Whether you like to take lots of quick 3-day weekends or fewer but longer trips, there are clever, creative strategies for saving on travel. My guest is Chrissy Pate, who runs the savings website BeCentsable.net and co-wrote the book of the same name. Chrissy has been featured on Good Morning America, The Early Show, and many more and we’re lucky to have her here on Easy Money. Welcome, Chrissy!
Let’s whet people’s appetites: what percentage would you say you save on your family’s travel with the tips we’re about to share?
It’s easy to save 50% with a little bit of planning!
Is it better to book early or book at the last minute to save money?
Booking early is usually a better way to save. BUT if you wait to book until just 5-7 days before you plan to travel, that can yield big savings too, especially if airline seats are undersold.
Another timing question: why is it important to research the high and low seasons for places you want to go?
It’s common to save up to 50 percent by traveling in the off-season. I’ve learned that THE cheapest air travel season is the two weeks after Thanksgiving, so if you can travel then, that’s great.
What are the cheapest days of the week to fly?
Typically, (though not always), mid-week is best. So for example, departing on a Wednesday and returning on a Tuesday.
Do you find it useful to sign up for airline emails? Or is it just more junk in your inbox?
I do find value in a few airlines’ emails because I get notice of fare specials and other offers. Sometimes they will drop fares dramatically for a short period of time, so be on the look out.
You say you need to go beyond using big websites like Travelocity and Orbitz to book airline tickets. Why?
Some regional airlines like Allegiant and Southwest don’t submit their fares to those sites. And they can have great deals! So you should check sites individually of any airline that flies to your destination.
What’s your top tip for saving on rental cars?
My favorite tip is to use reward points to book rental cars.
And how about a good tip for saving on hotel rooms?
And know the details of the program!
But maybe your favorite way of saving on a hotel room is not to book a hotel room, right?
Yes, we love booking rental houses for our vacations. Here are some keys to getting the right keys:
—Book early —like 9m months early.
—In addition to sites like VRBO and AirBnB, try bidding on vacation rentals on eBay.
—Try to rent through an individual owner instead of an agency. You can often negotiate with the owners.
—If you REALLY want to save: ask if they will waive the cleaning fee if you clean the property yourself.
Now let’s talk about saving on the activities you do on vacation. Tell us about reciprocity programs.
If you are a member of your local zoo, art museum or other attraction, you may be able to get free passes to visit another city’s attraction. These reciprocity programs exist for many:
—zoos and aquariums
—Science and technology centers
—And botanical gardens.
You also have a warning about deals on activities that aren’t really deals.
Find out what the regular price is before you book that “good deal.” Many times companies will say ‘kids sail free or half off’ but then the regular price is marked up so you aren’t getting as good a deal as you thought.
And, finally, souvenirs! Kids, especially, always want souvenirs. What’s your trick for those?
Take Disney for example: Many national chain stores like —Target, CVS and Walmart— will carry the SAME products sold at travel gift shops for half the price. You can buy the souvenirs before you leave home or once you get there. Give the items to your kids as you enjoy your trip and they don’t even have to know you didn’t buy them at the pricy souvenir shop on the grounds of the attraction.