Stay Consistent To Earn Points
My husband travels A LOT for work. It sucks, but the one great thing that comes out of it is that he consistently flies, drives, and stays with the same companies so he racks up tons of points that we can use for our personal travel! For flying he uses Southwest, which I love because they allow 2 free bags and still give snacks (no shame). Last year he even got so many points that I had a companion pass and could fly anywhere with him the whole year for free! We used this a TON. Unfortunately he did not qualify for that again this year, but for our trip to the East Coast coming up in October we got over $1200 worth of plane tickets for free with his points!
Utilize Sites That Surprise You
Hotwire is the most popular site that offers "hot deals", but I've seen other travel sites start to offer this. Essentially, hotels can predict when their slow times will be and offer through third party travel sites discounts on their hotel but do not disclose what the hotel is until you have paid. This is in case someone wants to book this hotel intentionally and still pays the full rate. The down fall is that the stay in nonrefundable, but if you are certain you will be traveling at this time it is not a big deal! They still give you an idea of where the hotel is and how many stars it is rated, and will even tell you what hotel the last person who booked this deal got. And 100% of the times for me we have gotten that hotel! We got an amazing hotel in South Beach, Miami for half the price with this!
Plan Ahead And Use Groupon
Looooove me some Groupon. Whether it is for activities, spa services, getaways, or a dinner for two, you can always save some money if you look ahead. 99.9% of Groupons require a reservation and/or certain dates that it can be used, so make sure to read the fine print and look ahead for excursions you want to do. Currently looking up jet ski and boats rentals for our upcoming Florida trip!
Overbooked = Your Friend
True story: A couple of years ago, Bjorn and I were flying back from Europe and had a layover in New Jersey. We were flying United (I know I mentioned earlier we stick to Southwest, but they don't fly to Germany!) and our flight from New Jersey to LA was cancelled. They rebooked us for a flight the next morning, but low and behold the flight was overbooked. We already had to take off an extra day of work because of the initial cancellation, so when the United worker went over the intercom and offered $500 in United credit to take a later flight we decided to go for it. Not only did we get a combined $1000 in United money + food vouchers while we waited, but they also bumped us up to first class for our next flight! It was 4 hours of luxury and I didn't want to get off the plane! Not only was the flight back amazing, but we used our United credit towards another first class flight in the future. If you are not under a time crunch I recommend taking a desperate airline worker up on their offer.
Sometimes You Need To Pay Up
Sometimes when traveling, it pays to cough up more money. Example #1: read the fine print when renting a rental car. Most rental car companies don't allow additional drivers unless you pay for them (Budget does allow married couples though!) so if you are wanting to share the driving duties make sure to pay the extra money. If something happens while the other driver is behind the wheel you will have to pay all the damages! Also when it comes to rental cares, some will charge a "loss of use" if something happens to the car and it needs repairs. I.E. you will be paying the day rate for the car while it is being repaired! The auto insurance we use for our personal cars also covers rental cars, but we recently found out it does not cover "loss of use" so you may want to pay for the additional coverage offered by the rental car company if they charge a "loss of use" fee.
Example #2: if for any reason you think your trip may for the slightest reason not happen, you may want to pay for the travel insurance. Most airline fares, especially international that are not purchased through the airline directly, are nonrefundable or you will not get back a certain percentage. We have paid as little as $20 to refund our $1000+ flight in the case something happens.
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- Marie Claire, September 2016