Monday, September 22, 2008

Money-Saving Travel Tips

Traveling is getting more expensive with high fuel costs and increased airline fees — not to mention, car rental fees, theme-park attraction fees, pricey hotel rates, high food costs, and other expenses. Whether you’re planning a family getaway, a business trip, or a vacation, it’s important to budget your trip and spend your money where it counts. Here are some money-saving travel tips to help you lower your travel costs:

  1. Enroll in a frequent flyer program. If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s more cost effective to fly with the same airline and earn frequent flyer miles, rather than shopping around for lower fares with different carriers. You can redeem your frequent flyer miles for free tickets, get hotel accommodation, enjoy business class services, and much more.
  2. Don’t travel around the peak holidays. Flight tickets are more expensive during the busy holiday season when airlines have “blackout” dates. During the blackout period, you cannot use frequent flyer miles and airlines do not give out special offers.
    However, on the day of the actual holiday (i.e. Thanksgiving Day, Christmas’s Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day), you can find great bargains and plenty of seats.
    It’s best to travel during off-peak season. Cheaper deals and more seats.
  3. Fly during the weekdays. Most airlines offer promos for flying on specific days of the week. For example, you can get cheaper fares flying on Tuesday and Wednesday instead of Friday or Saturday.
  4. Fly early or late in the evenings to get lower rates.
  5. Avoid renting a car at the airport. If you need to rent a car, try renting at a local neighborhood near the airport. You can avoid paying airport surcharges and other fees. Check out our car rental coupons for savings and discounts
  6. Use flexible search tools. Most travel booking web sites offer flexible search options that you can use to find the lowest airfares over a range of days. Travelocity offers great flexible date search options, allowing you to see how much you can save by leaving a day early or later based on the date you specified. Adjust your departure and arrival schedule to fit the criteria of the offer and you can save more.
  7. Book your flights in advance. You have more chances to get the cheapest possible seat when you book your tickets in advance, usually 21 days or more.
  8. Avoid eating out at expensive restaurants. Before you travel, find and read restaurant reviews to get recommendations on affordable places to eat and observations on specific dishes from real customers. Check out Yelp and Zagat for restaurant reviews.
  9. Pick up food at the grocery stores, not at the roadside (near the freeway) convenient stores. Buy water, snacks, fruits, sandwiches, and other foods that you can take with you on the go. They come in handy when you’re hungry.
  10. Bring refillable water bottles. While you are not allowed to bring your own water bottles through airport security, you can bring empty water bottles and fill them up at a fountain when you can get past the airport security.
  11. Look for cheap hotels. Smaller hotels or motels are less expensive than larger, more elegant hotels. Sleep cheap and save money.
  12. Avoid major events. Hotel costs are usually higher when there’s a major convention or trade show event taking place in the city where you’re visiting.
  13. Do laundry at a local dry cleaner. Instead of paying for pricey hotel laundry services, go to a local neighborhood dry cleaner and save.
  14. Look for cheap travel package deals. Consider vacation or business travel package deals for great savings. Airline companies often partner with hotels and car rental companies to offer you package deals. Call your travel agents or search on travel web sites for cheap package deals.
  15. Keep a guidebook handy in your pocket. A travel guide costs about $10-40, but its usefulness outweighs the cost. Travel guides provide information on tourist attractions, cost-saving restaurants and lodging, local customs and more. You’ll get inside scoops on hotel ratings, featured places to visit, things to do, and budget alternatives.
  16. Don’t buy insurance for your car rental. When renting a car, the agent usually advises you to buy car insurance. Don’t buy it just yet. Call your insurance agent or check the fine print of your policy to see if it covers you. If your policy doesn’t cover it, check with American Express, Visa or MasterCard as your credit card company may offer coverage if you pay your car rental with its credit card.
  17. Avoid flying into major airports. If you are traveling to a major metropolitan area, you can get a lower rate if you fly into a smaller, less popular airport at the neighboring city. Find out all of the nearest airports in your destination city and check for rates when using an alternate airport.
  18. Wait until the last minute to get a better deal. Occasionally, you can get lower rates buying tickets at the last minute. The airline works with load factors – a measure of how well the airline fills its seats. If the load factor is 70% full, there are still plenty of open seats available, and the tickets usually go sale.
    Sign up for last-minute travel newsletters to get alerts on travel deals.
  19. Call the travel agents. If you take the time to call your local agents, you may find great deals as travel agents can offer competitive rates through their connections with the airlines. Additionally, travel agents are willing to discount the rates to earn your repeat business, giving you more incentive to book hotels and cruises. You may find lower rates buying through a travel agent than online.
    And before you settle on a price, ask for discounts. Senior and students may qualify for special, reduced rates on certain routes.
  20. Sign up for alerts. American Airline offers discounts as much as 25% through its DealFinder alerts. Southwest Airlines offers daily “Ding” deals that you can sign up to receive alerts of the hot deals and special promos. Most of the hot deals expire on the same day you receive them so make sure to act quickly as soon as the deals become available.
  21. Use travel search engine like Kayak, which searches hundreds of other travel sites and display aggregated results of deals on airfares, hotels, hotel rooms, vacations and rental cars. Use Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity to find cheap flight tickets, cruises, and vacation packages.

In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to save money on travel. All it takes is careful planning, finding affordable alternatives, and budgeting your travel expenses so you can make the most out of your trip for less. Knowing how much you can spend on transportation, accommodation and eating out helps save your wallet, while making your trip more enjoyable. And before booking your airline tickets, hotels, car rentals or vacations, check out GotoDaily Travel Coupons for the latest coupons and savings on travel.

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