Travel is something people aspire to do more often but feel they can’t because it’s too expensive, but that’s a huge myth. We’re here to stop you from falling into the trap of overspending on travel and allowing you to travel more frequently without breaking your wallet — this goes for domestic and international.
Flexibility will be your saving grace when booking travel. You can save so much money by just considering alternate dates (this could even mean one day prior) or alternate airports.
When planning your travels, be flexible or even spontaneous. Be flexible with your dates. Google Flights is my favorite search tool because it allows you to see a full calendar view of pricing, so you can determine when to go to that next place on your bucket list.
If you happen to be looking at Paris on Google Flights, but the pricing is a little more than you were hoping to spend for a specified time frame, you can check out their map which reflects pricing to other destinations from your starting airport. Is it cheaper to fly into Copenhagen and then hop over? If so, do it that way. You can find a cheap flight as little at 8 Euro on a inter-European budget airline. Be flexible with your destination. If you have a bucket list, keep in mind you don’t have to go to the places in order.
Consider Other Airports
This can be another airport near you, or not so near you. I recently booked a trip to Argentina. Tickets are typically around $1300 and up from NY (and most cities in the U.S.), but when I found a ticket to Argentina from Boston for $340, I grabbed it immediately. Despite having to take a train or flight to Boston – that’s only putting me out another $50 – I’m still saving at least $1,000 on that flight, which gives me more to spend while actually on the trip.
Research, research, research.
A friend of mine was groaning about a multi-city trip she booked to Europe for $1800. I gasped at the price tag, and looked up her same exact itinerary myself, and was able to find all of it for $470. Yes, you read that right. Needless to say, since she was in the 24-hour grace period, she cancelled all of her flights and re-booked.
My number one tip when searching flights, use incognito windows, especially when looking at the same route repeatedly. When you are constantly looking at a flight, the airline bumps it up. Using incognito windows will ensure your cookies don’t sell out on you.
Sign up for Newsletters
As if you need another newsletter clogging your inbox. But before you skip over this paragraph, travel newsletters can be so helpful. Sign up for CN Traveler, AFAR, Travel & Leisure and others for travel tips, but also price decrease alerts. Groupon Getaways, Travelzoo, and Living Social deals are like the Costco of online travel booking. Each week they send out the top travel deals, and if you don’t like planning things yourself, a lot of these packages come with airfare, accommodations and tours for great prices.
Use Flight Apps
Apps like Skyscanner and TravelPirates are golden. TravelPirates can quickly fuel your travel addiction with notifications of airline price errors, lowered Airbnb costs and more. You can get anything from $450 round-trip flights to Japan to a discounted stay at a cute little abode in Joshua Tree. The prices are usually for travel from that week to about four months out.
Layovers can sound like such a bore, but if you do it right, layovers will save you money and give you the chance to explore another city along the way. Some airports even have layover programs where they’ll take you on a tour of their city. Lisbon airport’s stopover program offers up to three-day long layovers and discounted hotel rates. Icelandair offers cheap rates to Europe with a free layover up to seven days in Iceland – which is definitely worth the stopover. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Panama City, Shanghai, Helsinki and Bangkok are other cities with great stopover programs. You can also book your own layovers, and explore on your own. Just ensure you have enough time to leave the airport, determine how far the airport is from the actual city, have a plan of action and go forth in exploring.
If you prefer hotels, take a look at deals on third party sites like booking.com, but then call the hotel directly. Let them know of the rates you found, and see if you can negotiate for a better deal by booking through them. They may even throw in an upgraded room or free breakfast.
Hotel Tonight is a great app for last-minute deals on luxury hotels. You can book the day of or up to seven days in advance on five-star hotels at a major discount because they’re filling rooms that haven’t sold. Sometimes being a procrastinator is a good thing.
Avoid traveling to a destination during their high-season at all costs. Not only will you not have to battle crowds of tourists, but you’ll get better deals on hotels, flights, and experiences. If traveling during a low season, ensure the weather in your destination during low season will allow you to experience the place as you’d like. Otherwise, consider “shoulder season” which is right before or after the hoards of tourists flock in. You can get really lucky and have private tours for the cost of a group tour just because it’s not a busy time.
Points can cover an entire trip for free. Sign up for a travel credit card with a point bonus. For instance, with Chase Sapphire Preferred you get 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first three months. Instead of spending frivolously to reach your goal, put all of your expenses on this card (and don’t forget to pay it in full every month). You can pay your rent via credit card with apps like RadPad, and they send a check to you or your landlord.
Always sign up for airline miles. Even if you think you’ll never fly a specific airline again, a lot of airlines will accept points from other airlines.
Sites like points.com allow you to manage all of your loyalty programs in one spot and combine points from various airlines.
Save on luggage fees and the heartache of your luggage not arriving at your destination with you. Pack efficiently, roll your clothes, and wash clothes at your destination. This also leaves more room for bringing back souvenirs.
Pack your own lunch. Airplane food is gross, so avoid spending cash on mediocre food. Make your own sandwich or salad, and bring apples and other healthy snacks that will last for the plane ride. Sakara Life has delicious healthy snacks perfect for traveling including their watermelon jerky, superfood popcorns and coconut detox tea macaroons.
If your flight isn’t full, don’t pay for a seat. Ask nicely at check-in for your seat preference, and most likely they’ll accommodate your request at no cost.
Written by Danika Daly
Feature image by Unsplash.