Strategies for saving money when traveling
Travel can be expensive, but you can bring costs down by employing the following tips.
- Be flexible: If you have the option to travel off-season or to be flexible when choosing flights, you stand to save a considerable amount of money. It’s important to remember that peak season or peak travel days differ for business destinations versus vacation destinations.
- Make sure Basic Economy is right for you: Highly restrictive, bare bones basic economy fares do offer a certain level of savings to some travelers. However, if you want amenities such as luggage allowances, pre-assigned seating and the ability to make changes, purchasing a basic economy ticket may cost you more in the long run.
- Don’t overpack your bags: Make sure you are aware of your airline’s baggage size and weight limits. Airlines are much more diligent about enforcing their size and weight policies, and if you go over you may be faced with a large surcharge. It is also important to note that some airlines, especially overseas, have weight restrictions for carry-on items as well.
- Use the right credit cards: Many credit and debit cards include travel perks such as travel or car rental insurance coverage. Others come with points or miles accrual for discounted or free future travel. When traveling overseas, remember some payment cards can charge 3 to 5 percent on transaction fees. If you don’t own a foreign fee-free card, try to apply for one before you depart.
- Verify your phone coverage before leaving the country: Never assume your cell phone offers coverage abroad and at the same rates. For more affordable calling abroad, you may need to purchase a special limited-time international plan or obtain a local number SIM card for the country you are visiting. Often these SIM cards can be ordered in advance.
- Avoid exchanging currency at the airport: Bureaus of exchange located at the airport typically have some of the highest fees for converting currency. If possible wait until you leave the airport. Using an ATM to obtain currency may also be a cheaper option, but be sure to verify the costs with your bank before you depart.
- Book a hotel room with a refrigerator/microwave or small kitchen area. Even if don’t cook meals, these conveniences can save you money by allowing you to store cold beverages, items for a light breakfast, lunch or snack. Plus, restaurant leftovers can be stored and reheated for a future meal.
- Avoid eating in touristy areas: The restaurants in any tourist district are almost always more expensive. Worse they may not even deliver the best dining experience. Try restaurants off the beaten path for a more authentic meal, which more than likely will cost you less. There are a variety of apps such as Local Eats, ChefsFeed, Foodspotting or Happy Cow that can help you find local gems.
- Understand toll road needs: With so many roads across the country using automated tolling systems, many car rental companies offer the use of a toll transponder during your rental, for a fee. These fees can quickly add up and be a waste if you are not actually encountering any automated toll roads. However, failure to rent a transponder can cost you money too as many toll roads charge more to use a manual toll collection lane (assuming there is one), and failure to pay a toll can lead to significant surcharges and fines from the car rental company after the fact.
- Return your rental car with a full tank: When you sign your car rental agreement you usually are confirming that you will return the vehicle full of gas. Failure to do so can lead to hefty surcharges.