10 smart ways to save money while traveling.
Can’t always follow ‘plan and book early’ principle? Is it difficult for you to finalize travel plan well early and stick to it come what may? If so then you are a traveler like me and below simple guidelines will help you to save money while travelling without following ‘plan and book early’.
I do not disagree with the above said principle but in my opinion it is an overrated factor which doesn’t always work for me. However, many times several of below guidelines have helped me to save some bucks on travel.
1. Do it online
Do all your journey stages online. From air ticket booking to flight check in and hotel reservation to local travel itinerary. Why? Because its cheaper. Companies encourage you to transact online and give discounts in return because it is low cost sales channel for them.
|Tip:||A day before travelling to Switzerland, I checked price of ‘4 day Swiss travel pass’ on Swiss travel system website. But I just traveled without buying it thinking that price will be same at Geneva station. Surprisingly the pass was 30% cheaper online than I paid at SBB sales office.|
|Tip:||Some airlines give instant awards if you book online. You can get up to 2,000 bonus miles if you book online with Qatar Airways.
http://www.qatarairways.com/global/en/offers/bonus-qmiles.pageMany airlines even give bonus miles if you do check-in through web because it reduces the queue at check-in counters.
2. Choose private hosts instead of hotels
You can save lot of money by finding private hosts who have space to accommodate you. Thousands of individuals around the world list their properties, from private rooms to entire villas, for short and long term occupancy. Such people are called hosts and offer prices much less than hotels and hostels.
Air BnB is one such place where you can find hosts of your’s choice at your favorite destination. I encourage you to check the legality of such kind of model which varies from place to place as renting out private properties is not legal everywhere.
3. Blind booking
You can get much cheaper flight tickets if you let airline choose your destination based on your preferred theme of travel. This booking model gives you freedom to choose dates and theme of travel e.g., culture, hiking, adventure, party etc. Then keeping the surprise till end of booking .i.e., payment, your allocated destination is revealed. You can’t change such ticket usually.
Air fare can be too low if you are flexible to go with this model.
Some popular sites offering blind booking are:
4. Stay and eat free
You can get free accommodation, food and opportunity to befriend nature in exchange of your volunteer help. There are people who need helping hands on their organic farms. They are willing to accommodate you freely if you can voluntarily work with them in return. WWOOF is a platform which can connect you to such farmers by choosing the country where you like to visit.
This is right platform for you if you want to take a break and spend time in nature’s lap as you will be staying, eating and working with farmers.
5. Use public transport smartly
Using public transport is always cheaper. Instead of buying individual journey tickets, buy days-bound passes which offer unlimited travel and are usable on multiple modes of transport. Look for specific week days when the fares are low and plan your trip accordingly.
|Tip:||This year in Sydney, I bought a family day pass for $5 which was valid for unlimited journey of 5 passengers on train, tram and ferry for entire Sunday.|
|Tip:||Once I bought 4 days Swiss travel pass in Switzerland which offered unlimited travelling in Switzerland, 50% discounts on cable cars, 30% discount on train ticket to Italy and free entry to many museums.|
|Tip:||In Dubai you can get free journey on train, buses and water taxis on public transport day. Also many buses and shuttle transfers to tourist attractions are free on new year and other festivals.|
6. Look for smart deals
Small merchants prefer to give out at a cheaper rate rather than ending unsold at all. As an example, you can find such last minute deals using ‘Value Deals’ option at booking.com
|Tip:||During my last night stay in Amsterdam, I booked a family apartment in Fuldatel, Germany. It was just few hours before check-in time which costs only around 60 euros per night using the value deal option.|
7. Use tools to compare prices
Everyone does comparison before buying. Instead of doing it manually, use free online tools that do great job. Below websites compare prices of many airlines, hotels and car rentals and generate list of best possible options. Just tell the website where and when you want to travel and you will see the list. Then pick the cheapest one.
8. Join loyalty program
It pays back slowly but surely and one day can get you a free air ticket. Just become a frequent flyer member of your preferred airline and you will start earning points each time you fly. You can then use these points for air tickets as well as on retails, hotels, car rentals etc.
|Tip:||Look for airlines which are part of alliances or have many loyalty partners as it will provide you broader network to earn and redeem points.
For example, if you belong to a frequent flyer program offered by any Star Alliance member airline, and fly with another member airline, you can earn points in one card. You can use your points to buy tickets or upgrade across 28 member airlines.
9. Currency changing
During my recent trip to Philippines, a money exchange agent at Dubai airport suggested a unique way to save extra bucks on currency exchange. First buy USD from airport duty free exchange (buying USD is cheaper there) and then buy local currency from these USDs from any exchange at destination (selling USD gives good rate in open market).
10. Go social:
Connect to travel companies over social media. Many of them release hot deals directly on their social channels. “Like” them on facebook and “follow” on them twitter and you will get notified instantly of such offerings. There are even complete freebies for first few likers.