6 Small ways you can save money on your travels.
The more you travel, the more small money saving tricks become second nature. These seem obvious once you’re an experienced traveller but the tips are often not obvious to novice travellers. I’ve definitely learnt the hard way a few times.
1. When flying budget airlines, read the T&Cs.
Budget airlines will sting you wherever they can e.g. your luggage is even a lb overweight, or if you don’t print your own boarding pass before arriving at the airport. Things you think will be free or only a small cost, they see as opportunities for profit. Their boarding pass printing fees tend to be especially steep. If you are traveling with young children you are wanting to bring your own stroller and travel crib with you, you’ll want to check with the airline if they are going to allow you to check them for free or what the charge will be.
However, budget airlines can be a great deal if you follow the rules, don’t attempt to change plans, and are well-organized.
2. Book online, even if you’re standing at the counter.
I use this tip all the time. Walk in rates are often much higher than online rates. For example, even the last minute discount rates a visitor centre has for local hotels will usually be higher than the online rates. Walk in rates for car rentals tend to be MUCH higher.
Of course there is always the odd exception to this rule. I will often check the online rates and then also phone.
Once I found a car rental deal that was a few quid better on the phone than online. However, I can count on one hand the number of times the walkin/phone up rate has been lower than the online price.
3. Don’t extend a rental car.
If you need to extend a rental car, expect them to double or triple whatever low rate you booked it at. Modifying a car reservation before you pick it up usually isn’t so much of an issue. However, once you already have the car, extending it is usually very expensive. Sometimes you can keep it for 1 extra day at the same rate you booked, before they jump the price. The NYT has some tips for saving on rental car hires. As does Lifehacker.com.
Like budget airlines, read ALL the fine print when you book a rental car to avoid being stung for unexpected extras.
4. Pay for your small expenses and extras online.
Where something has a fixed price that doesn’t fluctuate based on how far in advance you book, you usually won’t need to book ahead. This lets you retain flexibility, which is great. For example, bus tickets from the airport, in most cases. In general however, book your extras and conveniences online as soon as you know your plans won’t change.
Pay for extras like airline bag fees and airport parking online. For the latter there are often wide variations in the charges for these services, with walkup/driveup rates being the highest.
5. Take snacks and drinks to the airport and museums.
Be prepared for anywhere that will gouge you for a bag of crisps and a coke by bringing your own snacks and drinks. Think: airports, museums, and events like concerts. Bring a bottle of water you can refill. There will often be water fountains at airports and museums.
6. Fuel up before you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Try to avoid needing to pay inflated petrol prices by fueling up before you head out on your road trip.