Ah, to be young and able to travel anywhere, eat anywhere, sleep anywhere at any time. We recently found an article by travel writer Evie Carick, who listed several ways she was able to make her travel dollars go further. While it may not be ideal for the seasoned executive who’s accustomed to traveling business class, for younger business travelers or people heading out on vacation, these are some tips to help you stretch your travel dollars.
Some of them are old standards, such as taking public transportation, traveling during the off-season, walking, and of course, hoarding freebies. But there are a few new nuggets thanks to advances in technology, such as Hopper’s flight alerts and Kayak’s flex month, to name a few. Here are some of Evie’s tips that we especially liked.
Consider traveling at night, especially if you’re going by train. Not only can you travel comfortably (i.e. wearing pajamas), but you aren’t wasting a day traveling. Grab a sleep mask, ear plugs and blanket. Fall asleep in one place and awaken in another, ready to sightsee. Plus, you’ve just saved yourself a night’s stay in a hotel. Pack light, only a week’s worth of clothes, and do laundry as you reach your destinations. Put your laptop and toiletries in a backpack, and avoid checking any luggage.
Speaking of transportation, have you flown one of the many small, budget airlines? Google your destination and discover which airlines travel to your intended destination. Spirit, Frontier, and JetBlue are worth a good first look if you need to save money.
Booking directly also helps lower costs, but keep an eye out for extra fees and surcharges as they accumulate quickly. Try Skyscanner’s Everywhere search to find cheap flights close to your final destination, then book the final leg of the trip separately, or get a rental car.
Do you still have your student ID? Assuming it wasn’t more than a decade ago and the age differences aren’t obvious, show your student ID to get some additional discounts only available to students. And if you’re over 50, AARP offers great discounts for travelers, as does AAA.
Want to do some sightseeing? Learning about a new city can be costly, but if you take only free city tours, you might be surprised at what you discover about your destination. Check out Sandeman if you’re staying in a major European city, while FreeTour.com is available in 118 countries around the world. No free tours where you are? Ask at your hotel or tourist information desk if they know of any. Finally, even though it’s a freebie, your guide might appreciate a tip at the end.
To get around a new city, download an offline Google Map for Internet-free orientation. You can also download a language dictionary in Google Translate. BonusTranslate operates in airplane mode, so you don’t have to worry about chewing up data when you’re in a foreign country.
In fact, try to keep your phone in airplane mode while you’re in another country, unless you specifically have a phone that works overseas. (Ask your mobile provider if you’re not sure.) Then, if you need to send a text or update social media, use a place with free wifi, like McDonald’s or Starbucks — you can find those around the world. Also, consider using apps like WhatsApp to send texts and only use it on wifi, so you don’t incur international charges.
If you’d rather drive yourself to do some sightseeing, make sure your credit card or car insurance will cover you. If it does, skip the insurance from the car rental agency. In most cases, their insurance is expensive and unnecessary, but talk to your credit card provider and insurance agent to be sure.
Speaking of credit cards, make sure your cards won’t hit you with foreign transaction fees. Ideally, it will also offer airline rewards which can help you earn airline miles for every dollar spent. For example, you could use an American Express Gold to earn Delta miles. Use it to pay your bills, and then pay off your AMEX each month. You’ll eventually earn enough miles to score a free ticket.
Lastly, make sure you bank card doesn’t require ATM fees. Some offer reimbursement of ATM fees worldwide while others offer unlimited reimbursements in the US. If you’re going to travel a lot, you may want to switch banks to one that doesn’t charge ATM fees.
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