What are your favorite tricks you use when you’re interested in saving money on travel? There are many ways to travel affordably if you know how and where to look.
Do Your Cheap Travel Homework
There are a variety of pricing trends in the travel industry and it’s impossible to keep up with them all. The best thing you can do is to aggressively compare offers for cheap flights, hotel discounts, and rental car deals.
This is even true when looking at more luxury travel such as private jet travel. For example, when comparing fractional jet ownership cost against full ownership you can see that considerable savings can be made as fractional ownership is more cost-effective than full ownership.
When you look at third-party travel sites such as CheapFlights.com, Travelocity, or any other discount travel site, you might be surprised to learn that some deals on rental cars, flights, and hotel stays come directly from the hotel or airline itself.
That is not always true, but it’s often the case and those who rely exclusively on third party sites should try comparing the prices they find with those offered by the specific airline, hotel, or rental agency.
Choose Your Travel Times Wisely
There are two ways to select travel times to save money, especially on airfares. One is to select a generally off-peak season to take your trip. Book a hotel, rental car, or cheap flight during the tourist season means you will pay more to travel when everybody else does.
But what if you choose to go on vacation in the middle of January instead? All the holiday travel is over, theairlines and hotel industry is recovering from the December/New Year’s Eve events, and prices may be generally lower than you might think for cars, planes, boats, and trains.
The other off-peak travel discount you can take is to fly or rent a vehicle on days of the week not considered prime commuting time for business people. Travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday and airfares may be lower, car rentals may be more available, and your experience traveling will be more pleasant and less crowded (ideally).
A USA Today’s article on the subject from 2017 indicates that you can, depending on the airline and available travel promotions at the time of booking, could save as much as a third off your airfare for traveling on the right days of the week.
Sign Up For All Travel-Related Rewards Programs
Even if you don’t plan on traveling again in the near future, frequent flyer miles, preferred renter status at the rental counter, and hotel rewards club perks may be yours for the asking and often these benefits cross retailer lines to provide cheap travel or accommodations from member partners or affiliated businesses that recognize your frequent traveler program.
Get A TSA Pre-Check Pass
For $85 you can get five years of expedited, faster security screenings via the TSA Pre-Check program. This government program allows you to speed through the screening process with no shoe removal (a huge bonus for some travelers), no belt or jacket removal, etc.
At first glance this does not look like a perk or benefit that can help you travel more cheaply, but consider the cost of arriving late (often through no fault of your own) to the airport only to miss your flight because you couldn’t clear security in time?
The $85 you spend today could save you on having to purchase another ticket somewhere down the line–the extra hassle of going through security hardly seems worth it in the first place for some who do the math on a five-year, $85 price tag; those who travel frequently enough will recognize that spending $17 a year for a faster check-in is a true benefit.
Joe Wallace specializes in personal finance, military affairs, and consumer protection topics. Since 1995, his work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and collects unusual vinyl records, which gives him an excuse to write the vinyl blog Turntabling.net.