Save Money When Traveling

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Summer is here and for many families, that means traveling.  So let’s start a series on how to save money when traveling. As usual, let’s start with doing our research on the internet and comparing our options.  In addition to booking travel options, use the web to check last minute bargains, lookup driving times, plans sites to see, get user reviews, look for discounts, explore available excursions, check exchange rates, find visitor information centers, look for fun family outings, and get travel ideas and tips.

Travel Websites To Save Money When Traveling

The internet has made it much easier to plan and book all types of travel – and most importantly, to avoid paying full price.  There are so many good travel sites that most people already know about, that I don’t need to mention them here, but I could note a few sites with special tools to help save money when traveling.

  • http://www.kayak.com/more – This popular travel booking site has extra tools that help you save including price alerts, low fare tips, and fare histories.
  • http://www.smartertravel.com/blogs/today-in-travel/airline-fees-the-ultimate-guide.html?id=2623262 – Don’t just compare ticket prices, also compare all those pesky fees in this handy guide.  Note for example that some airlines (Southwest and JetBlue) still offer free bags which makes a huge difference when comparing total air travel deals.
  • http://www.viator.com/ – Save big bucks by booking your cruise shore excursions directly rather than thru the cruise line.
  • https://www.tripadvisor.com/ – I often start with TripAdvisor to get ideas for sites to see at a destination, read traveler reviews, and connect to other websites.
  • https://www.bing.com/ – A new tool I like for quickly seeing what sites are popular in a new area is BING.com.  Just type in your destination and “tourism”.  You get a nice row of photos of popular places to visit and clicking them gives a Wikipedia summary and web search results.

Bidding Websites

Check your favorite website first for research, but add a stop at www.priceline.com where you specify general criteria for your booking, but not the exact brand or details.  You have to bid, but can pay around 30% – 50% less for your flexibility.  Many people know about Priceline, but the lesser known “secret” to being really successful is to first visit www.biddingtraveler.com to see winning bids or http://biddingfortravel.yuku.com/ and http://wwwbetterbidding.com to get information about bidding strategies.

There are many good websites to compare prices and book hotels, airlines, rental cars, cruises, vacation homes, and house swapping.  It’s frequently worth your time to also check the hotel and airline websites directly because they may offer better deals than the travel booking sites.  Additionally, some discount airlines may not be listed on travel sites at all, such as Southwest Airlines.  Sometimes you can get a better deal by calling a hotel directly if they have many empty rooms they are trying to fill.  When booking directly, you can get hotel reward points and possibly free internet or upgrade opportunities.

Since flying has become an expensive ordeal, my family often takes driving vacations.   When planning daily itineraries, use one of the many web calculators for “driving times”.

Just remember before you leave, download the kid’s DVR or Amazon shows to their tablets and don’t worry about “are we there yet?” too many times.

About John Kimball

Over the past few decades, I have experienced most of these financial issues with both mistakes and successes. I sure wish someone had told me these things when I was first starting out. So many times I have cried out, "I want a do over!" when I learned a new financial lesson or tip. I aim to pass along to you the financial insights I have gained from experience, reading, analysis, and living the financial aspects of managing, saving, investing, and spending your money. I am an analyst with a large organization and happily married with two children on their way to an expensive college, no doubt. I read numerous financial blogs, websites, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and books to bring you the latest news, insights, tips, and lessons combined with decades of experience.

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