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Traveling cheap isn’t easy, but there are definitely ways of doing it. For those who are sick of paying five times the price of your friend’s flight to the same, fear not, because, as expensive (and exhausting) as the world of airline travel and finding the best way to save money on flight tickets may seem, it’s an easier puzzle to crack than most may think with a little up-front planning and research.
If you know where to look and have a little bit of tech-savvy, you can, not only save time and cash, but you can also save a ton of aggravation. And to help with all of this, we reached out to world-renowned trends expert and professional speaker Scott Steinberg, who wants to make sure you're traveling cheap and headache free!
Scott Steinberg, the founder of travel and nightlife magazine SELECT: Your City’s Secrets Unlocked, as well as an author of a number of books, knows a thing or two about traveling. So, naturally, with the spring and summer approaching and more and more of us (hopefully) heading on vacation, we needed to pick his brain to see what secrets he could give about traveling cheap — because we all deserve that.
This goes for both when or where you go for your travel plans. If you can only take your vacation when school isn’t in session (or your kids aren’t in school), you’ll be taking your vacation during peak times, when prices are at a premium — and won’t gain the advantages of myriad flight and hotel sales which occur in September or January. But, if you’re about to bend a little in terms of timing — even if it means going on a Wednesday, or pushing your trip out just a couple weeks after Spring Break — you may enjoy large savings. Likewise, be open to considering alternate destinations (e.g. the beaches in Mexico may be just as fun, but much cheaper, than those in Bermuda), last-minute flash travel deals or package escapes from providers like Apple vacations.
Stay Off The Beaten Path
For example, booking a hotel just a few blocks away from the beach (the same one your friends are paying a bundle to stay right next to, even though it’s the difference of just a five-minute walk) can help you save big. Likewise, destinations looking to boost tourism and interest — e.g. Ecuador or Puerto Rico — may offer better deals than more traditional getaways. Similarly, look for value-priced escapes in cities that you’re planning to visit, because most folks will spend only a small percentage of time in a room anyway, and can save on four-star accommodations by finding affordable alternatives. Just be sure they’re housed in a safe and convenient location.
Consider Renting A Room In An AirBnb Or Homestay
Use Airbnb.com or Homestay.com to find a cheaper room — or an entire house. Choose wisely, however, as some of the more spectacular apartments or condos (or castles) on these sites might be as expensive as a hotel room. Look for venues with the highest rating — and from the largest number of people. Similarly, don’t be afraid to check out hostels in the area, some of which may be surprisingly upscale, and a great fit for solo travelers looking to meet people, or hit Couchsurfing.com if you’re adventurous and just need a couch to crash on for the evening. Also, don’t forget to check out apps like Hotel Tonight (great for finding a last-minute hotel room from unsold inventory) if you’re stuck or just crash-landing in a city overnight as well.
Compare Flight Prices On Various Travel Websites
Aggregators like Kayak.com, CheapOAir.com and Momondo.com can help. You can also sign up for travel alerts and newsletters through places like Bookingbuddy.com, Kayak.com and Travelzoo.com. Apps like Hopper can also come in handy, letting you track fluctuating ticket prices and best times to travel, even allowing you to receive alerts when deals pop up.
Check The City's Convention Center For Specials
Before you hit the road, hit their website for special deals and coupons, and to see what new attractions are being promoted in the area — you may find several options on discount. You can also call these providers for personal recommendations on restaurants, markets, etc. Pro tip: A phone call to various five-star hotel concierges (e.g. at the Ritz or Four Seasons; they’ll just assume you’re a guest) can also help yield all sorts of helpful time and money-saving insights.
Ask yourself: Can you save money by taking a road trip? Crunch the numbers, and you may be surprised with how far a single tank of gas can take you.
Avoid Car Rentals
Depending on your destination, plan on getting around by using public transportation, rent-a-bike-stops in town, or by using local services like Uber and Lyft to get rides only when and where you need them. Car sharing providers like Maven and ZipCar can also prove a godsend.
This is important, whether you’re driving or flying, as it’s much more affordable to bring your own food up-front — and if you’re visiting various ballparks and theme parks, some may even let you bring food and drink in. Airport/destination restaurants and kiosks, rest stops and gas stations sell nuts, chips and sandwiches, but they're much more expensive than what you get at home on your own time and at your own convenience.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
Load up your tablet or PC with games, movies and music before hitting the door, or bring a portable DVD player and your family’s favorite flicks along for the ride instead of relying on the in-flight movie or hotel’s in-room entertainment.
Avoid Tourist-Trap Restaurants
Check out Yelp and TripAdvisor to find more value-priced destinations. And, don’t forget to ask a concierge or driver for dining recommendations.
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