Slideshow: 13 Travel Hacks That Will Save You Money and Time
13 Travel Hacks That Will Save You Money and Time
Anyone who has done any sort of traveling knows it can be incredibly expensive after booking the hotels and flights, shelling out for dining and transportation once there, and covering all the other miscellaneous expenditures. [related]
As if budgeting for expenses wasn’t difficult enough, travelers also have to carefully budget their time. Unless you plan to be gone for several weeks, chances are you won’t make it to every exhibit and attraction that you’d like to, but if you plan properly you can make the most of your time. Purchase all your attraction tickets online ahead of time to save yourself from wasting precious time in line.
Clear Browser Cookies
Have you ever refreshed your search while shopping for tickets and realized the prices were going up? This is usually due to your browser’s cookie history. Companies use these cookies to track your searches and create dynamic pricing, which means your ticket price may potentially increase if you keep searching for the same item. To avoid being a victim of the airlines’ sneaky tactics, clear your browser cookies each time you do a search.
Check Flights After Purchase
After purchasing a ticket, you usually have 24 hours to cancel or change it. Definitely check the airline’s specific policy on this, since each one is different, but if prices change within that 24-hour period you may still have time to snag the better deal.
Sign up for email alerts for airline deals and — if you’re still shopping around — sign yourself up for price alerts. Airlines will send you flight deals and special offers, so if there are several airlines you use often be sure to add yourself to their email lists. Similarly, stay updated on their social media platforms in case they release special deals to their followers.
Fly During Off Hours
With the exception of late Sunday night or early Monday morning (if you’re flying to and from metropolitan cities) the off hours for flying are really early in the morning or late at night. Most people don’t even want to be up, let alone at the airport, at the crack of dawn, so tickets between 5 and 7 a.m. tend to be cheaper than, say, a ticket at 11 a.m. or noon. On the same note, most don’t want to arrive at their destination in the middle of the night, so tickets after 8 p.m. are usually cheaper as well.
Fly on Off Days
This one won’t apply to everyone, but if you’re fortunate enough to have the flexibility of traveling any day of the week, seek out tickets for Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. These three days of the week are cheaper because fewer people are flying during them. Most people leaving on a weekend trip will book departing flights for Thursday or Friday and come home Sunday or Monday.
Freeze Your Water
As mentioned in our trip tips about bringing leftovers on a flight, if you freeze soups and stews they can go through security in your carry-on — and this works for water as well! So if you don’t mind waiting a little bit for your drink to thaw out (or you can always run it under warm water in the bathroom for a few minutes), freeze your water bottle before heading to the airport and you won’t have to spend the ridiculous prices once you get through security.
Look for Free Activities
Once you’ve arrived at your destination (or if you have time to do some planning before), research what activities in the city might be free. Your hotel concierge service will usually know this information as well.
If you already know what you’d like to do and see on your trip, be sure to purchase tickets online as soon as possible. Not only will this save you from waiting in lines once you arrive, but it may determine whether you even get to do that activity or not. For instance, the wait time to visit Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam can sometimes reach up to two hours (or longer), but you can bypass that line by purchasing tickets to the museum a few weeks ahead.
Use websites that compare flight prices for you, like Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz, and even Google’s flight search function. Once you’ve scoured the internet for the best prices (clearing your browser’s cookies between searches, of course) go directly to the airline’s site to purchase the ticket. At times this can land you a cheaper ticket than if you book through the third-party site itself (because of different fees), and you’ll also have better coverage on your ticket if plans change.
Take Your Student ID
If you happen to be a student, make sure to take your student ID card with you, because many museums and exhibits offer discounted prices to students, like Gaudí’s Casa Batlló in Barcelona. However, since they’ll need to see your ID, this only works if you buy your ticket on the spot and not ahead of time — which isn’t always the best idea if you’re on a tight schedule.
Try to Board First
The quicker you get onto the plane the more likely you’ll have space for your carry-on in the overhead bins. If space runs out, the flight attendants have to check your carry-on which can delay you once you arrive at your destination if you have to wait at the carrousel to get your bag. Sometimes the airline will leave it at the gate entrance for easy pick-up as you debark from the flight, but that’s not always the case. Don’t waste precious travel time waiting for your bag to come around — unless you already had luggage checked in that you’ll be waiting for regardless.
Use Membership Discount Options
Have AAA or credit card benefits? You can usually get discounts by knowing what each company offers. If you need to rent a car at your destination, for instance, rental companies will usually give you an upgrade or discount (or both) when you use your AAA card. Also, some airlines have point promotions with specific credit cards, so find out which ones do. If you can rack up enough points, it’ll help pay for your next trip in the future (or for this trip if you’ve already been collecting them – go you!).
Use Travel Apps
There’s an app out there for every need you may have, and naturally there are plenty that attempt to make traveling easier for the consumer. One such app that happens to be ideal for finding the cheapest flights possible is Hopper. It tells you what days are the most expensive (and the cheapest) and whether the prices will change between your search time and the date you’ve chosen. It will also let you track each trip individually, updating you when ticket prices fluctuate. Other great apps to have while traveling are Google Translate and WiFi Finder.