Over time, I have read probably hundreds of articles full of tips and tricks to make traveling more affordable Most of them contain the same tips. I have tried many of them but also decided that many of them were too ridiculous to try. Although I hope to some day, I don’t have the ability right now to be as flexible with my travel schedule and destinations as some of these tips would like.
I have compiled a list of 5 of these tips (and tips within a tip) that I actually use and that have actually helped me.
Loyalty to a specific airline or hotel group can make a huge difference if you travel frequently. Loyalty to a certain airline or hotel group simply means using that airline or hotel group whenever possible and become a member of their offered rewards programs. Personally, I am loyal to Delta Airlines and the IHG hotel group. I accumulate tons of points by flying and staying with them as well as using the credit card. There are many benefits within these groups as well. By having a Delta credit card, I can check a free bag which saves about $50 per flight if I choose to check a bag and most of the hotels I stay in have free breakfast (including fruit, yogurt and pastries you can take with you for free snacks). I had enough SkyMiles to fly to Los Angeles earlier this year after only flying a few times prior and due to hotel points, I haven’t had to pay for the majority of the rooms I’ve booked this year either. Even if it doesn’t always seem like the best deal, it’s still the best deal. Sometimes it is not always worth it to forfeit hundreds SkyMiles of points toward a free night to save $20-30 once.
2. Research the crap out of your flights before you book.
I know some tips say to browse for flights incognito and infrequently to avoid prices going up. Those are good tips too. It’s also a pretty well known fact that flying on weekends and Monday mornings are not always the cheapest option. But it really doesn’t hurt to do a little research still. This morning, I booked a flight to Atlanta. I debated for a while whether or not I wanted to pay for a flight or drive but due to the fact that I have to drive to St. Louis the week before, I decided I wanted to fly. My dates and times were not super flexible. I was willing to leave a little earlier on the flight there to save money but I had to book an evening flight for the way back. The roundtrip price for the flights I would need would have been $366.40 -a bit much for a 2 day trip. When I checked out one way tickets there and back, they were a lot cheaper. My flight theres was $110.20 and my flight back (the Friday evening flight I needed) was only $118.20 making my roundtrip $228.40, which is $138 cheaper than the roundtrip price. I highly recommend looking into breaking up your flights to see if you can get a cheaper price.
3. Open a savings account that’s harder to access.
As silly as this sound, it helps so much. I found that when I just moved money between two accounts at the same bank, it was very easy for me to take money out of savings whenever I wanted and it was almost impossible to save money. Having accounts in different places adds a few extra steps to the money moving process making it more difficult and less worth while to go to all that trouble for a few dollars here and there. This is my #1 tip out of all of these.
4. The dreaded cash back and survey apps.
I’m not even going to lie, these are my least favorite tips to read. The idea of downloading things onto my devices to make a few dollars a month does not appeal to me but there are a few I actually use that actually help. No, you’re not going to make a fortune off of surveys and cash back apps. It doesn’t work that way. But I’ve used an app called Ibotta for about two years and have gotten almost $100 back over time just for buying things I normally buy. It is worth a few extra seconds after my shopping trip to scan my receipt and items and build up a significant amount of cash back. I don’t do a lot of paid surveys because I find them to be annoying and mostly scam as sometimes they’ll have you answer a ton of questions only to tell you that you don’t qualify but sometimes I will use MySurvey.com while I watch tv and earning $10 here and there is pretty nice.
Incase you wanted to give either of these a try, we might as well help each other out. Use my code wogywyh when signing up for Ibotta and we will both earn faster. *not sponsored. Just thought I’d give it a shot.
5. Just do the freaking expensive thing you wanted to do.
Um… what? How in the world does that save money? Here’s the thing: it might or it might now. But if you don’t do that one thing you were the most excited about, your trip will not be fulfilling and as a result, you’ll probably spend a lot more money trying to overcompensate for your experience. So just do it. It’s not worth it if you don’t have the time of your life.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I personally use them all and I wanted to create my own list of no bullshit travel “life hacks”.