Just Returned From → Golden & Invermere, British Columbia. Headed To → Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

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Five Awesome Tips to Save Money on Travel

Image of Money

The best travellers are frugal travellers — here are my 5 tips to save money on your next vacation.

In This Budget Travel Article You Will Discover:

  • How to Get “Locals Only” Deals
  • How to Get Free Hotel Stays & Car Rentals
  • How To Effectively Comparison Shop for Airfares
  • And More!

Travel is expensive — but the best travellers are frugal travellers. Every dollar you save on your trip is a dollar you can put towards the next one, or, money that you can use to enjoy globetrotting luxuries you may have thought were out of your reach. Without further delay, here are five tips on how to save money — and travel better:

1. Get a Baseline for Your Airline

When you begin your flight-booking process, start by checking major online suppliers — Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz — even if you don’t normally use them. This is important for two reasons: first, major suppliers tend to offer low flight prices. But second, and more importantly, finding Expedia’s lowest price, for example, will give you a baseline. If you can find it for lower – pull out the credit card… you know you’ve got a deal. Conversely, you can use it as a bargaining chip when speaking with travel agents. “Well, I found it on Flight Network for less…” I am a big fan of the real-live travel agent, but everyone has to be competitive.

2. Group-Coupon Shopping

I’ll give credit to my wife, Erin, for this idea: buy coupons for cities you intend on visiting! Groupon, for example, is an online coupon service that sells vouchers for a wide variety of products and services in various cities around North America (half-off hotels, dinners, spa products, tours, gym memberships, etc.). Most people sign up for deals in their hometown (like we did), but we now sign up for deals in cities we plan on visiting as well. Half-off hotels in Boston? Thirty-dollar gift certificate for a great restaurant in New York for only $15? Sounds like a traveller’s dream come true.

3. When a Deal Isn’t One

Let me just say, I love America. It’s their airlines I take issue with. (Some of them anyway.) Discount airlines such as Delta, American Airlines, United, Alaska and others will force you to pay fees for any checked baggage… which, with today’s security restrictions, is difficult not to have. Also, keep in mind that longer flights on premium airlines (Cathay Pacific, for example) will often serve meals when shorter flights on discount airlines won’t. So if you can save a bit of money by booking with a discount carrier and having three connections, make sure you factor in all the related costs before you book. For example, if American Airlines offers a flight from Vancouver to New York for $450 (with a connection), but Cathay Pacific offers it non-stop for $500 — once you factor in AA’s luggage fees ($20 for the first bag — each way) and the fact that Cathay will feed you for free, the more expensive flight may actually prove cheaper.

4. Pick & Choose!

I often end up flying one way with one airline, then returning on another. Don’t let airlines bully you into choosing them for the entire return trip. It’s up to you to find the cheapest flight every step of the way. Websites such asExpedia will often do this for you, but even when you book direct, don’t be afraid buy two one-way flights on rival airlines. Let them compete for your hard-earned cash!

5. Give Yourself Credit

Use your credit card 365 days per year — or more specifically, acquire a no-fee Visa, Mastercard or American Express that offers rewards points and use it for everything — groceries, bills, movies, dining, even coffee! Then, cash in the rewards points you accumulate for hotel stays, car rentals, restaurant gift certificates and more. (I find actual flights to be the least cost-effective way to spend rewards points, frankly.) Just the other day I got a free, three-day car rental by cashing in a few Airmiles I had accumulated on everyday purchases. Note: be wary of annual fee cards… some are good, others will stick you with fees high enough to offset any points you’ll ever earn. (Just remember to pay your full balance every month, or your interest fees will, again, offset your points’ savings.)

What’s your favourite money-saving tip?

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Post image from Dreamstime.com

About the author: David Webb is a Vancouver, BC-based travel writer, photographer and magazine editor.

4 comments… add one
  • David Webb Jul 22, 2013 Link

    Sure, it’s my blog, so I can do what ever I want… ha ha. In your case, I’d look for a card that gives you cash-back on purchases. Cash is always good… but the main trick to taking advantage of fee-based cards is that you have to use them constantly, and always pay them off with every statement. Occasional use and/or carrying a balance will negate their advantages quickly. Good luck with your RTW, sounds awesome!

  • Great post – I always can appreciate a good money-saving travel article! Quick question about the credit cards.. we are about to embark on a RTW motorcycle trip and thus, don’t need the airmiles or car rentals. Can you recommend another card that has other perks that may be of interest to us? Are you allowed to name by name?

    Thanks so much!!

  • revo Nov 12, 2010 Link

    Starting Jan 1, Westjet & Air Can will be charging for 2 bags….!!!!!

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