If you love to travel, but are finding yourself on a shoestring budget, you might think your only option is to pitch a tent in your own backyard. Fear not, because the truth is that even a budget savvy traveler can soar to new heights and destinations on a dime! Luxury, comfort, and class are all available to even the toughest penny pincher. The trick is, knowing where to look for these deals and how to plan for them once you have found them!
Perhaps this is the year you really want to get out and see the world. If so, take a peek at these ten budget savvy travel tips below. You will be surprised at how easy it is to travel on a budget and still enjoy many luxuries and experiences you may have thought you could not afford!
Top Ten Tips for Budget Savvy Travelers
1. Sign up on airline mailing lists: In an attempt to woo passengers and accumulate business, airlines will offer specials frequently throughout the year. You might even encounter a special that allows you instant status in their frequent flyer program! For example if you fly American Airlines, you may be able to grab tickets at Platinum status. The best way to find out about these deals first is to sign up on their promo lists through their websites. Be sure you are on mailing lists for your favorite airlines so you know about all deals before you plan!
2. Upgrade your flights for free: If you are a frequent flyer, you can certainly use your miles to upgrade as long as allocated seats are available for upgrade. Using the right miles at the right time is important! Short flights are typically not worth the upgrade since you would waste valuable miles. Of course, on many airlines having frequent flyer status will only help to get free upgrades. The higher the status, the better chance of getting a free upgrade confirmed days before the flight.
3. Make friends with the right people: Airline employees enjoy the key perks of free travel for family and friends. The details are different for each airline, and these passes can come with a glitch if flights are oversold, buddy pass riders are usually last on the priority list for a seat), however most airlines will give business or first class seats to these passengers if they are available! So befriend someone in the business and feel the perks too!
4. Be flexible with food: On a recent trip to Hawaii, I knew I had to sample the resort’s buffet asap. However, when we arrived Sunday morning, I realized the cost of the Sunday brunch buffet is $34.95, while on Monday it drops significantly to only $14.95. Since I was going to be there the next day, I waited a day and saved money! You will notice that restaurants and bars offer more deals during the week when less people are out. Visit your higher end eateries during this time to get the same great fare for less.
5. Take Advantage of Hotel Perks: Many hotels these days offer a free breakfast. This should always be taken advantage of. Before leaving for the day or checking out, look for fresh fruit, water, and granola in the fitness center, healthy snacks at the spa, and coffee in the lobby or business center. Hotels are usually stocked full with these freebies that are there for the taking, so don’t be shy about utilizing them! Also, whether it’s a condo, apartment, or a hotel, staying somewhere with a kitchen can do miracles for your budget as you can prepare your own meals for less!
6. Know Your Discount Eligibility: There are so many memberships cards accepted at eateries, hotels, and travel services and you may not even realize you’re already entitled to discounts if you don’t do your homework. Students, senior citizens, military members, and certain professions, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters, may be given a discount. It never hurts to ask! You can typically save at least 15% when you do!
7. Join a Rewards Program: Another way to get more bang for your buck is to sign up for a rewards program such as Upromise that pays you when you book hotels, rent cars, or eat out, even if you are dining out of state. If you have student loans, or are saving for college for yourself or your children, you can register your debit, credit, and dining cards for free. When you make certain purchases, including at restaurants and grocery stores, a percentage is applied to your loans or savings account. You are truly saving for the future while you travel!
8. Insure your trip: As unexpected storm or hurricane can drastically affect the quality of your trip. Insurance of some sort is becoming more of a smart move than in the past and is recommended for a vacation such as this. Now don’t panic, your personal life/home/auto insurance agent can help you with this and combined with the insurance you already have, you can usually get away paying a very minimal fee for this.
9. Bring your own incidentals: A forgotten toothbrush or toiletry item will cost you big if you need to purchase it in a gift shop. Be sure to pack your own toiletries, motion sickness medication, pain relievers, etc. Buying these items from the hotel shop will cost you significantly more. Being prepared will prevent a pricey trip, where you might be tempted to snag extra snacks, sandals, magazines, and other odds and ends that add up.
10. Timing is everything: May, September, January, and February are the least busiest times for cruise ships and will assure you get the best values. December and January are the least busiest times in Florida and California for Disney Vacation. Find out where the least busiest times are where you would like to visit and plan accordingly. Not only will you avoid crowds, but you will avoid higher prices as well!
So pack your bags and get ready for a fun, fabulous, AND frugal vacation! Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to seeing the sites for much less. Be sure to take a lot of pictures, and enjoy safe travels!