Travel at Off Times
Be flexible with your travel dates. Did you know that traveling on a Tuesday is usually much cheaper than traveling on Sunday? Also, planning travel around the shoulder season of the destination could save you thousands, depending on the destination. For example, going early or late in the season for Alaska cruises or river cruises might require some extra layers, but the crowds are smaller and so is the price tag.
Skip the Views
Most people want a room with a view. However, if you will settle for a garden, resort, or pool view, you can save dollars for dining and other activities. We usually don't spend a lot of time in our rooms while traveling, and at night it’s too dark to see the views anyway.
Make a Checklist
Create a checklist for packing. How many times have you forgotten to pack a jacket, toothpaste, or other important item? Getting organized before you leave home will ensure you have everything you need and prevent you from spending money when you get there on things you already own.
Take Free City Tours
Many large cities, such as London, Paris, Venice, and New York all have free walking tours. Find these ahead of time and book your spot if necessary. Most are led by local volunteers who can give you a lot of insight into the destination.
Plan Shorter Stays
No matter how much time you have to travel, sometimes if you can find a way to shorten your vacation by one or two days, it’s a big money saver. Of course, you want to get the most out of your vacation, but if you have a choice between getting exactly what you want or going over budget, it’s always worth considering dropping a little time. Plus, it gives you time to relax at home before diving back into real life.
Learn How to Tip
Know the tipping etiquette where you are traveling. Americans are accustomed to tipping; however, many times we are tipping when none is expected. For example, in Costa Rica, a mandatory service charge is added to all restaurant bills so no tipping is expected. Research your destination before you travel.
See What Your Credit Card Offers
Many times your credit card can be used for added perks or upgrades. For example, American Express offers a collection of nearly 900 hotels worldwide that offer Platinum Card Members exclusive benefits, including early check-in, room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, and food and beverage credits.
Go Cheap One Night, then Go Big
Sometimes travelers have their heart set on a particular hotel or resort. But when they see the cost, it can sometimes cause sticker shock. One way to make it work is to stay at two different resorts, or change room categories mid-way through your trip. Start off at a different hotel in a lower room category. Then switch it up and end your travel on a high note.
Avoid Airport Snacks
Bring your own food to the airport. You can't take drinks through security, but you can bring an empty reusable water bottle and fill it after going through the screening. You will save money on the over-priced snacks and drinks from the airport food vendors.
Find Out About Tourist Cards
Many cities offer a card for purchase that gives you free or heavily discounted rates on attractions, museums, tours, dining, and even public transportation. However, not all tourist cards are created equally, so be sure to look carefully at what’s included.
Use the Services of a Travel Consultant
Not every trip requires a travel consultant, but when planning a big trip or bucket list destination, travel agents are money savers for clients. Even if your agent charges a planning fee, you will often get much more value and more amenities than you can get on your own. You will also have a guarantee that you are getting what was promised. You can travel worry free and know that you have someone to call should something go wrong.
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Ann Jones, CTC, MCC