I recently spent the weekend on a little vacation to spend some time with my family and wanted to share some tips that I use to save money!
The biggest money saving tip I have is to not travel alone! Roadtripping is usually cheaper than flying, and if you have multiple drivers, you can drive through the night without needed to stop at a hotel. When you do check into a hotel, splitting the costs multiple ways brings down your share, since the hotels charge by room, not by person! If you do fly, traveling with somebody will also bring down your costs in your destination because you won't have to pay as much for transport. You can share an Uber or a rental car and help cut your own costs.
Another super big tip is to entirely eliminate your lodging and local transport by traveling to places where you have friends or family. Being able to stay in your aunt's spare bedroom and having your grandma pick you up from the airport can save you hundreds of dollars, and will likely result in you getting free meals and activities.
Let's say neither of these options is viable. Maybe you don't have a travel buddy and you're not close to your family, or your family isn't close to your destination. There's still plenty of money saving options available!
When I'm booking a trip, I always look at multiple sites and don't usually have a set date range in mind. Being flexible lets you take advantage of cheaper flights and hotel costs. Just check this out: by being flexible on a potential flight to Hawaii, I could pay as
little as $665, compared to the maximum of $1,289. That's nearly a 50% savings, just from making the trip one day shorter! I also like to check out the hotel chain's website and compare to Expedia or Kayak, because sometimes, you can get a better deal or additional perks by booking directly through the website.
It's super important to check for discounts and coupon codes, as well as cash back opportunities when traveling. I like to check both Swagbucks and Rakuten for discounts. I have both extensions installed in Chrome, so they will automatically check, and I'll just choose whichever discount or cash back offer is better. Just for clicking a single link, I'm getting $11 back in my Swagbucks account for booking on Expedia.
Another option is to use cash back or travel credit cards. I have three different credit cards that offer either cash back or travel points: American Express (both), Discover (cash back), and a Southwest card through Chase (Southwest miles). These are good options if you're able to pay back the cost and won't increase your debt over the trip, and can be used in conjunction with Swagbucks and Rakuten to increase your cash back!
Don't forget about rewards programs! If you book through Expedia, travel on an airline, a train, or a bus, use a rental car or ride share, and you stay at a hotel chain, even if it's not your preferred company, sign up for their free rewards program! For most companies, the points or miles either don't expire or take a very long time to expire, so you won't lose them. If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you can really rack up free trips quickly, but even if it takes you 15 years to save up the points to take a vacation, that's still money you don't have to spend in the future. You can also get some bonus perks if you're a reward member, even if you're just on the bottom rung of the program.
My final tip is a very rare and valuable one. When I was traveling this past weekend, one of my flights was overbooked. Delta offered to put the person who was willing to fly out the next morning in a hotel for free, rebook their flight for free, and give them a $500 gift card. This is huge! If you're ever offered this opportunity, definitely consider it! You will have to do some quick thinking- will your hotel and/or rental car allow you to push back your reservations by a day without paying big fees or losing money? If so, take it! You'll still get to your destination, and you'll pocket a solid chunk of cash to boot. Unfortunately, I had to be somewhere at 10 am and the flight wasn't scheduled to land until 10:30, so I wasn't able to take advantage of this opportunity, but I very much wish I was.
I hope some of these tips can help you save money in your future travels! I'll be back next week with another update.
Until then, thanks for reading!