Most of you seasoned frequent travellers probably already know most of the tricks of travel in the most inexpensive manner possible– however, for those of you who might still need a few tips to make your travel less costly, here are some ideas that you might not have thought about:
1. Travel light – get your items into one bag if at all possible, one that you can carry-on and not have to pay the extra ‘bag’ fees, which can get pricey. Most frequent travellers have this down to a science – and know what they will use and won’t use, which develops in seasoned travellers.
2. Try to fly on a flexible schedule – most people who travel have specific dates in which they need to get to their destination, especially if it is a vacation. Some of us have specific vacation schedules – however, if you plan in advance, you can find some pretty amazing deals on airfare and other forms of travel. Sometimes, even flying into an alternate city can save hundreds on tickets.
3. Browse for the deals – when planning a trip, make sure you check every avenue available for travel. Even travel agents can have or know of some specific sales or discounts on plane fare, cruises or overseas travel. Check cheaptickets.com and Travelocity and places that offer specials. No doubt if you do your homework, you can find tickets to your destination for less than you expected.
4. Make sure you sign up for all of the available airline programs that you possibly can. For example, Qantas has a Frequent Flyer program that can help you to more a elite status, as well as United Airlines, Australia –which lead to more and more savings – and rewards come to those who sign up and stay in contact with the airlines, and I mean every airline you might use in the future. Frequent traveller programs vary for each airline and the rewards can be offered at different times as well. Those rewards really save you money in hotels, airfare, insurance, car rentals, upgrades, pre-boarding time and special vacation package deals.
5. Do the same with the car rental places. Sign up for every possible service they offer, such as the ‘Preferred Member’ service. It saves money, time and frustration when travelling. Membership is n ice because sometimes when the car rental place knows you are coming, as a member, you gain special benefits such as an agent starting your car to warm it up for you during cold winter months.
6. Sign up for credit card rewards – these can pay off big in many ways. Credit cards offer free travel and free hotel after you reach a certain status with their company, and American Express offers member rewards annually, sometimes minimal sometimes larger, depending on your expenditures, but these rewards save you money on travel.
7. Join frequent flyer forums, for info on the latest deals and sometimes even cheap or free tickets. A good one is Flyertalk –where frequent flyers meet and post their encounters and specific tips they have learned in years of travel. They claim “Flyertalk” is an interactive community that provides up-to-date information on travel-related loyalty reward programs. It’s the hub that brings everyone together — from leisure travelers to mileage junkies — to converse about programs, get the latest program buzz or discuss how to maximize points or miles. You’ll even get some good general travel information!” on their website – however there are many others available via search engine.
8. Carry food with you at all times. You never know when a delay will keep you waiting for hours, and we all know how expensive food can be at airports. Having snacks and foods with you will cut back on frustration, hunger pangs and save a bundle in food costs. Things like dried fruit, nuts, fruit leathers, and those individually wrapped cheese sticks are great, and keep for days.
9. Be nice at the airports and other travel agencies – the nice guy always wins in this situation. An airport agent who has been yelled at most of the day due to delays will welcome a smiling face, and has the ability to bump you to a higher class, for free. Always remember that when travelling, you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.
10. Last, but not least by any means, consider your ‘travel window’ and start looking at hotels and airline tickets at least 2 months in advance. The worst thing is to jump in and buy tickets, only to find out that they were discounted the following week. Know where to look, and check with travel agents, they sometimes have the inside info to future specials and deals, or better yet, check out Smarter Travel for tips on the best time to travel, and the best deals.
Using good old common sense will generally save you money, and planning ahead saves headaches. Always take more cash than you expect to use, but control spending as much as possible – and relax and enjoy the ride!
Ally is part of the team that manages Australian Credit Cards, a free travel money cards comparison service in Australia. Before joining ACC, she was a Media Planner with McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., with award-winning executions, including the Levi’s 501 “Live Unbuttoned” global campaign.