I’m going to shoot you straight. Traveling can be expensive! You have to account for accommodations, transportation, activities, food, etc. When you add it all up, it can get pretty pricey, but it doesn’t have to. There are simple tricks you can apply to any vacation to save money and optimize your spending. I’m sure you have heard of some of these tips, but I’ll give my take on the matter anyway. I’ve spent what feels like thousands of hours (probably pretty close) trying to get the best travel deals I can. It’s allowed me to travel more often and for much less than average.
Set a budget and stick to it.
Adjust your travel to fit your budget, not your budget to fit your travel. If you want to spend XX amount of dollars on this trip,then only spend XX amount of dollars. You might not get a first class ticket or stay at a 5-star resort, but you’ll save yourself the stress. The value of a stress free vacation is underrated and can add so much value to your experience. If you spend less on one thing, maybe upgrade something else. You’ve allotted a certain amount already so you won’t be putting yourself in a bind. Of course you can always save that money as well! Budgeting is a good way to see what you can and cannot deal without. That way you can adjust for the future.
Travel during off season.
You’ll be amazed at how much cheaper things are during the off season. Sometimes things are discounted more than 50%! Also, your experience is often better because you aren’t fighting the crowds. You’ll be able to see everything you want to see without paying a ridiculous amount and shuffling through the masses. Things/events happen at different times of the year. If you have a particular experience you want to be a apart of, then this can get tricky! Look up your destination and see what options you have.
I would never recommend traveling on the holidays. I know sometimes that is the only possible solution due to work and such, but avoid it if at all possible. Airlines and hotels mark their prices significantly higher over the holidays. High demand equals high prices. I don’t even recommend traveling near holidays. Prices can spike just before and just after major holidays, so make sure to keep your distance!
This can be difficult. Trying to be flexible can pose problems especially if you’re planning around work. However, being flexible can often save you the most money. You’ll find that sometimes traveling a week before or after your planned dates can be cheaper. I usually just pick the month I want to travel and shop around to see what combinations offer the cheapest rates. One thing to check into is special events happening at your destination (sporting events, concerts, etc.) that might raise the prices.
Fly on weekdays.
Weekends are peak travel times. Don’t fly on the weekends. Like ever. Prime time to fly is Monday-Wednesday. These will often be the best prices and you probably won’t have a full flight. Airlines purposely jack up weekend prices because of the high demand. Aim for mid-week travel days and you’ll be surprised how much you can save!
Always, always ALWAYS compare prices. Please don’t book the first deal you see. There are plenty more to be found, you just have to find them. If one hotel is having a sale, it is likely that other hotels in the same area are as well. Use sites like skyscanner, hopper, agoda, etc. to help you find the best prices. Research is your friend. Please utilize your resources before a final decision.
It can greatly benefit to pick up the phone and talk to someone. Sometimes companies have discounts that they don’t advertise online. Military, student, ADA, Etc. There’s probably a discount out there for you, just ask. If you call a representative, they can often help get you the best deal.
Use rewards programs.
Don’t freak out. They really can be beneficial. You’re already spending money, you might as well get some perks! If you have preferred hotel chains or airlines, sign up for their rewards program. Its free and takes like two minutes. You can get some really awesome perks from loyalty programs, especially if you use brands who partner together (Marriott/United or Hyatt/American).
Plan out your itinerary.
Plan it down to what you’re going to eat. This way you know exactly what you’re going to spend. It’s a guideline to help you adjust and see where you might could save (or spend) a little more. Also, you know what to be prepared for before you go!
Knowing the little tricks to game the system can be the biggest weapon when planning a trip. I’m going to be honest, it’s a little bit of work to get a good deal. You have to do some research. These deals don’t just fall into your lap. If you put in a little effort, it will certainly pay off in the long run. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t get frustrated. You get better at finding deals with every trip. Plus, I’m always here for questions or suggestions! Just shoot me and email or leave a comment!