Flying for Less: Don’t Blow Your Vacation Budget Before You Arrive2 min read
Someone once told me the best money you can spend is money spent on traveling. While it’s true that there is nothing quite like the indescribable experience of traveling and seeing the world, it usually comes with a hefty price tag. It’s not hard to decide where you want to visit—the difficult part is not emptying your bank account on the way there!
Here are some tips for making your dollars stretch as far as possible as you circle the globe.
Book Well in Advance and Shop Around
The biggest expense of any trip is usually the plane ticket. And as I’m sure you already know, the closer to your departure date, the more expensive the plane ticket. So it almost goes without saying that it is best to book your tickets weeks, if not months in advance. While it might seem like less of a hassle to just buy the first tickets you like, don’t forgo websites like Expedia—it’s worth the extra research to save a little money.
Avoid the Busiest Travel Days
Don’t forget that flying on busy travel days, like weekends and Mondays, are usually more expensive as well. If you can work it with your travel plans, flying midweek is always a cheaper alternative. And if you have the extra time, flying with a connection is also another less expensive option to booking a direct flight.
Airports Selection and Parking Matter, Too
On the same note, flights out of bigger airports are cheaper but if you don’t live near one, the long drive and ridiculous charges for parking your car can add up, making your travel more expensive from the get-go. Airlines like United usually offer a free shuttle from local airports to larger hubs if you purchase their airfare.
But if you absolutely must drive to the airport and leave your car there, make sure you do a web search for satellite parking lots. Hotels around the airport usually offer extended stay parking for a third of the cost of leaving your car at the airport—AND have a free shuttle to the airport.
Carry-on Your Way to Cheaper Flights
Another unnecessary expense is checking a bag. Most international flights come with one free checked bag; most domestic flights do not. If you can avoid checking a bag, you can save yourself around $50. The carry-on allowance is no more than 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches. Those numbers may have no meaning to you, so in simple terms: that is a decent size suitcase! In fact, I’ve traveled to Europe TWICE with that size suitcase (once for 15 days and once for 10). You can maximize this space by finding a suitcase with many compartments, rolling up your clothes instead of folding them, and using space bags! PLUS, you can still bring a “personal item,” which can actually be a decently sized tote bag (more storage!).
Lastly, do your research on inexpensive flights. Some airlines offer ridiculously cheap airfare to lure you in but then add so many fees that your final cost ends up being just as much as all the other airlines. Always read policies about additional fees when booking a flight.