If you love to travel, saving money on airfare, hotel rooms and cruises can be something of a challenge. However, it is possible to enjoy savings, whether your next trip is taking you across the state, or to the other side of the world.
Perhaps the best tip for saving money on plane tickets is to plan ahead, especially for key markets such as the Caribbean in winter, or Europe during the summer. You can book about 11 months ahead on most of the major airlines, and some airlines also have a system in place whereby they will refund the fare difference if your ticket price goes down after you have bought the ticket. It’s also worth signing up for fare alerts if you have a particular destination in mind. Most major travel websites will then email you when the price of your trip changes, allowing you to gauge the best time to pay for your plane tickets. Check the smaller airlines for domestic travel – Jet Blue, Frontier and Spirit Airlines are nearly always less expensive than the larger US carriers.
Most travel experts will tell you that to increase your chances of getting a deal on your plane tickets, flexibility is key. Air fares can fluctuate wildly within just a few days, and it is also often less expensive to fly during the week, rather than on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Look for savings on new routes, and also look for savings into nearby cities. If you are flying into and out of New York, Washington DC or Los Angeles, you have a choice of airports, all fairly close to each other – check the prices for each one. Nobody wants to change planes, but connecting flights can often cost you less than a direct flight, and most airlines allow that connection to be up to 24 hours for international flights.
Hotel rooms are another area where savings can be difficult to understand but are possible if you know where to look. Unlike plane tickets, hotels can and do lower their rates the closer it is to the check in date, in an effort to fill all their rooms and prevent what is known in the industry as spoilage. You should try contacting the hotel directly to get the best rate, as the manager there has the authority to price the rooms as they please; calling direct can sometimes save you money over the well-known travel sites. Always ask if there is a better rate available, especially if you are booking the room at the last minute, or you are a repeat customer.
If you are on the road, look for hotel coupons at gas stations, rest areas, and restaurants. These coupons often give you savings of up to 30 percent or so off the regular room rate and are aimed at the traveler booking at short notice, although you can also find these coupons online. Don’t forget to take advantage of any discounts you may be eligible for, such as AARP, student, military or group travel. Many hotels in key business destinations also lower their rates at the weekend in an effort to attract customers. Several reputable companies also offer discounted accommodation at hotels and resorts in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation – worth it if you can withstand the sales tactics.
If you are planning your next cruise, there are some strategies for saving money. Just like airline tickets, prices can constantly fluctuate and it is worth keeping an eye on the cost of your desired cruise; being flexible can also help with cruise cost savings. Booking early can often not only save you money but can get you a slew of extras and upgrades, although booking your cruise just a few weeks out can also save you money. Most larger cruise lines have sales every few weeks or so. If you can get a group of 16 people together to cruise with you, you can often enjoy a free cruise, for being the trip organizer. And frequent cruisers are often given coupons and other incentives to persuade them to book another cruise.
Saving money on your next trip is possible, and being flexible, shopping around and understanding how the industry works can result in significant savings.