8 Simple Travel Tips Anybody Can Use to Save
With travel season upon us, many people are keen to take a trip but not so excited about the expenses that come with it.
Airfare, accommodations, and the costs of sightseeing and dining are enough to make some of us reconsider our travel aspirations.
So many resources for budget travelers focus on credit card rewards. Although American travelers can save by using the best travel rewards credit cards, not all of us are so lucky.
The good news is that there are other ways to save on travel that don’t depend on credit card rewards. These 8 options might work for you.
This seems obvious, but if you want to find the best prices on flights and hotels, you should be prepared to shop around.
If you’re loyal to a particular airline, it might pay to broaden your horizons and consider alternatives. The same goes for hotels. Be willing to look at chains you’ve never tried, boutique hotels, and Airbnb.
When shopping for a travel insurance policy, don’t buy the first plan you come across; compare travel insurance companies and find the best coverage and price for your needs.
There are a few peak travel times when everyone wants to travel. Summer, of course. Christmas. Easter. Certain destinations have their own peak seasons based on weather. For example, November to March is when most tourists visit Thailand since the climate is nicest during that time.
The problem with everyone wanting to travel at once is that increased demand means increased prices.
You can generally find cheaper flights and accommodations if you’re willing to travel off-peak. This might mean doing a sightseeing trip in the late fall or even over the winter, instead of in the spring or summer. As long as the weather isn’t intolerable, you can still have a great time touring museums and other tourist attractions, especially if many of them are inside anyway.
Shoulder season, the months between high and low season, can be an attractive alternative for a beach vacation. It usually means the weather won’t be quite as nice, but compared to home, it might be a welcomed improvement. Plus, shoulder season is less crowded, which is always a bonus.
I remember saving 50% on a beautiful beach hotel in Southern Taiwan by visiting in late April. A week later, in early May, the prices doubled. The weather was superb, I didn’t have to battle crowds at the breakfast buffet, and I was thrilled with the bargain.
Airfare tends to be cheaper in the middle of the week than on Mondays or weekends. Business travelers often fly out on Mondays and Fridays are popular for departing leisure travelers and returning business flyers. When demand is high, prices are high.
If you can fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you might enjoy a less expensive fare.
Be Flexible with Dates and Destinations
Work schedules and family responsibilities mean not everyone can be 100% flexible with their travel plans. But the more flexible you can be, the more opportunities you have to save.
This doesn’t work if you need to be in a certain place at a certain time, like when attending a wedding. But if you know you want to go somewhere for a week sometime in the next six months, you can shop around for the most attractive deals.
Google Flights is an excellent tool when trying to identify thrifty travel opportunities. The Explore feature lets you specify your departure point, the duration of travel, and your time frame. You might want a one-week trip in October or a two-week trip in the next six months. They show you the best deals based on those criteria. You might be surprised!
Pounce on Last-minute Hotel Deals
When a hotel is unexpectedly under-booked, they may try to fill rooms by offering discounted prices. The problem, of course, is this happens at the last minute, long after most travelers have reservations elsewhere.
If you’re keen to score a deal, there is a way around this dilemma:
- Step 1: Book a hotel with free cancellation before your trip.
- Step 2: As your trip approaches, check resources like Hotel Tonight and Priceline for last-minute deals.
- Step 3: If you find something attractive, book it and cancel your existing reservation.
The key here is to make sure your existing reservation includes free cancellation, so you never lose money.
Consider a Road Trip
Depending on your destination and your timeline, you might save money on transportation by driving instead of flying.
If you’re traveling a relatively short distance and have time to spare, a road trip can be a memorable experience that’s easier on the wallet. When comparing costs, make sure you consider fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle.
Take the Train
If you’re not up for driving, you can still reap the financial benefits of on-the-ground travel by taking the train instead of flying.
Trains are often more comfortable than flying economy, and you get to take in some scenery along your journey.
When considering the cost of flying vs. taking the train, be sure to consider the cost of transit to the airport. If you’re traveling between two cities by train, you can often go from city centre to city centre, since train stations tend to be central. Airports never are, so getting to and from them adds an extra expense when flying.
Use a Sightseeing Pass
All the other tips deal with how and when you travel. But there are ways to save once you’ve reached your destination, too. If you plan on visiting museums and other tourist attractions that carry admission costs, you may be able to reduce your expenses by using a sightseeing pass.
There are generally two types of passes. All-inclusive options let you access as many attractions as you can in a set number of days. Alternatively, you can look for a pass that includes a set number of attractions. All-inclusive passes typically offer the greatest savings opportunities, but you have to be willing to visit multiple attractions every day. The more you use the pass, the more you save.
If you’ve never bothered to look into sightseeing passes, consider this: some of them can you up to 50%. Definitely worth exploring!
While it can be pricey, travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think. Using a combination of these tips can help you reduce costs and make the most of your holiday.
What are your favorite ways to save on travel? Let us know in the comments!
Sandra Parsons is a freelance writer and staff writer for Club Thrifty, a website dedicated to helping people dream big, spend less, and travel more.