Planning a vacation or business trip on a budget? Saving money on travel is easier than you might think. Read on for ways to cut costs before heading out of town so that you can plan your travels without breaking the bank.
Bundling for Discounts
To get started, pay a visit to a travel booking site like Priceline. This is a great choice for finding discount flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more. You can even bundle airfare, hotels, and rental cars together for extra savings.
Another way to save is to check online for coupons and discount codes for all your booking needs. Do this before you book your flights, car rentals, and/or accommodations with Priceline, and see the savings pile up. This is one of my favorite ways to plan for travel on a budget.
Save on Airfare
Don’t wait until the last minute to buy airline tickets. Instead, start monitoring fares early and be ready to buy when the price falls. Last-minute bargains are rare in the airline industry, in part because many people booking at the last minute are willing to pay a premium for travel on short notice.
If your schedule is flexible, you can also save on airfare by traveling at less popular times. Prices tend to be lowest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; however, no matter what day you fly, overnight red-eye flights are usually cheaper than more conveniently scheduled flights.
Have some extra time and want to take things slowly? Bargain long-distance bus lines are increasingly popular, and they often offer surprisingly good fares.
Lodging That Doesn’t Break the Bank
Travelers have more places to park their bags than ever before, thanks to short-term rental sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo. But are these rentals really cheaper than traditional hotels? It depends; every city is different, and which lodgings are cheapest varies from place to place. To find the lowest prices, do your research and get quotes for both types of accommodations.
Also, consider other factors that may make one option a better deal than the other. If you’ve already accumulated substantial hotel rewards points, for example, a hotel might be cheapest, and you might even get a luxury upgrade in the process. You may also get a mini-fridge and microwave in your room, which means you can bring your own flatware and plates/bowls for eating takeout leftovers. On the other hand, short-term rentals often include kitchens and cookware, so if you like to cook, the right rental can save you quite a bit over the cost of eating out for every meal.
Want to lower expenses further and make new friends in the process? Couchsurfing can connect you with locals willing to let you sleep on their couch—or in their spare bedroom—for free. Just be sure to put safety first when searching for free crash space.
For rental cars, as with airlines, early planning is often best. By not only booking early but also paying for your car upfront, you can potentially reduce your rental charge by a third or more. Many rental companies offer additional discounts through organizations such as the American Automobile Association (AAA), as well as through workplace employee discount programs, various professional organizations, and some credit cards.
If you’re willing to call for a ride to get to your rental, consider leaving the airport entirely to pick up your rental at another location. Off-site car rentals are usually significantly cheaper than on-site airport rentals. Of course, booking a taxi, Lyft, or Uber can also be expensive, so make sure the cost of getting to the rental site doesn’t cancel out any off-site savings.
Planning a trip doesn’t have to mean pulling from your savings. With a bit of advance planning and help from some discount travel sites, you can cut your travel costs significantly—and leave more money in your pocket for enjoying your destination once you arrive.
With these ways to plan travel without breaking the bank, you will also increase your ‘Vitamin T’. It’s a win-win!