You don’t have to spend your entire life savings to travel! I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve when it comes to getting deals on traveling so it’s only fair to share some of my secrets. Travel doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, catapult you into debt, or be put on hold while you pay for your student loans. As many millennials at the beginning of their careers, being strapped for cash is the norm. I am an associate at a non-profit company, so I’m definitely not rolling in the cash, but I figured out lot’s of ways to afford travel. Here are a few:
- Third party sites. Third party travel points are a god-send. Not only do they allow you to compare prices across platforms, they will usually save you quite a chunk of change. Hotels especially are listed on sites like Trivago, Expedia, and my personal favorite Booking.com as either a marketing tactic for new customers or to simply fill up their rooms last minute. Regardless, both will give you access to a great deal. Many also have free-cancellation leading up to your trip as well as price matching. So, you can book now but then have the option to grab a better deal it you find one.
- Loyalty/Membership Programs. Loyalty programs are not just so you can use coupons at the grocery store. As a member, many third party sites offer special pricing or discounts after a certain number of stays and airlines let you rack up loyalty points. By taking advantage of this. you can benefit from money you’re already spending. Even though a lot of their email pushes seem kind of spammy, quite often you’ll get extra coupon codes which could be just the break you need to make your next trip possible.
- Know the schedules and use them to your advantage. Here’s the rundown: Tuesday afternoons are the best time to buy flights (they’re typically the cheapest), Tuesday and Wednesday are the least expensive days to fly (while Sunday will usually cost the most), and flying around major holidays can seriously affect cost of travel. Thanksgiving and Christmas are notoriously horrendous while New Year’s is surprisingly affordable (unless you’re traveling to New York of course). Whenever possible, take advantage of these “affordability windows”.
- Don’t search constantly & use incognito windows. Especially when it comes to flights, airlines will track how often certain dates and locations are being looked at. As those numbers go up because so does the price. It make seem like checking on that flight will help you grab the lowest price but you’re sabotaging yourself. Use an incognito browser window to check up on it or use an app like Skyscanner or Hopper that will monitor is for you and update you when the price changes.
- A travel card with a points bonus! This is the main reason I have been able to travel so frequently over the last year. I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card and Initially earned a 50,000 bonus. This translated to over $600 in travel credit (which paid for more than half of a trip to LA). Then, I’ve focused all of my spending to that one card. I would be spending the money anyway, so I might as well earn the points. My points alone have earned me a round trip flight from Chicago-Seattle, a Seattle Citypass, $100 cashback, and a round trip flight from Chicago-Boston. It does have a $95 annual fee, but that has already paid for itself tenfold.
- Budget for it. This definitely seems like the lamest tip but it’s definitely the most obvious and straight forward. I have a line in my budget for travel every single month. Even when I’m not actively going anywhere, I am allocating money towards it whenever possible. Some months are easier than others, but it’s still top of mind when it comes to my spending.
What’s your favorite way to find a good travel deal? I’m always looking for things to add to my travel tool kit!