I spend quite a bit of time traveling, sometimes for work and sometimes for fun, and over the years, one fact has become painfully obvious: I am not the most savvy traveler. When I return from a trip, I always have a “hindsight’s 20/20” moment when I realize I could have cut $2,000 from the price tag if I left on a different day or stayed at a cheaper hotel on the last night. That being said, over time, I have picked up some tricks for keeping my travel costs low — if I remember to use them, that is.
Florida’s One-Way Car Rentals
If you’re ever heading down to Florida in the spring — between April 1 and June 30 — and enjoy the occasional road trip, look into Florida’s one-way car rental deals. With spring break at its end and snowbirds all flying back north for the summer, rental companies find themselves with a surplus of cars. Instead of paying employees to drive the cars to other cities, many rental companies utilize their customers, offering rentals for cheap — between $5 and $10 a day — if the customer returns the car at an out-of-state location. Most major cities east of Denver qualify as return locations, and if you’re looking to save money on the return flight and rental car fees during your Florida vacation, I highly recommend this trick.
Okay, hear me out. I know most people hear “budget airline” and picture rickety planes powered by mice running on wheels, but really, the airplanes you’ll find with Allegiant Air or JetBlue are no different than any other airline. Recently, I flew down to Florida on Delta. For my return trip, I booked a flight with Allegiant for less than half the cost of the Delta flight! Sure, these budget airlines will nickel and dime you for every little thing, but what airline doesn’t? The trick is remembering to check their websites. Most budget airlines won’t show up on sites like Expedia, so you need to shop around before committing to a flight.
The Many Tricks of Accommodation
There’s some real strategy to saving on hotels or other accommodation options. Apps like Airbnb or HomeAway offer great options at a fraction of what hotels can cost, but sometimes hotel amenities are too good to pass up.
When booking, be careful of which website you’re using. Research from travel blogger Nomadic Matt found that Expedia and Priceline consistently offer the lowest prices on hotels. Additionally, I’ve found spending my last night at a cheaper hotel saves me hundreds. Why drop an extra $500 at the ski lodge the night before your flight when you can drive back into the city and stay at a hotel near the airport for $80?
Summer is the prime travel season for many people, and I figured now would be as good a time as any to share what I’ve learned after making many, many mistakes. But like I said, I’m no expert. If you have some clever travel tips for saving a few bucks, I’d love to hear them.