From a young age, my family always valued travel. It was a great opportunity to see beautiful places and experience the world. During my childhood our family of five always had a very tight budget, so we had to get creative when we traveled to find the perfect balance between value and creating our dream vacation. As an adult, I love travel even more than I did as a child, so I have found creative ways to travel on a budget.
Today’s economy has definitely provided some great opportunities for discount travel, but it has also forced many of us to look closely at our budgets to determine how much we can afford to spend on a vacation. The first step to planning any successful trip is to determine how much money you can afford to spend.
Here are some of my tips for saving money on travel.
- Determine your budget. Once you have determined your budget, you can determine if your dream location can be reached within your budget.
- Will you drive to your destination or will you fly? If you have a larger family, airfare can be a major expense. Most airlines charge full price for anyone over 2 years old. They now have also added additional fees like baggage fees, fees for snacks and fees for headphones.
If you decide to fly to your destination, here are a few tips to save you money on airfare.
- Watch for Deals – If you know where you want to travel to in advance, go to Travelocity.com and set up a Farewatch between your home airport and your destination city. Check today’s price on tickets, then Travelocity will email you when the price drops under a certain price or drops by $25. You can set the criteria and just wait for the best deals.
- Check your airline mileage balances. You may find that you have enough points accrued for a free airline ticket.
- Sign up for an e-mail newsletter for your favorite airlines. They often send out newsletters with current sales. Every time I travel a different airline I check if the points will transfer to my favorite mileage program. I also always sign up for the mileage plan if they do not partner with my main mileage program. I love the Southwest Airlines newsletter and the AlaskaAir newsletter, but most of your favorite airlines will offer an email newsletter with their best deals.
- Stack deals when booking travel. If you have a rewards debit or credit card, use it to book your flight. They not only will these cards provide reward points or cash back, but they often provide additional travel insurance free. Check with your credit card company to determine what additional travel insurance they provide. Certain rewards cards also offer promotional deals like extra miles to book through their site. AlaskaAir offers an extra 1,000 miles if you purchase with your AlaskaAir Visa card.
- Book travel through cash back rebate programs. Book your travel through a site like Ebates and ShopatHome. Both programs offers cash back on most on-line purchases, including many travel companies. Once you have found the best deal, log in to your Ebates or Shoptathome account and place the order through their site to earn cash back on all your travel.
- Always book your flights at least 21 days before your departure date. This will give you the best pricing. When you purchase your ticket less than 21 days before your departure date, prices will usually increase.
- Search for your airline tickets mid-week. Airlines will often start their sales on Monday nights.
- Pack light. This will save money on fees which can range from $35-$75 per check bag.
Catch up on my travel series, Saving Money on Travel.
- Saving Money on Travel – Getting Started
- Saving Money on Travel Past 1 -Staycation
- Saving Money on Travel Part 3 – Hotels
- Saving Money on Travel Part 4 – Attraction Tickets
- Saving Money on Travel Part 5 – Food
- Saving Money On Travel – Preparing a Travel Kit
Do you have any great tips for saving on airfare? Be sure that you leave a comment with your favorite tip.