Tips for Becoming a Frugal Traveler
Here are seven tips that could help you spend less on your next trip:
- [b]Before you embark on a trip to an unknown land, ask your friends, family members, and social media buddies if they know anyone in your destination. They can clue you in on affordable transportation, places to eat and sightseeing opportunities that are light on the wallet. If you come up empty, sites like Couchsurfing.org are also effective ways to contact people and tap into the expertise of those who know their cities and want to accommodate travelers.
- In general, the cheapest flights depart early in the morning and late at night, and Tuesdays and Wednesdays are traditionally the cheapest days to fly [source: Icklan]. Conversely, Saturdays are the most expensive days for international travel, and Sundays are the most expensive for domestic travel [source: Consumer Reports].
- If you're visiting a major city, you can typically save some money by flying to a smaller airport a little farther away. For example, if you're flying to Los Angeles, try booking your trip for Long Beach Airport instead of Los Angeles International Airport [source: Fox].
- You might be able to find a lower rate simply by using a different Web browser. According to a 2011 Consumer Reports experiment, searching for the same itinerary on Expedia.com using Firefox yielded a $718 savings over booking the same trip with Safari. Additionally, some sites can cause the lowest ticket fares to vanish if you check a particular flight more than once -- deleting your browser's cookies may prevent this [source: Baderinwa].
- Call your auto insurance agent before you purchase extra collision coverage on your rental. It's possible that you're already covered [source: Consumer Reports].
- Instead of going out to eat every night, buy your meals from local markets, or ask locals for cheap places to eat. Carry snacks at all times: Seth Kugel notes that when you're hungry in a new place, you're most likely to eat at the first restaurant you see, regardless of how much it costs.
- Use your credit card to pay for your travels. According to Consumer Reports, the Fair Credit Billing Act limits your responsibility for unauthorized credit card charges to $50, a protection not available for cash, debit cards and checks [source: Consumer Reports]. However, make sure you have enough money saved up to pay off the balance for your trip upon your return and avoid interest charges.
While money is obviously a huge factor when you're exploring an unknown corner of the world, it's important to enjoy yourself and gain new experience. If you plan ahead and make some good choices, money will hardly be on your mind. For lots more information on travel and budgeting, see the links below.
- Associated Press. "To Fly or Drive: Which is Cheaper?" MSN.com. (Nov. 25, 2011) http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/TravelForLess/to-fly-or-drive-which-is-cheaper.aspx
- Baderinwa, Sade. "Consumer Reports: Travel-site gotchas." WABC. Feb. 8, 2011. (Nov. 24, 2011) http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/consumer&id=7944923
- Consumer Reports. "Cheap Travel: 10 Ways to Save." January 2009. (Nov. 24, 2011) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/travel/planning-a-trip/overview/planning-a-trip-ov.htm
- Costello, Caroline. "The 7 Cheapest Ways to Travel." MSNBC.com. Mar. 10, 2009. (Nov. 23, 2011) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29557424/ns/travel-travel_tips/t/cheapest-ways-travel/#.TtvxWEoRa9R
- Dooling, Annemarie. "2011's Cheap Travel Destinations: Go Big on a Budget." AOL Travel News. Feb. 16, 2011. (Nov. 24, 2011) http://news.travel.aol.com/budget/2011s-cheap-travel-destinations-go-big-on-a-budget/
- Fox, Porter. "Cheap Flights." Outsideonline.com. July 18, 2011. (Nov. 25, 2011) http://www.outsideonline.com/blog/adventure-travel/cheap-flights.html
- Gross, Matt. "Research: The Traveler's Best Friend." NYTimes.com. May 6, 2009. (Nov. 25) http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/research-the-travelers-best-friend/
- Gross, Matt. "Three Things I've Learned About Frugal Travel (and the Things I Didn't Do)." NYTimes.com. May 25, 2010. (Nov. 25, 2011) http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/three-things-ive-learned-about-frugal-travel-and-the-things-i-didnt-do/
- Gross, Matt. "Trailing Disasters: Savings, but at What Price?" NYTimes.com. Apr. 27, 2010. (Nov. 25, 2011) http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/trailing-disasters-savings-but-at-what-price/
- Icklan, Jennifer. "Tips on Finding Cheaper Airfares." CNN Money. May 16, 2011. (Nov. 27, 2011) http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/16/pf/saving/Fly_for_less_this_summer
- Kugel, Seth. Author, Frugal Traveler blog. Personal interview. Nov. 30, 2011.
- National Public Radio. "Family Road Trip: The Cheapest Way to Travel." May 25, 2007. (Nov. 27, 2011) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10451415
- O'Neill, Sean. "10 Most Useful Travel Websites." Puget Travel. Sept. 1, 2011. (Nov. 23, 2011) http://www.budgettravel.com/feature/10-most-useful-travel-websites,7671/
- Stellin, Susan. "Rental Car Roulette." The New York Times. Sept. 12, 2011. (Nov. 25, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/business/97-in-new-york-but-40-in-las-vegas-making-sense-of-car-rentals.html?_r=1
- Wyckoff, Whitney Blair. "Nine Tips to Travel Cheap (but Not Stupid)." National Public Radio. Aug. 9, 2009. (Nov. 23, 2011) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111595511