ATTENTION: I recently dropped the super exciting news that I’ve partnered with an amazing global travel brand, The Runaway Experience, to host my first ever Live Richer Retreat next year…in the beautiful North African country of Morocco!!
Yes, little ole me...
And guess what? It sold out in one week! I couldn’t believe it!
The pressure is really ON to deliver an amazing experience to those able to join me. 🙂
But some of you expressed regret at not being able to attend due to trip cost.
I understand and will be cooking something else up in the United States so that Dream Catchers can unite in the future! * wink*
In the meantime, I did promise that I would deliver some valuable info to you on how you can save on planning a dream trip of your own.
So here it is!
I’m ready to take you on a little trip right now; down the road to major savings as you go about planning your well-deserved, future “best vacation ever”!
I’m super excited to share with you five ways to save big on travel – from start to finish!
Travel Tip #1: We need gas money (travel fund)!
Ok, so you and I aren’t going ANYWHERE without setting aside some money to pay for this great adventure.
I mean, I’m good…but I’m not that good, lol!
My very first recommendation is to go ahead and set up a “travel fund” account to begin setting aside a little bit of money here and there.
Pro tip: Do this whether you already have a future trip locked down or not.
Why? Because what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t get to go “where you wanted/when you wanted”?
Worst-case scenario will literally be that you have money saved that you can move over to your emergency fund, or use for something else if necessary, because – life happens. A win-win!
Now I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but for me…manually transferring money from my paycheck into a savings account can be pretty darn painful. It hurts, lol!
Believe it or not, there’s actually a fun, easy way to squirrel money away these days - and it involves taking full advantage of the power of automation!
Yes! There are programs that have the impressive ability to continuously analyze your bill paying and spending habits FOR you, and then automatically transfer small amounts of that money (that you can spare) into a savings account in such a way that…you’ll barely notice it’s gone.
Seriously, it’s magical!
My favorite tool to do just that is called Digit.
Digit is an automated savings tool that has helped every day folks - like you and me - save more than $1 billion dollars collectively…with zero pain, stress, or deep thought!!! Yes!!!
I break it all down for you right here in this blog post!
Travel Tip #2: Time to get out and stretch (show flexibility)!
Now that we’ve got the money train going, it’s time to figure out where you’re going and how you can keep as much money in your pocket as possible getting there.
Here’s where it pays to: do your research, have patience, and…be as flexible as you can.
We’re talking, “downward dog and all those other fancy yoga poses I see people contorting themselves into” flexible.
Here are the areas that I want you to be willing to show off your limber moves for - unless you have a very, very good reason to travel on dates that are exact and non-negotiable (i.e. attending a specific event, limited date windows to take time off, etc.):
Use sites like airfarewatchdog to track flights to your dream destinations. A FREE fare watcher will help keep you hip to the best deals at the lowest price.
And just so you know: Generally, the cheapest day to travel is Wednesday, followed by Tuesday and Saturday. You’ll notice that the earliest flight of the day is going to be the cheapest. After that, right before or during lunch or dinner, will save you a few bucks!
Found the deal you’ve been waiting for and ready to buy your ticket? Analytics show that if you’re traveling domestically…purchase it on Tuesday. It’s the best day of the week to ensure that you are getting your ticket at the very best price available.
Sounds like Tuesday is finally getting the credit it always deserved, huh?:)
There are lots of options available for lodging these days aside from traditional hotel chains.
Where you stay is a matter of personal taste and preference, but it’s helpful to keep an open mind and not just limit yourself to the most expensive hotel on the island or a “tiny in size, but large in expense” hotel room in the heart of an expensive city, as your only options.
- Do you have friends or family that live somewhere you want to visit? Maybe you can stay there and repay them with a nice gift, or by grocery shopping and making meals for the resident crew while you crash at their abode.
- Another travel hack that can save TONS of money (particularly if you have a large group) is to search home rental sites like HomeAway or Innclusive. Whereas a traditional hotel room might be $150 - $200/night with a maximum of two people in a room, you can just as easily find an entire or partial home rental in that same destination location that holds 6 people (for example) for the same total cost per night of $200! Major savings! That’s $200/6 people instead of divided by only 2 people – a savings of $70 per night!
Now if you just can’t tear yourself away from traditional hotels, no worries. I have a tip for you too!
Booking your hotel online is cheaper than calling a hotel by phone to reserve the same room.
Check the specific hotel website first to see what specials they are running.
Don’t forget about savings categories like AAA member room discounts or senior citizen discounts!
There are also plenty of sites that you are probably familiar with (think Travelocity, Expedia, Hotels.com) to sort and filter tons of hotels by price, rating, and a long list of other valuable categories.
*Bonus Mention: Travel agents/Vacation Packages Sites
So I always like to start by “doing the work” myself: researching average flight/hotel costs for the destination I have in mind, finding out the best time(s) of the year to go there, learning what there is to do and how expensive it is going to be to do it, and that kind of thing.
Butttt…don’t be afraid to reach out to a travel agent or check vacation package sites (like Groupon Getaways, for example) to see if there is a better price available when packaged together by a professional agent or service. If the price is better, by all means – let them book it for you. They may even sweeten the deal with money savers like spa credits or excursion discounts!
Travel Tip #3: Avoid dealership sticker-price shock (use travel savings tools)
Credit card rewards
Use your credit card rewards to grab travel discounts.
If you happen to be in the market for a new credit card, many card issuers will offer you thousands of travel miles just for signing up that will contribute to free flights down the road. Woot woot!
If you already have the credit card account(s) you need, login to your current accounts and check out any existing rewards offers for booking travel using your card. Many credit card companies have discount partnerships with hotels or airlines that you can take advantage of.
Also, make sure that you’re actually signed up for the rewards program on each of your current cards too. Some credit card companies won’t automatically sign you up for their rewards programs unless you specifically request it.
If you are traveling internationally, exchange your money at your bank before you leave to get the best rates.
Before traveling overseas, contact your bank about exchanging your U.S. dollar for foreign currency.
Many banks will order money for you for a much better rate (and with lower fees) than what you’ll get at the airport.
Note: The more exotic your location, the more time you’ll need to give your bank to order your money.
Avoid exchanging money at the airport at all costs!
Become a member
Before booking a flight/hotel or renting a car, make sure you’re a rewards member of each company whose services you choose to use, and whip your member number out to earn points.
So many people believe that they don’t travel enough to warrant signing up, but guess what? It’s free and you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t. And we don’t do that!
The mother of all savings tools is Ebates!!!
Ebates is a Budgetnista-approved tool to get cash back on everyday purchases you make online. When it comes to travel, Ebates has hooked me up with major savings!
Here are just a few of the companies that have cash back deals with Ebates from time to time: Marriott, Hilton, Groupon Getaways, Enterprise Rental Car, Expedia, Hawaiian Airlines, and the list goes on and on.
Ebates is 100% FREE to use; learn all about it here!
Travel Tip #4: How to re-fuel (eat smart)!
Slightly ashamed to admit it, but one of the biggest expenses when traveling is ummm…eating.
Hey, a girl’s gotta eat, right? Let’s just be smart about it.
Here are some great ways to keep eating expenses from ruining your waistline…and your wallet!
Pack easy to transport snacks for your trip and save on munching while away.
Having something easy to nibble on, like trail mix or fruit snacks, is a great way to help you avoid unnecessary food purchases in between meals while traveling.
Hotel with free breakfast
If you go the traditional hotel route, try to book somewhere that has “free” breakfast included in the cost of your stay. That way, you can wake up, grab breakfast (without opening your wallet), and start your day.
Lodging that has a kitchenette/kitchen
If you book a home rental or something similar, take advantage of the provided kitchenette/kitchen. Just having a simple breakfast at your rental every day before you hit the road to explore, can save you significant cash.
Lunch as your big meal
I absolutely encourage you to get a taste of the local cuisine in the city/town you are visiting. Yum! It’s one of the best parts of visiting somewhere new. Cultural immersion, if you will!
You can save lots of money by choosing to make lunch your biggest/best meal of the day. Meal costs tend to skyrocket at dinnertime. No bueno!
Travel Tip #5: GPS your best route (save on activities)!
Tour with locals
As you’re planning your trip itinerary, use your favorite web search engine to type in “free city tours in___” or “free things to do in____”. You can easily find free walking tours and other popular free things to see and do where you are visiting.
Every European country I’ve been to has had a “free” city walking tour available. In all cases, my tour guides were funny, informative and gave great recommendations on local restaurants and bars.
Tour guides aren’t paid for these services and just ask that if you enjoyed yourself on the tour to tip whatever you like, but even if you tip $10-$20…you are still getting a great bargain on a tour.
Find Groupon deals
Use Groupon to search for great deals on things to do while you are on vacation.
Just go to the website and type in the city/town you are going to be visiting.
Boom! You will see deeply discounted options on everything from amusement parks to popular tourist attractions to food!
I was able to snag a whale-watching excursion in San Diego for 50% off - using this method alone.
Shop local markets
When traveling internationally, local markets have great low-cost souvenir options like coffee, sweets and treats.
These low-cost souvenirs will give your family and friends a “taste” of your vacation and cost less than traditional keepsakes.
If you’re traveling domestically, DO NOT SLEEP on the local Walmart in the area. If you are going somewhere like Disney in Orlando, Florida - stop there when you arrive and pick up Disney shirts, hats, ears, autograph books, and anything else you need to be voted the best mouse at the park. You can also grab snacks and bottled water for your room.
When your trip is over and you’re ready to depart, swing back through and pick up your memorabilia gift souvenirs …for dirt cheap!!
Warning: Whatever you do, DO NOT spend tons of money in hotel gifts shops or airport stores on quickly forgotten gift souvenirs!
Ready, set, go
So now that you have your travel planning roadmap and are ready to roll…get going!
I can’t stress enough how important self-care is.
Taking time out to relax, recharge, and refuel, is a big part of that.