First things first, I must mention that the idea of taking a vacation isn’t limited to heading outside the country.
Traveling within the states or to distant cities and towns where you’ve never been can be just as exciting as venturing abroad.
However, one important factor must be considered no matter what — and that’s how to stretch your money the furthest. Maximizing your time also counts!
In an effort to help you save a few coins and have the most fun, here are my top 10 travel hacks to keep in mind while you plan:
Sign up for frequent flyer programs.
Every time you step foot on an airplane, you ought to be earning miles. Southwest Airlines, hands down, has the best milage program. There’s no blackout dates or hidden fees, and you can always cancel and save your points for later if needed.
From experience, the best time to purchase a flight is on a Tuesday afternoon between 2 P.M. and 6.P.M.
Moreover, Google Flights has an alert system that sends you an email regarding price changes via your saved flight searches. So, as soon as you have an idea on where you want to go, start keeping an eye out!
Try to be flexible with yours days and desired flight times. Exact dates are oftentimes more expensive.
And if you have a job with limited PTO or paid time off, try to coordinate your vacay around the weekend (Thursday night to Monday afternoon, Saturday to Tuesday etc.).
Also, be mindful that sometimes flights scheduled to land in your destination city can be more expensive in comparison to a smaller airport nearby. For example, I wanted to visit Malta for my birthday that’s in October. A roundtrip ticket from D.C. was listed at over $1,200. Instead of splurging, I’m now flying into Madrid for $400 and then hopping on a $30 plane ride to Malta.
If your flight has a layover that’s four hours or longer, try to pick a flight that lands in a city you would have liked to visit anyway.
Think of it as killing two (or three) birds with one stone.
Hotels.com and Booking.com are my go-to websites for choosing where to stay.
Hotels.com is great because with every 10 nights you book, you’re eligible to receive an additional free night.
I consider myself super indecisive (I mean…I am a Libra!), so I’m a huge fan of the flexibility that both sites offer with their “book now, pay later” options. If need to lock in a hotel quick, yet still want to window shop for something else you’re able to do so without penalty.
However, don’t be afraid of hostels.
If you’re as chatty and inquisitive as me, you’ll fall in love! Hostels are always filled with people from every corner of the globe; therefore, you have the opportunity to meet and talk to people you would never blink twice at while staying at a resort.
Book excursions, dinners and other extravagant plans over the phone prior to your trip.
Companies always have promotions and coupons when you seek out their services in advance.
Prepay for everything you can.
That way when you get to your destination, the only thing you have to worry about purchasing is the basics — food, drinks, gifts, etc. Believe me, nothing feels worse or hurts your pockets more than paying for a hotel, Uber rides, food, drinks and nights out all at once.
Lastly, consider traveling alone.
If you wait for friends to book their arrangements, you’ll be waiting forever nine times out of 10. Solo trips are awesome because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, you’re on your own schedule and you get to make new friends!