Vacation season is nearly here, and I’m sure a lot of couples and families will be preparing for a trip in the coming months. It’s no secret that traveling is expensive, but it’s also a highly sought after experience.
While the best way to reduce the cost of travel may be to travel during off-peak seasons like in January, a lot of people don’t have that option or availability. Saving up for a trip several months ahead of time is a good idea and while it will allow you to get organized and feel less overwhelmed, it will not necessarily reduce the expenses of your trip overall. Luckily, there’s dozens of ways to cut costs when you’re trying to save money on your next trip.
Here are 6 super easy ways to reduce the costs associated with travel.
1. Check Flight Prices Regularly
If you aren’t able to drive and must book a flight, the ticket prices can be your largest expense. It’s important to start shopping for flights early and leave yourself enough time to compare airlines and prices. I almost never book my flight during the first search. I check pricing on a few other sites and wait a few days, since flight prices usually fluctuate.
If you can deal with a stopover instead of flying directly to your location, you might be able to score a cheaper ticket price as well. If your schedule is flexible, try to book a flight during an off-peak time like on a Saturday night. Utilize sites like Kayak.com and Priceline.com to compare flight prices to ensure you are getting the best deal.
2. Pack Light and Limit Luggage
Depending on how long your trip is, you might be able to get away with one carry-on suitcase. Most airlines allow you to bring one carry-on piece of luggage and a personal item on board for free. However, if you have more items to bring, make sure you research your airline’s policy and weight limits to make sure your luggage is not over the weight limit and subjected to an extra charge.
Your best bet would be to pack lightly regardless of where you are going and how long your stay will be. Consider the essential items like basic clothing and socks, and leave the rest at home. Plus, you’ll want to leave extra room in your suitcase for souvenirs and other items you might bring home.
When I went to Ireland for 4 weeks a few summers ago, I only brought one large suitcase and one carry-on and I had plenty to last me the remainder of the trip. I folded all my clothes and put them in air compression bags to maximize the space in my suitcase. The reusable air compression bags worked wonders and they were really affordable.
3. Be Flexible With Your Living Accommodations
All-inclusive resorts shouldn’t be the ‘end all be all’ if you’re looking to save money. Yes, some all-inclusive resorts will save you money by putting one ticket price on everything but other times it won’t be so “all-inclusive”.
Those ‘free’ meals and amenities all come with a price and it’s very easy to overspend on extra activities and services by the end of your trip. Prepaying for your hotel stay and locking in a rate, along with choosing a smaller hotel chain with a location that isn’t so prime can also save you money. For example, if you were visiting Vegas I’m sure a stay at a hotel right along the Vegas strip would cost way more than one at a hotel located a few blocks away.
You can also consider opting out of a hotel stay and securing alternative living arrangements if you’re really looking to save money. AirBnb is an online community marketplace that allows you to rent out other’s people homes or apartments when you travel.
Most times you will receive more space for less money when compared to an average sized hotel room so more and more people are choosing this unique type of lodging option. With over 800,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries, there’s bound to be a living space to accommodate your needs. Before you book anything, you should do your research and ensure that AirBnb is suitable for you and your situation.
4. Cash in Your Credit Card Reward Points
If you carry a few high-yield rewards credit cards and use them wisely each month, chances are you may have some reward points laying around that you can cash in to reduce the price of your flight, hotel stay, or other travel related expenses. Even if you have a general cashback credit card, you can use the cash you earned over the year to reduce your expenses for your next trip.
Lots of people actually churn credit cards due to the convenience of the reward points they offer. I don’t consider myself an expert in credit card churning or credit card hacking for travel, but I was able to book a free flight to North Carolina for later this year thanks to a sign-on bonus I earned after taking advantage of an American Express offer.
If you want to learn more about earning travel rewards, optimizing frequent flyer miles, and choosing the best credit cards to help you earn reward points to use for travel, check out RichmondSavers.com.
5. Check for Deals on Entertainment
Even if you want to splurge a bit on your trip, it doesn’t hurt to keep your eye out for discounts on attractions and other forms of entertainment. A little savings can go a long way when you’re looking to make the best of your trip and avoid being stressed out about money. Living Social offers a wide range of deals on attractions, restaurants, concerts and more.
If you have several things you’d like to see during your stay always check to you if you can purchase some sort of multi-event pass or all-inclusive entertainment pass that will grant you admission to several attractions for one discounted price. This will help you get more bang for your buck instead of having to pay regular price and separately for each thing that you do during your trip.
6. Avoid Touristy Restaurants
When it comes to dining out, ask the locals for recommendations to avoid touristy overpriced restaurants. If you’re looking for an authentic dining experience, you will probably go this route anyway.
It’s a good strategy to use to avoid ‘tourist traps’ which are popular restaurants with subpar food and expensive prices. When you’re trying out a new restaurant in a new city you want to be wowed by the food and the locals will definitely be able to point you in the right direction.
Depending on how long your stay is you can also purchase a few groceries to prepare some light meals so you don’t have to have to dine out for every meal. When I was in Ireland I bought my own breakfast items along with some snacks at the local market and since lunch was included with my stay, I generally only had to worry about dinner. That way, I still got to try new restaurants without spending an excessive amount of money on food for my month-long stay.
What is your favorite method to cut expenses when you travel?