With 2017 right around the corner, why not make some travel resolutions to improve your next vacation? Our PHL parking company found 16 money-saving resolutions from Forbes that can help you do just that:
Make the Most of Flash Travel Sales
1. Follow your favorite airlines on Twitter, to capitalize on last-minute sales. This works especially well at the end of the year, when airlines are trying to get rid of extra inventory.
2. Sign up for alerts on specific routes with tools like Airfarewatchdog or Hopper. That way, when tickets to Aruba go on sale in March, you’ll be ready.
3. Want to get away right away? Use websites like MightyTravels to book last minute fares. This is a great tactic if you are location agnostic, as sometimes airlines need to sell a lot of tickets in a short amount of time. MightyTravels lists last minute sales all over the world.
4. Search on platforms like Skyscanner or KAYAK, where you can keep a location flexible. For example, if you’re interested in going to the Caribbean, the best deal might be to Aruba, not the Dominican Republic.
5. Or, get really flexible. Travel hacker Sam Huang who writes at TopMiles says, “I know everyone says to search flexible dates, but most of the tools out there are quite basic plus. The best place to look for cheap fares is to use Google’s power matrix tool, which allows you to choose a ‘calendar of lowest fares’ and specify a range of dates and different airports within driving distance. Instead of a range of a few days, the search tool can look up every single flight combination for up to 30 days!”
Last year, Huang snagged a $60,000 first-class flight for $300.
Pick a Loyalty Program and Card
6. Earning points on travel is an easy way to stretch your dollars. If you fly a bunch of different carriers, consider using a credit card like ChaseSapphire Preferred or Capital One VentureOne, as you earn points on any travel purchases and can put them towards multiple airlines.
7. Pick a points credit card based on your spending patterns.
“Find the right card for you, not just the one from a favorite travel brand. Picking the right card means picking a card that earns high rewards on your spending and gives you useful rewards,” says Sean McQuay, Credit and Banking Expert at NerdWallet. “Too many people pick a credit card based on the end goal – miles with a favorite airline, for example – while ignoring the fact that those cards will earn a rather low rewards rate based on their shopping patterns.”
8. If you are loyal to one airline, sign up for their credit card to snag perks like free checked bags, lounge access or priority boarding. It’s time to jet set in style.
9. Sign up for a hotel loyalty program. Even if you don’t spend enough time on the road to get a free stay, you’re more likely to get upgrades or free breakfast and WiFi if you’re a member of a program. Free WiFi sounds like a great travel resolution for 2017.
10. While you’re at it, sign up for a budget airline program based on your region. Budget travel blogger Katie Dawes of The Hostel Girl says, “You might not be able to collect frequent flyer points on airlines such as EasyJet and Wizz Air. But you can sign up for EasyJet Plus or the Wizz Air Discount Club, both of which offer flight discounts and the option for extra hand baggage completely free or at a discount. The cost works out in the long run!”
After graduating university, Dawes moved to Budapest to work in a hostel where she caught the travel bug. The millennial hasn’t looked back since then.
11. Although rewards programs generally require you to book in advance, airline award space can open up at the last minute. Huang recommends checking for international travel four days before departure. He says, “if the prices are sky high, make sure to check how much mileage it will cost.”
When You’re Abroad, Manage Your Money Better
12. Forget about exchanging money: withdraw cash on arrival. Andrew Malay a financial advisor at Cassady and Company says, “In most scenarios, it makes much more sense to wait until you arrive at your destination to withdrawal money. The Travelex kiosk that you see at every major international airport typically charges a 5 t0 10 percent (or greater) premium on the exchange rate compared to your local bank branch.”
He recommends waiting until a city center to withdraw a large sum of money and to try to find a larger, global bank if yours isn’t available.
13. VAT it up for serious savings.
“When traveling to foreign countries part of the fun is buying souvenirs. What many of my client’s forget about is they are paying a VAT (Value-Added Tax) on most goods that ranges from 15 to 25 percent throughout European Union countries,” says Malay. “As a non-EU citizen, you are typically allowed to get a refund for any VAT paid on merchandise. ”
When you are buying your bespoke Italian suit in Rome, save the receipt and make sure that the retailer fills out a tax free form.
“When you arrive at the airport stop by the customs office to get your ‘tax free form’ stamped then head to a refund office to get your money,” says Malay. “These simple steps can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on your shopping spree!”
14. Book direct. Whether it is an airline or a hotel, booking direct is often less expensive and, with accommodation, makes you more eligible for things like room upgrades.
15. Have at least one credit card that has no foreign transaction fees. This is a killer when you are traveling abroad, as the average credit card typically will add around 3 percent to all purchases.
Stay Current and Get Crafty
16. This year saw Brexit and the American election – both of which had currencies hurtling up and down, in addition to flight deals. Political events affect travel prices, so keep current and snag a last-minute deal. Try to avoid coups, though.
17. If you are traveling for a longer time, forget about hotels. Travel blogger Edna Zhou behind Expat Edna opts for Airbnb instead. “I’ll also message Airbnb hosts to see if they have any discounts for longer-term stays. It never hurts to ask for a discount – at worst they’ll just say no,” says Zhou.
A digital nomad, Zhou lives on the road and uses money saving travel tips like these to stretch her dollars further, so she can jet set in style when it counts.
18. Try to prepare some meals at home or pack picnics if there is no kitchen available. Zhou says, “It saves money versus going out – plus I always find going to local grocery stores a different cultural experience in each country!”