights on hotwire.com, try clicking on the vacations tab hotwire.com/package to find packagesthat combine your hotel and flight. You may find the package price to be a much better deal than the airfare and hotel costs booked separately. Most major airlines also have a separate website for vacation packages. Sites like Delta Vacations can help you compare costs and find the best price for your trip.
2. Use frequent flyer miles
Sign up for frequent flyer programs that offer multiple ways for travelers to add mileage to their frequent flyer account. Even if you are not a frequent flyer who racks up thousands of miles each month, you can often add miles to your account just by signing up, buying certain products, using partner sites, participating in surveys, or even by purchasing miles to add to the account.
3. Join a hotel loyalty program
Some hotel chains offer loyalty programs similar to frequent flyer programs. These preferred guest accounts can be helpful if you regularly use a particular hotel chain or join a hotel program that offers free nights after only a few stays. Some hotel chains like Starwood include nine different hotels brands (such as Sheraton) in their Starwood Preferred Guest program, so you may find that points accrue even when you stay in a wide variety of locations and a variety of hotels.
4. Bring your food
You can save plenty of money and avoid eating out every meal when you travel, if you buy food at a local grocery store or a farmer’s market at your destination. This can be an excellent way to see your destination, interact with the locals, enjoy unique regional flavors, and add a great experience to your trip. Have fun visiting the places the foodies frequent and come away with delicious dining options to enjoy in your hotel room or as a picnic in the local park. You can also avoid airport food, which can be both tasteless and expensive, by bringing a picnic with you to the airport. That way, you will eat well while waiting for the plane or during the flight and avoid being stuck with costly, unappealing, and limited choices.
5. Sign up for airfare alerts
There are several helpful websites that will track the cost of flights for you and alert you when the fare goes on sale. One of the websites that will send you regular emails for flight prices is: airfarewatchdog.com. Southwest Airlines also offerairfare notifications for deals that can be delivered to your email or desktop at: southwest.com/flight/subscription.
6. Travel off-season
Traveling off-season will generally help you save on airfare and hotels. Find out when the peak season occurs for the destination you are interested in, then, consider visiting just a few weeks earlier or later than when the crowds will really hit the area. By traveling outside of the high-season, you get the double bonus of cheaper travel and avoiding the crushing hoards of people.
7. Travel midweek
If you have the luxury of flexible travel dates, consider traveling midweek. Air fares and hotel rooms are usually cheaper midweek. Avoid the busy weekends and enjoy the opportunity to visit sites when they are much quieter during the week.
8. Consider regional airlines
Look at regional airlines serving your airports to compare airfares and find the best prices. The smaller airlines do not advertise as widely as the big brands and many are not even included in popular online airfare search websites. Check out the individual websites for each regional airline to ensure you are getting the best price from the airports you are using.
9. Skip the rental car
Car rental costs can easily overwhelm a tight travel budget. Picking up a car at the airport and surprise fees often make it painful to pay for rental cars. Instead, research alternative transportation options for your destination. Are there trains, light rail, or subways available at your destination? Are there hop-on-hop-off city tours, city buses, or trollies available? Are your major sightseeing destinations within walking distance or can you take a cab if needed? Can you rent bikes or segways to get around town? Do the locals travel by cable car, funicular, or rickshaw? Then you can, too! Look for transportation alternatives to the rental car or plan a visit to a destination that is entirely walk-able. Some of the best trips can be those that are focused more intensely on a smaller area. And rather than spending your vacation time in a car, you can enjoy your time at the local hot spots or really relax, unwind, and slow down.
10. Day trips
Day trips are a great way for those with a passion for travel to save money and explore the world. Many times we do not take advantage of the great opportunities available in our own home cities and states. Day trips avoid the cost of hotel stays and you can often bring your food from home for additional savings. A good day trip to a special destination can be as satisfying as a trip to a far off exotic destination. Explore your own backyard and see the best of your area. For some day trip ideas and recommendations, see the article on Budget Saver Travel.