Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Guest Post: Creative ways to save money on travel

During a time of a wavering economy, travel seems to be pushed to the bottom of the list in budgeting priorities, especially for young families. Airfare is higher than ever and hotel discounts are becoming more difficult to come by. Traveling is usually an enormous cost, but it doesn’t have to be. The secret starts with a little creativity and some planning.

The beginning of your travel savings starts in the airport. There are many expenses in the airport that can be avoided if you're a savvy traveler. When checking out your ticket, make sure they don’t charge you for premium seating or travel insurance. Extra baggage fees can be avoided if the luggage is kept under the specified weight requirements. If the travel stay is not for an extended period of time, fees can be avoided by bringing what is needed in the carry-on bag only. If traveling with small children, there are no fees for car seats and strollers.

Many times, the most expensive spots are found during the walk from the check-in to the gate. Packing a brown bag lunch and a book or magazine will keep you from over-spending on airport wares. Getting past the obstacle course of security is not so bad as long as you carry an aluminum water bottle of your own. Plastic water bottles are not permitted, however filling up an aluminum bottle of your own can be used both in the airport and throughout the trip. If traveling with children, wait to fill up the bottles until after you are past the security gates to keep from having to dump it as you go through.
The plane ride will be the next opportunity for added fees. Most airlines provide a free snack and one drink of your choice; however, alcoholic beverages are not free. To avoid any additional charges on the plane ride, pack some extra snacks in the bagged lunch to munch on throughout the flight.

Once the plane has landed, don’t call a taxicab right away. Most airports provide free shuttles. For example, if you are flying into San Francisco, you can use one of the shuttles that runs from SFO airport to your next destination. These shuttles run in cycles and are normally very convenient for any given time of flight arrival. Saving on hotel costs can be tricky, but it is possible. Doing some online research at websites like TravelNerd or Expedia can help save on hotel and car rentals when bundled together.

One of the greatest enjoyments when traveling is trying the new food and different restaurants. Rather than spending the money to eat out, find the nearest grocery store and prepare your own breakfast and lunch. Before booking the hotel, call ahead of time and see if they provide continental breakfast to save the cost an additional meal. Whether on a business trip or family vacation, bringing along fresh fruit for snacks is a cheaper and healthier alternative to snacking from a vending machine.

In addition to these common tricks of traveling, there is yet another great way of tacking on more savings by using the Internet. Search online for discount Web sites, Internet coupons and Groupon for savings on all travel expenses. Coupons are a great way to save money and can be found for anything you need or want to do.
Instead of shopping at a hotel store for a missing button on your blazer, search online for Hancock Fabrics coupons and get the benefit of a convenient shopping experience as well as a discounted rate on whatever you purchase. The button will be waiting for you when you get home. Try not to purchase anything from hotel, airport or gift stores if you are budget-conscious.

Search and print off coupons for the restaurants and retail stores in the area, and plan your meals ahead of time. Many times, coupons can be acquired ahead of time, but coupon booklets are also found on racks at local stores. Keep your eyes open.

With a bit of insight and creativity, traveling costs can be minimized and the entire vacation experience becomes more enjoyable knowing you are staying within your budget.

--Sara Stringer is a freelance writer who most enjoys blogging about lifestyle, relationships and life as a woman. In her spare time, she enjoys soaking up the sunshine with her husband and two kids. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article.

[Photos via We Heart It]

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