Traveling is such a wonderful way to see the world, destress and spend time with your family. It is a way to leave your troubles at home and find your peace. However, it can be so expensive that the cost associated with being the carefree version of yourself begins to be a stressor! Never bother with that! After traveling for many years and seeking out the best ways to save I would like to share with you all my tips to spend less so you can travel more!
We all have bills to pay! It is life. It is inevitable. However, you can make those dollars count towards your travel dollars. One way that I do this is with the help of the Southwest credit card from Chase. Just from using the card to pay your everyday expenses you can earn valuable airline points. If you are a new customer and spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months you can earn 50,000 points! My husband and I did this and both went roundtrip from Houston to New York and then did another trip from Houston to Orlando and spent less that $120 total! Those airline costs could have easily added up to over $1200!
Also, note that the prices for flights in airline points will fluctuate just as must as it does if you are paying in dollars. If at all possible do not just book the first flight you see when looking to use your points. Wait for a good rate and those points will stretch further. It helps to pick an airline and be faithful to them when at all possible to build up maximum points. If you split your points between airlines it will take longer to earn a flight. Which takes me to my next topic…
In the quest to spend less so you can travel more good things often come to those who wait, and look, and wake up in the middle of the night to check for tickets. When planning a trip I have found that making your reservation on Tuesday and Wednesdays often offer much better rates. I will even set my alarm for midnight on Tuesday night and check flights. This obsession has earned me tickets from Houston to Colorado for $70 each way, which usually average $140. I have found that if my trip is 6-8 weeks away I will often get the best deals. Also, check the policy for your airline. For example with Southwest Airlines if your flight goes down in price you can rebook your reservation and get a credit for the difference to use towards another flight within a year of your original booking date!
Depending on where your travels are taking you see if you have other options. If you are flying into Orange County California not only could you fly directly into the local airport but within a short drive you could also have three other options. These options can possibly save you hundreds of dollars albeit for smaller towns there may not be another airport in close proximity.
Need a Rental Car?
If your travels require a rental car know that these rates fluctuate as well based on the day you book, the rental location and the coupon code you use.
If you reserve your rental car in advance make sure that you go back to reservations from time to time to check the current rate. I have saved $100’s on a single trip multiple times just by checking and rebooking. Just make sure at the initial booking that there are no penalties for changing your reservation at a later day. These policies change based on companies.
The rental location prices can vary greatly similar to airline rates. Last year after researching a trip to Northern California I found the price difference between renting a car in San Francisco versus renting one in San Jose was going to be almost $200 more at that time. This helped me decide that it was worth flying into San Jose and taking a nice little drive to San Francisco instead. That savings could better be used towards a hotel!
We can’t all be extreme couponers but we can easily find coupon codes online for rental cars. I use Avis when possible and there are always many options for coupons via sites such as Groupon‘s coupon section, Retail Me Not as well as the company’s own site. Also if you subscribe to services such as AAA or the Entertainment book you can obtain coupons. When booking exhaust all avenues. Type in your dates and pickup location and then try all the coupon codes that you can find. I have gotten my car down from over $500 for the week to just over $200 just by typing in coupon codes. Not a bad savings for less than ten minutes of your time!
Now for the Room
You flew into town. You saved money on your flight and then got a great deal on your rental car. Now for the room! One common thread you will see with my recommendations is to be loyal to a company. This advice also holds true to hotels as well. Become part of their rewards programs and it can pay off! If I am in a city with a Hyatt that is my brand of choice. Being a part of their rewards program has earned me free rooms in gorgeous hotels many times over. This is a great perk for being loyal. Also if the hotel is not full the front desk will often upgrade member’s rooms without even being asked.
I personally find that I save more when booking directly through the hotel website versus sites such as Travelocity, Hotwire and Priceline. Also just like the flights and the rental car, hotel rates fluctuate. Once I have set up my reservations I will go back in once a week to see if there have been any changes to the rates. Last week I saved $100 for an upcoming trip to New York City. Just go back in and modify your reservation to take advantage of the savings. A quick call to the hotel reservation number will do the trick as well!
I hope you can utilize my tips to spend less so you can travel more on your next trip! If you have any tips for saving more on your travel expenses I would love to hear about them!