Who doesn’t want easy tips for budget travel planning? TravelSmart Woman is here to help. First, you have to agree to consider some new methods or change your thinking about how travel planning “should” be. Second, you’ll be glad you did.
Here are 8 tips for budget travel to make your planning smoother and your budget happier.
- Be flexible! Before you call a travel agent/consultant/representative–because you already know to speak with a real person–do some research. The cheapest days to fly are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Look at flight times, too. You can save some serious cash if you are willing to shuffle your schedule.
- Get familiar with a few search tools: The Hopper app is helpful for tracking airfares. Google Flights is handy, too. Loads of folks love Kayak, but there are others. You don’t need them all. Pick one or two and learn to use them.
- Sign up for fare alerts and newsletters from your favorite travel partners. Airlines, hotels, rental car agencies, and cruise lines are happy to let you know when they have a “slump” and need to increase volume. Websites such as Kayak, Hipmunk, and Skyscanner can send you alerts after you fill out your travel details.
- Consider alternate airports for cheaper fares. Milwaukee instead of Chicago? Burbank instead of Los Angeles? Oakland instead of San Francisco? Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami? You get the idea. Other bonuses: Rental cars can be easier to access, parking rates are less expensive, and public transportation is often simpler. It doesn’t always work, but give it a try.
- Checking bags for a domestic trip? Fly Southwest Airlines. Period.
- When going to Europe, consider two itineraries. The first itinerary is a roundtrip from your U.S. city to a European hub, such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt. The second itinerary is a roundtrip from the European hub to your destination. There are low-cost carriers and cheaper flights within Europe. CAVEAT: Be sure and leave plenty of time to change airlines…and sometimes, airports. Heathrow and Gatwick are examples for London. But, you can save tons of money!
- Remember that you can hold a flight itinerary for 24 hours. For FREE. If you find an amazing deal, grab it. Then check with your partner, boss, or dog sitter to find out if the dates are good. If you pass up a cheap flight, you have no one but yourself to blame when you go back and find that it’s gone. Because it will be gone.
- Here’s a sneaky tip from Johnny Jet: Use “hidden cities” to score a super-cheap fare. Say you want to go to Cleveland, but the ticket is ridiculously high. Just use Skiplagged to find out if any flights stop in Cleveland on their way to somewhere else. Buy a one-way ticket–and of course, you must use carry-on. When the plane arrives in Cleveland, off you go! Airlines hate this, but after winning a lawsuit to prove that it’s perfectly legal, the 23 year-old founder of Skiplagged brags: “We’re better at finding cheap flights than anyone else— so good, United Airlines actually sued us for it.”
These are a few ideas to get you started…whatever you do, don’t assume that theres not a cheaper way to get where you’re going!