Another year of recession means that most people will probably opt to stay home again rather than booking their annual vacation travel. But just because you’re keeping the belt tight doesn’t mean you have to spend another boring summer filling the kiddie pool in your yard and playing the “wave” soundtrack so that you can pretend you’re on a sun-drenched shore. All you really need to do is take advantage of some of the many tips and tools that will help on the best ways to travel on the cheap.
Best Ways to Travel on the Cheap
Here are a few you may want to try.
Okay, everyone knows that they’re supposed to book early. And yet, so few of us do. We wait until the last minute and end up paying the price (literally). But if you want to save on travel expenses in 2012, resolve now to get going on your travel plans. If you book now for summer or even holiday travel later in the year, you’ll give family and friends plenty of time to plan around your schedule and you’ll save a ton of money on tickets. Of course, you also have the option of holding out for sales since you’re so far ahead of the curve.
Look for red-eyes.
Believe it or not, the time of day your flight takes off can make a drastic difference in the price of your ticket. So, if you’re comfortable sleeping on a plane, then plan to get some shut-eye on your red-eye. Aside from the obvious bonus of sleeping through the whole flight and arriving at your destination fresh (more or less), you stand to save beaucoup bucks in the process. This is an especially useful tactic for long-haul flights.
Get a guide.
Airfare is expensive, but it isn’t the only cost of travel, and if you’re taking an extended trip, it will probably come in second to other necessities like lodgings, food, and transportation. However, you are not the first trekker to travel these trails, so get yourself a helpful (and current) guidebook for the region you’re visiting so that you can compare ratings and prices before you go. You may be able to get such texts for free if you are a member of AAA, you can probably find discounts on Amazon, or you can simply go to websites like Lonely Planet and Frommer’s for all the information you need (and many now have apps!).
With just about every airline now charging for checked bags, it behooves you to find ways to travel light. So pack clothing that is lightweight and wrinkle-resistant whenever possible, look for items that are multipurpose (like a jersey-knit maxi-dress that rolls up and goes from day to night, or cargo pants that zip off at the knees to become shorts), and bring the absolute minimum number of shoes (one pair for walking, one for fancier fare, if you need them).
If you haven’t heard of this awesome travel website yet then 2012 is the year to sign up. Membership is free and all you do is create a profile that includes your many rewards programs, including airline, hotel, and travel rewards credit cards. Then, when you want to book travel, you go to TravelWise, enter your dates and destination, and let the program find you the cheapest bookings based on the miles you have accumulated. It will populate a listing of the best prices along with the price you’ll pay after you use your points – and you may even get your travel for free!