An Insider's Guide To Budget Travel
Stick to your budget using these tips from frequent travelers
The next time you take to the skies, do so with a little more in your wallet thanks to these savings tips.
It costs money to go places—it’s a reality we can’t escape, whether we’re traveling solo or with family, for business or pleasure. But there’s good news! There are some super-simple ways to save on travel. We caught up with a few expert travelers willing to offer words of wisdom on how to achieve budget travel for your next getaway.
When it comes to cheap fares, discount airlines like Frontier, Spirit and JetBlue are hard to beat. Their no-frills approach is a good fit for solo travelers flying with just a carry-on, but they aren’t necessarily the best choice for families. “Southwest, hands-down,” declares Daniel Southgate, a 40-year-old South Carolina father of two, when asked about his airline of choice. “Their flights are a little more expensive, but you don’t get hit with baggage fees. And with two young kids, it’s more or less impossible to pack light,” says Southgate, who takes his family on a biannual trek to visit his parents in another state. Plus, discount airlines will likely charge for onboard niceties, like snacks, water and Wi-Fi, which can quickly burn a hole in your pocket.
A snack here, a meal there—it doesn’t take long for those dining dollars to drain your per diem. Set a food budget to help curb your spending, and then keep your budget travel in check by brown bagging it. Make a trip to the local grocery store to stock up on snacks, cereal, sandwich fixings (PB&J, anyone?), a case of water and other nonperishables to keep in your room. If your accommodations offer a kitchenette, then you can take it a step further and cook your own meals, even if that’s just popping something into the microwave.
“I never make a purchase without checking for coupons first,” says Katie Knight, a 39-year-old mom of three living in Virginia who relies on coupons for her budget travel, particularly when she’s making online travel purchases. “Even if I come up with nothing, it only takes a second to do a quick search for promo codes and Groupon offers.”
In addition to finding a hotel that offers free breakfast, take advantage of discounted rates and exclusive offers with a free Choice Privileges membership. And don’t overlook the benefits of free Wi-Fi; those data costs can really put a dent in your bank account, especially if you’re far from home.
That daily latte goes down smooth, but it’s also a surefire way to sabotage a budget. Instead, make use of your hotel room’s coffee maker. If you seriously can’t survive on drip coffee, consider bringing your own equipment. “An AeroPress is essential,” says Matt Snarski, an executive from Burbank who never travels without this coffee maker. “It doesn’t take up too much room in your suitcase, and it brews a seriously good cup of coffee.”
Take a closer look at your credit card’s terms and conditions, especially if you’ll be traveling overseas. Does your card charge a foreign transaction fee? Will it offer travel insurance? Rental car insurance? Educate yourself now so you won’t be surprised by unexpected charges later.
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