You’ve got the urge to travel, but getting away is certainly not cheap right now. Use these insider tips to adjust how you book and make plans to save money on travel.
1. Start checking airfare months before you plan to travel.
Flights are generally more expensive if you wait to the last minute to book your trip. Start shopping for fares months before your travel date, and book once you see a low rate. Travel sites like Kayak have tools to help you identify whether prices are likely to drop or increase in coming days.
According to a study by CheapAir.com, the best time to purchase plane tickets for a domestic trip is about 70 days before your departure date. However, this is an average, so it’s still important to compare fares anywhere from 127 days to 21 days in advance.
2. Time your transportation carefully.
You can save money on travel by planning your transportation around busy days. The busiest days for flights, train tickets, and rental care prices tend to be on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If you can head to your destination on a Tuesday or Wednesday, you’re more likely to save money on travel.
You can also save money on travel by avoiding peak travel times like holidays and school breaks. Peak times vary from location to location, but you can typically research the off-season period for a specific destination to determine a slow time to go. For example, September and November tend to be slow months for traveling in Hawaii.
3. Don’t rent a car.
If you’re trying to save money on travel, you might want to consider foregoing the rental car. Gas prices are high, and rental cars can cost hundreds of dollars a day. Before you travel, research the public transportation available at your destination. Does your hotel offer a free airport shuttle? Some hotels even offer shuttle service to popular destinations in the area. If traveling to a major city, you may be able to take a train or bus to get around.
Ride sharing may also be more affordable than renting a car if you don’t plan on leaving your hotel multiple times a day throughout your trip. Check your app before your travel to estimate how much it could cost to get around.
If you do plan on renting a car, make sure to comparison shop and use travel sites like Kayak to compare car rental companies and secure the best rate.
4. Use points to cover all or part of your hotel or airfare.
If you don’t have travel points saved up, and you have time before you get away, you might consider opening a travel rewards credit card and taking advantage of their opening offer. Most travel rewards credit cards offer a certain amount of points if you spend a minimum amount within a specific period of time. For example, you might earn 50,000 points for spending $3,000 within 3 months of opening your credit card.
Travel rewards credit cards can make it easier for you to accumulate points towards hotel or airfare. You can take advantage of these offers if you typically spend that amount anyway and plan on leveraging the points to save money on travel. Overspending just to earn points is counterintuitive.
5. Pack a meal or snacks.
Food costs can add up when you’re traveling. In addition to your three meals a day while on your trip, you might get hungry on your flight or while at the airport. Bringing snacks with you on a trip or prepping a meal can help you save money while traveling.
It’s an expensive time to travel for Americans. If you want to get away on a much-needed trip, you can save money on travel by doing research before you go. Start checking airfare a few months ahead of your departure date. Try to travel during the off-season or on less busy days like mid-week. Use public transportation or ride sharing apps instead of renting a car. Use points to cover travel costs like your hotel or flight. Pack snacks and make meals when possible, to reduce what you spend on dining out while away.