“Avoid prime destinations during peak seasons.”
“Visit countries where your dollars go further.”
If you’re a seasoned traveler, you’ve probably heard these truisms even more often than you’ve heard “Too many cooks spoil the broth” or “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” Yes, they’ve become clichés. But they’re clichés for a good reason: if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, they’re worth thinking about every time you venture to another part of the U.S. or beyond.
So, what are some other things worth thinking about when planning our travels—ways to save a little here or a lot there that might not be “top of mind?”
We’ve compiled a short list of 10 ideas that don’t pop up in every travel savings tips article or conversation. You might already be doing some of these things yourself. Then again, you might not be…
1. Make a gift list. When buying gifts for family and friends back home, make a list before your trip. It will help you avoid unnecessary purchases.
2. Check with locals about the best places to shop. They will likely have a much better sense of where you can get the best bargains and most value.
3. Find alternatives to airport taxis. These can often cost an arm and two legs. So, it helps to check out lower-cost options such as metro passes in major cities before your trip.
4. Avoid one-way car rentals. This is when you rent a car, say, in Paris and drop it off in Berlin. It’s a big inconvenience for the car rental company, which translates into a big expense for you. Plan your trip so that you always drop your rental car off where you picked it up.
5. Resist rental-car insurance in the U.S. When you’re getting your rental car, the agency will always want to sell you its insurance. But, in most cases, your regular auto insurance already covers you when you’re in the U.S. When you’re in another country, it’s another matter altogether. Your regular insurance doesn’t cover you, and it’s absolutely in your interest to get the coverage.
6. Ask about discounts. Discounts are available to all kinds of people: children, students, seniors, people in the military, and members of such groups as AARP and AAA. Hotels, especially, won’t ask you if you’re eligible for one or another discount. So, you have to speak up. Also, if you’re eligible for more than one discount, say, AAA and AARP, find out which one saves you more.
7. Don’t be afraid to haggle with hotels. Especially if you travel in a non-peak season, you’ll be amazed by how many extra hotel fees can be waived and how many additional amenities you can get if you just press a bit for a better deal. Usually, hoteliers will be quite flexible and accommodating.
8. Look for accommodations a bit off the beaten path. This can be very helpful in prime big-city destinations, where your “room with a view” can be very expensive. Often, looking for lodging a bit farther away from the major sightseeing attractions—while it means a few minutes more schlepping back and forth each day—can also mean significant savings.
9. Pack light. With airlines charging for checked baggage, every additional bag costs. For a traveling family of four, for example, these costs can quickly add up.
10. Try train travel by night. This works especially well when going from one destination to another in places like Europe. Night train travel costs less, you can sleep in a berth, and you don’t have to pay for a hotel room for the night.
Do you have an under-emphasized travel savings tip or two you’d like to share? If so, just post a comment. We’d love to hear from you.