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Wouldn’t a vacation be great, especially when we’re stuck in the middle of this dreadfully cold winter? We daydream at our job about being somewhere we really want to be, but the reality of the cost of going away sinks in and we’re back to our grind.
What if I can give you 8 ways to travel cheaply?
1. Clear your Cache
The first thing you should do when looking online for travel prices is to clear your computer’s cache memory. This includes clearing the cookies and search history from your browser.
The reason for doing this is because airlines and booking sites have a sneaky way of checking if you’ve searched there before, and if you have – they can raise the prices. It’s called “dynamic pricing” and they’ll raise the prices based on “demand”. Tricky eh?
So, to get the actual lowest prices on these sites, clear your cookies before you start browsing.
2. It’s All About The Timing
Employing the right timing strategy can get you some great discounts in travel prices.
The right time to book an airline trip is 42 days before your trip and on Tuesdays at 3p.m. Eastern time. This isn’t a surefire way to save, but it is a trend happening across airlines. You might just catch a deal then.
The cheapest day to fly out is on Wednesdays. Airlines raise prices to demand and we know its pretty common to fly on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays because of our work weeks. But if at all possible, fly out on Wednesdays.
The cheapest time to fly is early mornings. Grab the first flight of the morning out. Sure, it’ll mean having to arrive at the airport really early, but sometimes it can save you about $100 or more.
Be flexible in your booking dates. Add 2 or 3 days before and after your departure dates can save you money as well. For example, booking a flight from L.A. to New York costs about $228, but if I check their flexibility calendar I find that I can fly 2 days earlier for only $152, a $76 savings.
Another possible place for saving on flights is to book at an alternate airport instead of the more popular one. For example, the flight I mentioned earlier was from LAX to LaGuardia, if I booked the same route but flew out of Santa Ana Airport instead I can save $40.
Combining those two methods of saving money I could save $116 on one round-trip flight ticket.
3. Use Savings Apps & Websites
You can save money by using different Apps and websites, here are a few:
Hopper – Save up to 40% on flights
Fare Compare – Find unadvertised deals, promo codes and compare fares.
Trivago – Find the best hotel you want
Airfare Watchdog – Enter your nearest Airport and they’ll notify you on low airfares that crop up.
UpSide – Shows you the lowest gasoline places and savings on food, convenience stores and other places while you’re on a road trip.
I have used Trivago and Upside myself and with those two Apps together our family saved over $85 on a 4-day weekend road trip. Pretty good for a family of 4 (including 2 teenagers).
4. Stretch your Layover
I learned this trick from Calvin Young, from YouTube’s “Seek The World”. He’s a Deaf traveler who’s been traveling all across the world.
His trick for saving money on his adventures is booking a trip with a layover stop. He then requests the layover to be several days to several weeks.
This way he gets to travel around the layover country plus surrounding countries and then return for the next leg of his trip and travels around his designated site. He gets to experience several countries with only 1 round trip ticket purchased.
Another money saving tip for booking layover trips is to check if it’s cheaper to take a different airline mid-way. For example, booking a trip from New York to Hawaii on a direct flight costs $699, but if I stop in San Francisco ($211) and take a different airline to Hawaii ($415), I’ll save about $73 dollars.
5. Use a Credit Card with Travel Benefits
Many credit cards offer travel benefits as part of their package. Such as the Amazon Rewards Signature card, their benefits include: no foreign transaction fees, travel and emergency assistance, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, and travel accident insurance.
But, more specifically, there are credit cards aimed precisely at saving on travel. Such as:
Be sure to do your homework and compare interest rates and benefits that fit your needs better for the most savings gained.
6. Use Alternate Places to Stay
Instead of booking at hotels and motels, sometimes it’s a cheaper alternative to stay someplace a little more unconventional.
One such place that’s gaining popularity is Airbnb – the apartment and house rental listing site. How much can you save? Let’s check out rentals in Orlando, FL compared to same sized hotel rooms:
- On Airbnb there’s a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom place where you can have the entire apartment to yourself (living room and kitchen) for $69 a night.
- A “budget” hotel that has an outdoor pool and continental breakfast is $61 a night.
Sure, the apartment is more expensive, $483 for the week, but you’ll save over $400 from not having to eat out (lunches and dinners).
Choose to stay in a hostel instead of a hotel. If you’re traveling alone or as a couple, this may be an easier alternative. It’s a great way to save money especially if you “just need a room”.
For example, a hostel’s room in Paris is about $25 a night, while a hotel down the street can cost $125 a night. Big difference!
Surprisingly though, many hostels do have some more amenities than hotels can offer too. Some places work with local businesses for the best deals in dining and attractions.
If you’re on a long road trip and love camping, why not choose to stay in someone’s backyard instead of a hotel or expensive campground? Check out Airbnb again and other similar sites for backyard rentals (some already come with tents pitched already).
Volunteer your time and you can travel abroad for free (or cheaply) – some free flights, accommodations and almost everything else for only a small fee. Spend 4 weeks in China for $299, or 1 week in Bali for $250.
Another way to volunteer and travel for free is through WWOOF – an organization of organic farm hosts where you can earn your room and board for a day’s work. This would be a great learning experience and you can stay as little or as long as you want in your choice of 53 different countries.
If you time everything right, you can pretty much travel all over, see different countries and cultures, learn some new things, make new friends and still spend very little of your own money to do it.
8. Travel Rewards Cards
If you rather not use one of the credit cards mentioned earlier to gain travel rewards, there are still reward cards you can earn with.
Such cards as:
Hotel Reward Cards
Places such as Marriott, Motel 6, hotels.com, and other hotel chains offer a “free night’s stay” after a number of bookings made with them. Some as quickly as “stay 2 nights, get 3rd night free”, others as long as 10 bookings before the next one is free.
This would be great if you’re a frequent traveler for your employer, use your personal rewards card to rack up your own savings for your vacation.
Frequent Flyer cards
Again if you travel frequently for work, use your personal frequent flyer card to save for your free flight ticket. Almost every airline has their own card but the top three reward earners are:
- Alaska Airlines – not only can you earn points with them, but with 18 other airlines as well as from 10 different hotels.
- Delta Skymiles – This is a great program if you travel often to Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Seattle, and New York City. Their points are higher at these designations. If you travel through one of their participating airlines you’ll earn points towards those flights as well.
- JetBlue TrueBlue – This the 3rd top ranking earning card around and is best for those who travel frequently along the east coast as well as to the Caribbean. Not only do they have participating airlines and hotels to earn points at but also from car rental places, Amazon and 1800Flowers.
Get a fuel card to earn free gasoline for those summer road trips. Points can be earned by shopping for groceries, eating out, and online shopping. FuelRewards makes it possible to save up to 5¢ a gallon. Which is pretty good in helping with today’s gas prices.
I know the savings amount I mentioned don’t seem much, but using these different approaches altogether can add up to considerable savings for your trip.
It’s possible to rack up enough savings for an overseas air ticket, extend your layover a while, travel around and stay at hostels or in an Airbnb, or if you earned hotel points, a free night or two at a hotel.
Then catch your connection to your designation and volunteer at several organic farms in several countries a while, then fly back home. All this without putting a large dent on your savings account.
Some of the best memories are from experiences and not from materialistic things. Looking back in time, you will remember that European trip much more than that 60” television and the iPhone X.