If someone asked, I wouldn’t say that I love to travel, but as I get older, I’m finding myself doing more and more traveling. This weekend was a girls trip to Vegas. (For kayaking and running, not for drinking and gambling. ) One of the joys of being single, I suppose. I can just jet off to places unknown for a long weekend without too much trouble.
Well, except for paying for that travel, of course.
There are lots of easy ways to save money on travel without having to make huge sacrifices.
Easy Ways to Save on Travel
Now, if you do a search, you will probably find some people who cut travel costs by perfectly balancing rewards and loyalty points and buying at the exact perfect time and keeping a flexible travel schedule.
If you have the time for that, it’s an awesome way to save money. But I am not one of those people who has the time or the patience to go through all of those steps. I like simple and easy. I like to save money on travel for dates that I want to travel. I don’t often have hugely flexible travel dates. And I am pretty picky about my flights. Sure, I could save money by flying at odd times, but I don’t want to. Depending on how far I’m flying, I also like to fly non-stop. Of course, that’s not always a reasonable option, but it’s something I definitely will spend the money on if it’s reasonably priced.
Saving on Flights
For domestic travel, my first stop when buying plane tickets is always Southwest Airlines. Why? Because of their change policies. If I buy a ticket and later I discover that it’s now on sale for even a few dollars cheaper, I can rebook for free and get that money back in credit for a future flight. If I have to change the dates of my flights or cancel the tickets all together, I can do that with no penalty. The money just turns into credit for a future flight. Of course, the credits have to be used within a certain time (you have to buy a new ticket within a year of the first purchase), but that’s never been a problem for me. It’s nice to have the flexibility.
Southwest also has a miles program that is actually easy to use! And you can earn miles by shopping through a portal on their site. I don’t use this option – I choose to use Ebates as my shopping portal, but many of my friends do it and have racked up a number of free flights. There is also a rewards credit card, but it has an annual fee, so it’s not worth it to me.
Saving on Hotels
For hotel stays, I hunt around for the best prices, but I also make a point of always signing up for the rewards program with the hotel chain. I don’t necessarily stay brand loyal when I travel (I’m also looking at price and location), but I’ve found that those hotel rewards points do start to add up. I also have a AAA card and make sure to check for AAA discounts.
As I have discussed before, I use a Disney Rewards credit card, so that helps me save money towards trips to Disney World, a place I like to visit, especially when holiday decorations are out. Looking into rewards cards can be worth it if they don’t have an annual fee (or if the rewards you receive outweigh the fee). There are a number of airline and hotel-related rewards cards. It’s just about what finding works best for you.
So those are the easy ways that I save money on travel. Nothing too difficult, but it’s definitely led to more of my money staying in my wallet.
How do you save on travel?
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.