Ok, maybe partially they are secrets because some of them may be a little embarrassing or perhaps even a little shameful. This is not a budget travel blog by any means. We do our best to save money so we can travel as often as we do, but we are lovers of luxury. Budget motel, what is that? We are all about the four and five star hotels. Not that we get to stay in them all the time but let’s be honest they are our first choice. But in order to stay in these fancy hotels and take lavish trips, we have to cut corners somewhere and over the course of our five year stint of non-stop travel we have picked up a few tricks and here they are in all their shameful glory.
1. I pack food. Is that weird? Maybe a little. But I coupon at home and it’s really hard for me to buy a box of cereal for more than a dollar, so if I know we are going to a hotel that doesn’t have breakfast I pack baggies of cereal or packets of oatmeal. I’ve even been known to check bananas and fixings for a hearty peanut butter sandwich as well. Not to mention tons of snacks for the kids but us as well. Food is one of the items on trips that eats up your travel budget (literally) so whenever I can save a few bucks, I’m going to go for it. Also, this allows us to save our money and eat one really good meal a day at a delicious restaurant vs. three mediocre meals.
2. I pack all the necessities. I mean all the necessities- diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hairspray, etc. Have you ever noticed that in touristy spots the price of these things are usually twice as much as home? It’s true, that’s how they get you. And when you are on vacation you tend to be more lax on your spending not thinking twice about paying $18 for a tube of sunscreen that if you had brought with you would be $10 less. It’s not until you get home that you check your credit card bill and realize things really add up. If you just take the extra time at home to really think things through with your packing you will save a bundle.
3. I do my research and know when to book. I never book travel on a whim. I have my year planned out and I know what trips we are going to take and when. This way I can start looking at flights (read how to really get best deal on airfare) several months out and have the email alerts set up for flight sales. Because I’m all mapped out I can act on these sales and get the most for my money. I have saved hundreds of dollars this way. The same goes with hotels, cruises and even rental cars. I like to book cruises during wave season to get all the perks and the best savings.
4. We travel during the off-season. The off-season is typically from January to the end of May (excluding *shudder* Spring Break when airplanes and resorts are clogged) and then September to Mid January (avoiding Thanksgiving). Everything is cheaper and also less crowded. You wouldn’t believe how big of a difference your timing can make in prices, another reason we map out our travel for the year.
5. Remember how I mentioned I like to coupon? Well I also love sites like Groupon and Living Social. Since I know what travel I’m going to take for the year, I like to check out the different sites for the places I’m going to visit and purchase dining specials, hotel specials, spa packages and tourist attractions. They are often trying to get locals to go to those places but it doesn’t matter where you live, you can buy them too! A great way to experience luxury at a low cost.
What are some of your secrets to save money while traveling? Please share!