Traveling can be fun. But it also can be hard and very expensive. On the wave of New Year’s resolutions, we want to share with you a few tricks and ideas to help you save some money, avoid difficulties and maybe visit some exotic destinations you always dreamed about.
There are two basic types of travelers – those willing to pay any amount of money and have everything done for them, and those who seek a memorable experience within their budget. We hope this article will be helpful for all of you.
Make Your Traveling Plans in Advance
Although not everyone is able to plan a vacation way in advance, it is the best way to save some money. You can start planning your holiday today, by searching for plane tickets and hotels.
During your research write down the prices you find, since you may want such statistics for comparison in the future. Also, keep notes so you know where you found the best prices.
You may want to begin with using a search engine – such as Expedia or Google.
Before you book a hotel, check out the hotel reviews on different websites such as Tripadvisor. Note the date when each review was written to learn, for example, if construction/renovation is taking place at a hotel or there are transportation problems.
You may find on Expedia and other sites that a hotel can be reserved in advance at no cost with free cancellation.
Consider what you will be doing during your stay and visit the necessary websites. If a highlight of your trip will be visiting a museum (such as the Louvre in Paris) or a historic site (the Alhambra in Granada, Spain), go directly to their website. Today we went to the Louvre’s website and saw a notice reading: “Due to public strikes, the museum may open later and some exhibition rooms may remain closed”. Therefore, more research will be needed. We also learned from Tripadvisor reviews that it is wise to reserve (in advance of your arrival in Spain) your timed visit to the Alhambra, and it is cheaper to do so directly from the Alhambra’s website than having your hotel concierge make the reservation for you.
“The earlier the cheaper and try to be flexible” — these are the main rules for finding hotels and airfares at the best prices. According to FareCompare.com, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are the least expensive days for domestic travel in the USA. We have observed the same pattern for flights in the EU zone. On the other hand, Fridays and Sundays are the most expensive days to fly. Keep that in mind when you start planning and remember our second tip: flexibility on your part is very important. (Also, buying a round-trip ticket can be cheaper at times than purchasing a one-way ticket. If you need a round-trip plane ticket, including a Saturday night stay in your plans will reduce the cost most of the time.)
Train or Plane?
If you are not a fan of airplanes, you can always explore different transportation options. While train travel in the USA is not always the best choice, if you travel in Europe you can buy a rail pass for one country, adjoining nations or a larger group.
If you are an EU citizen, look for the offers at interrail.eu, while everybody else should go to raileurope-world.com. Many countries in Europe, like Switzerland, have great infrastructure, so buying a multi-day rail pass may be the best option. Rail passes differ from one country to another, so you must look into the details. The Swiss Pass, for example, also includes a museum pass at no extra charge (for non-EU travelers), some trips by boat and it is valid for buses and trams in major cities across Switzerland. Amazing views throughout your journey are another big advantage of train travel.
Traveling is an art of planning
What is the best time to take your holiday? Our answer is: during the off-season when the weather is not extreme. Unless you do not mind crowds, try to avoid the most touristed months for your destination. Obviously traveling during peak holiday seasons will increase the cost of hotels, airfare and everything in general.
While booking a hotel there are several tricks. If you plan to stay for at least 4 days in a large city, consider switching hotels in order to choose the least expensive options, and consider the convenience in terms of proximity to the place you most wanted to visit. In addition, when you look for hotel prices look at a variety of options, such as staying for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days at one property – the daily rate may decrease for a longer stay.
Friends With Benefits
Loyalty is a quality you often look for in other people. It’s also something that companies can reward you for.
For example, most airlines offer you special frequent flyer programs, like Miles & More or Mileage Plus, where you get extra points for your flights. If you travel a lot, you may even gain privileges like extra luggage at no charge and priority boarding. You can also redeem your points for a free ticket!
Museums also have an offer for you! If you would like to come back to the same museum multiple times during your trip (or even during a year), you may be interested in buying the museum membership. It allows you unlimited entry for a year and, in certain museums, you may even bring a guest for free! For people who love museums you may also consider purchasing a membership with reciprocal benefits. Even though it is more expensive, it will allow entry to numerous museums. For example, look at the advantages of reciprocal membership at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada.
The bigger cities also offer museum passes that include tickets for most of the museums, sight views and other attractions in the city for a certain period of time. City passes may or may not be the best option, so please do your own research.
Research is your friend
Hotel rooms, airplane fares and even train tickets are priced based on demand. Prices change constantly, so whatever you read on the Internet may not be relevant 2 seconds later (yes!). In order to get the best deals, you need to do some research on your own. Even the most popular places can close unexpectedly or be too crowded to enjoy, or weather conditions can make your experience either memorable or awful. Remember, popular events may get sold out completely. You can avoid unpleasant surprises and stress by purchasing in advance tickets to the places you want to visit the most.
If you have special traveling experiences and tips that will help others, please share your recommendations with our readers. You may also want to visit our other posts about Amsterdam or Paris, if you are thinking about traveling there soon!