Even though we utilize miles and points in this hobby, the travel still isn’t free. Whether it’s the $5.60 passenger fee or annual fees, these incremental fees add up and increase your actual cost of travel. To combat this, here are 10 money-saving travel tips.
Money-Saving Travel Tips
1. Sign up for loyalty programs
This should be a no-brainer. No matter what chain you’re staying/flying, even if you don’t think you’ll ever stay/fly them again, sign up for their rewards program. You never know when you might use those miles or points, possibly with them or their partners.
2. Use ridesharing services on short trips
Run the numbers and see if ridesharing services will save you money compared to renting a car. Although I prefer walking around to explore new places, my average Uber/Lyft ride costs about $10 and is usually cheaper than renting a car. Also, ridesharing services are more attractive if you’re under 25 as you sometimes pay a premium when renting. If you do end up renting a car, explore picking up your rental away from the airport as it might be cheaper.
3. Don’t check bags
Unless I have status/credit card with the airline that provides free checked baggage, I tend to travel carry-on only. You’ll save a lot of money replicating this strategy, I do suggest checking your bag if traveling some low-cost carriers as it may be cheaper than carrying your luggage on (Spirit/Frontier).
4. Look for free breakfast or similar offerings
If the prices are competitive books stays at hotels that offer free breakfast, snacks or simialr offerings. Lee loves Kimpton properties as they offer a complimentary Wine Hour, an hour-long event in the hotel’s lobbies that provide both red and white options. Some properties go above and beyond and offer beer and hors d’oeuvres at their Wine Hour. Lee and I recently took advantage of Kimpton’s Wine Hour and had some beers and hors d’oeuvres at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Denver before heading out to an Avalanche game. According to Kimpton’s website “In 2016, we poured 1.5 million glasses of wine at all of our hotels during Wine Hour which equates to about 300,000 bottles of wine!” Go Kimpton!
Fun Fact: The Buchanan in San Francisco’s Japantown offers Takara Sake made in nearby Berkeley, California during their Wine Hour!
5. Book hotel rooms with microwave and/or fridges
This is something I learned the hard way on a recent trip. I brought leftovers from a fantastic restaurant back to the hotel and didn’t have any place to store them! If there are no rooms available with these amenities the front desk might be able to bring one to your room for free or a small fee.
6. Buy sightseeing tickets in advance
7. Convert money at your local bank
You’ll get a much better conversion rate at your local branch than you will in a foreign country or an airport. I saved about 15% when acquiring East Caribbean Dollars before a trip to St. Lucia last year.
8. Bring snacks to the airport
Nobody wants to pay $6 bucks for a bag of trail mix and $5 for a bottle of water. Pick up some of your favorite snacks before traveling and try not to forget your water. If you forget your water, ask the flight attendant for a glass when boarding.
9. DON’T FORGET CARDS THAT GRANT YOU LOUNGE ACCESS
Been there done this. Nothing worse than being delayed and having no space to relax (well maybe being dragged off of United flight…too soon?), bringing that credit card or lounge access card could be your golden ticket. If you’ve never had a bad delay, read about Lee’s recent experience with Delta to understand why lounge access is crucial.
10. Eat away from tourist traps
Restaurants charge more money if they are in a primetime location, look for restaurants five or more blocks away from the traps to save some money. You might find better food for less.
The Bald Thoughts
Travel the way we do it is not free, no matter what certain news sources like to write in headlines. Taking advantage of the money-saving travel tips can help offset fees that us travelers are required to pay.
What are some of your money-saving travel tips? Do you also utilize any of the tips above? Let me know.