Travel costs, including flights, hotels, and tours, can increase quickly. But there are ways to cut those costs and still have a great vacation experience.
Experts recommend budgeting, finding flight deals, and using rewards credit cards. They also suggest automating your savings by setting up payroll direct deposit or a high-yield savings account and dedicating it to your vacation fund.
Look for last-minute deals
When it comes to traveling, there are a lot of expenses that come up along the way. The costs can add up quickly, from airfare and hotels to food, souvenirs, and other fun splurges. But you can save on your next trip by looking for deals and minimizing unnecessary spending.
Planning and remaining flexible with your dates is essential to get the best travel prices. For example, according to Expedia data, the sweet spot for snagging airfare is 28 to 35 days in advance. Plus, if you’re using miles or credit card points to book a flight, it pays to check cash prices every 23 hours and be open to changing your plans if fares drop.
You can also find great last-minute deals by buying vacation packages. Airlines and online travel agencies often offer these bundles, which include hotel and airfare, at a discount. You can look for these packages on Expedia via airline websites and other travel agencies. Sometimes, these bundles cost less than purchasing airfare and a hotel separately.
Buy a vacation package
If you’re a frequent traveler, you know that hotel loyalty programs offer perks like complimentary breakfast and room upgrades for repeat guests. But you might not realize those benefits don’t extend to stays booked through third parties. That’s especially true of vacation packages, which often combine airfare and hotels for cheaper prices than you could find booking the flights and hotels separately.
Online travel agencies are known for selling these bundled deals, and some airlines have their own branded ones. But you can also look for them at daily deal sites and all-inclusive resorts that offer the convenience of paying just once for your entire trip.
When reviewing these package prices, check for additional fees like resort and optional airline baggage fees that might push up the per-person price estimate. And, of course, don’t forget to use your credit cards’ shopping portals, which can earn you extra points and miles on top of your regular rewards. These strategies can help you maximize your loyalty balance, amplify your credit card perks, and cut the cost of a relaxing getaway.
Don’t be afraid to cancel your flight
Simple hacks can help you get more bang for your travel bucks. These expert tips and strategies can save you thousands on airfare, accommodations, and more.
One way to save is to buy a vacation package. Online travel agencies bundle flights and hotel stays together, which can be a bargain at the last minute when prices may spike elsewhere. In addition, the Department of Transportation requires airlines to honor any changes or cancellations within 24 hours of a ticket purchase so you can change your plans without paying extra fees.
You can also save by being flexible with your dates, as the best fares are often limited to certain days of the week or specific times (such as early morning or overnight “red eyes”). Flight search engines with flexible date options can reveal better deals.
Finally, it is better to set up a dedicated savings account to give your money a purpose and prevent you from accidentally spending it on something else. Keeping track of your progress on a digital calendar can help keep you motivated and stay on track.
Take advantage of airline mileage programs
Airline miles are a valuable reward for frequent travelers. While airline frequent flyer programs have rules and restrictions regarding earning, accumulating, and redeeming points, most larger carriers belong to multi-airline loyalty alliances that allow members to earn, combine, and use miles across all member airlines. Most airline cards offer 25,000 to 50,000 bonus miles when you sign up, which can easily cover the cost of a roundtrip domestic ticket. Many credit card companies also have “reward redemption portals” or similar options to book travel using reward points or miles.
Travelers often save money by bundling a vacation package with airfare and hotel accommodations. Especially at the eleventh hour, when flight prices are likely to spike elsewhere, these bundles can be much less expensive than purchasing the flights and hotels separately. Airline frequent flyer program rewards can also be used to reduce the cost of other travel expenses such as rental cars, hotels, and restaurant meals. Savvy travelers often employ a “cash-and-miles” approach, utilizing their miles to defray the costs of premium cabin tickets or other travel upgrades.
Look for hotel deals
Many hotels offer discounts to attract travelers during busy periods. For example, many luxury hotels in the United States will offer deals during the winter for skiers and in the summer for families visiting the best national parks.
Hotel prices fluctuate often, and looking at many booking sites for the best deal is essential. Compare prices using a price comparison site and set up alerts. Also, consider booking multiple nights – sometimes, the cost goes down if you book 2 or 3 nights instead of 1.
Airlines and travel companies don’t advertise their sales but often bundle your hotel and flight together in a package deal. You can find these deals at online travel agencies. Hotels and cruises will also run seasonal sales to attract travelers, and travel providers such as women-only tour operator Wild Terrains have year-round sales to fill seats on their color tours and wilderness treks.