travel hacks for every occasion
Have you ever wanted one cohesive place with all the best travel hacks, from finding cheap flights to credit card hacking and travel packing hacks? We’ve collected some of the best travel hacks. What is travel hacking? It’s essentially a shortcut that can either save you time or energy! We’ll be covering the following topics in this article:
  • How To Avoid Hidden Extra Fees Abroad
  • How To Find Great Business-Class Seat Deals
  • These Hotels Reward You For Your Loyalty
  • Where Can I Find the Best Travel Deals?
  • Three Ways to Accrue Flyer Miles Without Actually Flying
  • The Top 10 Free Apps for Travelers
  • 11 Ways to Travel on a Tight Budget
  • How to Save on Airfare for 2 or More People
  • How to Make Travel Affordable
  • Top Hacks for Airport Lounge Access

How To Avoid Hidden Extra Fees Abroad 

Planning a trip overseas is a whole ton of fun but sometimes too much time is devoted to the exciting parts of the trip, and the tedious research goes by the wayside. Figuring out the deal with foreign transaction fees isn’t nearly as enticing as booking a tour at the Louvre. You don’t want to get to your destination only to find out that you should have spent some time researching these things; we’re here to help with our guide to avoiding extra fees abroad.

1.) How should you exchange cash?

Not all exchange rates are created equal, and when it comes to cash, you want the best bang for your buck. Plan out your budget for your trip, and then head to your local bank or credit union to get the best exchange rates before your trip. If you’re taking an extended vacation, it may not be feasible or practical to withdraw all of your cash ahead of time. If that’s the case, see if your bank is part of the Global ATM Network where you won’t have any fees tacked on to your transaction if you use one of the banks in-network. Whatever you do, though, don’t exchange money at the airport or any random ATM you find in an offbeat location unless it’s an emergency, or you’ll end up paying for that convenience in hefty fees. Airports and little currency exchange offices are notorious for having bad exchange rates. You’ll want to reserve these as a last resort.

2.) Do you have the right credit card for international travel?

Foreign transaction fees are an easy money maker for credit card companies. It’s a charge that can cost you anywhere from 2 to (a whopping) 4 percent of your total bill. The conundrum is that credit cards also happen to offer some of the best exchange rates at any given moment, so it’s beneficial to use them over other methods while traveling. To avoid these fees depleting your vacation fund, you’ll want to verify that your card has no foreign transaction fees. If your credit card does have those fees, it might be time to apply for one that doesn’t charge you. A few of the best credit cards to use abroad with no fee are the American Express Gold Card, Capital One VentureOne Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. As each card is different, you should choose the one that fits your specific needs best. Another common occurrence while traveling is merchants asking if you want your card charged in your home country’s currency. As comforting as it may be to see familiar money on the screen, don’t fall for it. Charge everything in the local currency and let your credit card do the exchange to get the best rate.

3.) Can you use a debit card?

If you thought you could avoid the credit card mess by using your debit card, we’re sorry to burst your bubble. These foreign transaction fees also carry over to bank debit cards, unless you have a Capital One 360 or Discover Bank account. If you don’t have either of those, your best bet is to use a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Another option is to stop by a participating foreign ATM if your bank is a member of the Global ATM network. When trying to maximize your dollar, the key is to plan ahead. It’s when you don’t plan ahead that you are most likely to get caught on the bad side of an exchange rate or slapped with a foreign transaction fee.

How To Find Great Business-Class Seat Deals

1.) Redeem points or miles for business class One of the best ways to score great deals is to use your points or reward miles to upgrade your ticket to a business class seat. While you’d still have to pay for the original ticket, you’re not paying for your upgrade; and oftentimes, upgrades cost much less in points redemption than booking a flight outright so you can sometimes do 2 or more upgrades for the same amount of points as booking an economy-class ticket. 2.) Watch fares like a hawk & be flexible Almost like the stock market, fares for business class seats fluctuate drastically, and sometimes within a matter of hours. If you’re diligent and have flexible plans, you can end up paying notably less than the person seated next to you. Subscribe to your favorite airline’s newsletter to be alerted to sales and promotions as soon as they go live. It is also beneficial to download apps like CheapOair and SkyScanner, both of which monitor flight prices and notify you when prices change. Also, this is unconventional advice, but has yielded us some great savings over the years: call the airline daily to see if there are any changes to prices on the flights you want. This works especially well if you’re friendly and can build a rapport with a specific agent. 3.) Try flying with a budget airline Although budget airlines don’t have the typical business-class experience of the big-name airlines, their “premium-economy” experience is still a huge step up from economy and it comes at a much more affordable price-point. You can still enjoy free snacks and premium beverages and more comfortable seating arrangements. 4.) Bid on an upgrade via auction sites Just like some cruise line’s will offer up opportunities to bid on room upgrades a few weeks before sailing, certain airlines allow economy passengers to place blind bids on any unsold seats in a higher class up to 10 days before departure. Most are invitation-only for select passengers, but if you’re one of the lucky chosen ones, you could score a business-class seat for much less than any other avenue! 5.) Dress the part If you weren’t able to secure a business class seat before heading to the airport, there’s one last trick you can try before giving up hope. Dress nicely and ask politely at check-in if there are any first-class seats available for upgrade. Airlines usually over-book their seats to account for the inevitable no-shows and sometimes it can work out in your favor, particularly if you already look and act the part of a business traveler.

These Hotels Reward You For Your Loyalty

These days, loyal program perks can go a long way. Major hotel chains try to outdo each other with reward programs, and that is to the benefit of you, the traveler. Each company has its own set of requirements that need to be met in order to redeem free nights and special privileges. Zero in on one or more hotels that will give you the perks that you really want with easy-to-meet requirements. Following are just some of the numerous hotels that have been rated in the World’s Best Hotel Rewards Programs for 2019-2020 by U.S. News: Marriott Bonvoy Named #1, Marriott Bonvoy has over 6,900 hotels with 29 brands and in 130 countries in major cities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. That large number is due to the fact that in February of 2019, Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), and Ritz-Carlton Rewards officially combined their programs. Marriott’s special benefits include:
  • Earn 10 points per dollar for booking at legacy Marriott, Starwood, and Ritz-Carlton properties. Also earn points through Hertz car rentals, cruises through Cruises Only, airline travel, a spa treatment, a round of golf, or room service.
  • You earn extra points by purchases with an American Express’ Marriott-affiliated card, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card from Chase Visa or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase Visa.
  • In addition to free nights and upgrades to a room, points can be redeemed for cruise vacations, retail gift cards, sporting events, concerts, and more.
  • There are eight tiers, and free night points vary by the tier. They’re published on a reward chart, and start at 7,500 points for Category 1 hotels and go to 85,000 points per night for Category 8 hotels. No matter what category you book, you get a fifth night free when you book four consecutive nights. Joining is free, and the perks include free Wi-Fi, members-only rates, and being able to check in with your phone.
Wyndham Rewards Rated #2, there are more than 9,000 properties in the United States, Europe, Mexico, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. Wyndham’s special benefits include:
  • Free nights cost only 15,000 points each ($1,500), whether you have stayed in a Days Inn or a high-scale resort. A Wyndham and Caesars Entertainment partnership also lets you book at any Caesars property.
  • The flat-rate redemption makes for easy understanding as opposed to other programs that make it difficult to establish what free nights actually cost.
  • You earn 10 points per dollar spent, or 1,000 points per stay, whichever is greater. You earn 100 points per day on car rentals with Budget and Avis. An alliance with Amtrak and air carriers such as United Airlines and American Airlines earns miles or points that can be applied to hotel stays, flights, vacation rentals, tours, retail purchases, and gift cards.
  • The Wyndham Rewards Visa has a $75 annual fee, but you receive a 15,000-point bonus after the first purchase and another 15,000 more if you spend $1,000 in the first three months after opening the account.
World of Hyatt Rated as #3, there are about 750 hotels in the World of Hyatt; their strong luxury portfolio also includes more than just Park Hyatts. You get great redemptions with Hyatt’s Centric brand as well as Grand Hyatts and other hotels, resorts, and spas in major cities in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Asia, and Europe. Hyatt’s special benefits include:
  • All Hyatt purchases earn five points per dollar. A quick way to earn points faster is by getting the World of Hyatt Chase Visa Credit Card that gives four bonus points per dollar spent on top of the existing five, so you would get nine points per dollar if you booked a Hyatt with this card as well as added points on everyday purchases.
  • You accumulate points that can be used for room upgrades, free nights, dining, Exhale spa and fitness services, car rentals, airline miles with almost 30 airlines, and FIND experiences.
  • There are four levels of status, three of which offer bonuses. While the first level requires only signing up, the other tiers unlock by booking nights at Hyatt properties.
To get the most out of a hotel rewards program, you’ll want to find one that fits your personal needs and desires the best. What cities do you book most frequently at? You’ll want to choose a hotel chain that has plenty of options in your cities. Many programs have free sign-ups, so you don’t necessarily have to just choose one. If you stick with it, you will find your reward points adding up quickly. You can then enjoy the various perks that you are entitled to and will indeed be rewarded for your loyalty, often in a big way.

Where Can I Find the Best Travel Deals?

Are you putting off traveling for lack of funds? There are a few sites that we keep in our travel planning arsenal that save hundreds of dollars on hotels, flights and car rentals every time by travel hacking. Take a look at our favorite travel deal websites so you can stop pinching pennies and start planning your next vacation!

Flights

1.) SkyScannerThe flexibility of this website is astonishing. You can search for flights throughout a whole country or region which means no more having to search each local airport separately. You can also leave the arriving city open-ended and the site will list the cheapest flights from your departing city first, which is great if you are unsure of a destination or are very budget-driven. The site also allows you to search an entire month’s worth of flights to ensure the very best deal.

2.) Secret FlyingDon’t book a flight without checking Secret Flying first. This site aggregates all airline price errors (that the companies legally have to honor) and it happens more often than you’d think! It’s a travel hack you’re going to want to use often. 

3.) Airfare WatchdogThis comprehensive website compiles all discount and mistake fares in one place to save you a ridiculous amount of money. Use the “top fares” feature to snag the lowest prices or comb through all of the budget airlines in one fell swoop.

4.) The Flight DealYou can find flights as cheap as $70 round-trip using The Flight Deal. There are usually restrictions, and the fares are only for a limited time, so they’re ideal for travelers that are flexible and frugal.

5.) Holiday PiratesUK-based ‘Holiday Pirates’ and its US-based sister site ‘Travel Pirates’ are not some of the better-known travel sites, but they excel at packaging flights and hotels together to save you the most on your trip.

6.) The Points GuyIf you’re looking to book a vacation within the next few months, sign up for The Points Guy’s newsletter to be alerted to daily deals and special insider sales before (or if) they go public.

Hotels

1.) Booking.comThis site is one of the best-known travel sites and for good reason: they’ll land you some great deals on hotels! Even if you manage to find a better deal elsewhere, they’ll match the price.

2.) AgodaThis site is perfect if you’re traveling to Asia anytime soon. It searches all possible accommodations that meet your specifications; Hostels, vacation rental properties, hotels and private rooms are all included in the search so even the most budget-conscious traveler can find a price they like!

3.) PricelineWe all know Priceline has good deals, but their “name your own price” feature really can’t be beat for hotel stays. Often, you can snag a great hotel for about 10% less than any other website offers.

4.) Hotels CombinedIf you do best with comparing and contrasting, Hotels Combined will be your new best friend. This aggregator shows you the prices for hotels on all of the leading travel sites so you can see which has the best deal.

5.) SplendiaThose who don’t like scrimping on their hotels will adore Splendia. With their collection of over 3500 luxury and boutique hotels, the perfect high-class hotel is now at your fingertips. They guarantee the best prices so you won’t always have to break the bank to stay in a 5-star hotel.

6.) Budget PlacesOn the flip side of Splendia, there’s Budget Places. They scour frugal accommodations around the world to find you the best deals so you can spend your money experiencing the city instead!

Car Rentals

1.) Auto SlashAuto Slash searches the web for the best car rental prices, automatically applying available discounts and coupons to acquire the best deal possible for your next ride!

2.) Car RentalsDon’t book a rental car without checking Car Rentals first. This site will search over 30 different rental car companies to obtain the best price without you having to go to each individual site to compare costs.

3.) AlamoAlamo is well-known as one of the cheapest car rental companies out there right now. They often have discount codes and coupons available to make their low prices even more affordable.

4.) EnterpriseEnterprise has great customer service and even better prices. Heading directly to their site will often yield better discounts than using a travel site like Expedia or Travelocity. We know this is behind the times, but a quick phone call to them has always scored us even better rates than what their website advertises.

5.) BudgetDon’t let their name scare you off; Budget’s car rentals cost about a quarter less than its competitors on average without scrimping on quality products and customer service.

Do you have a go-to website that you feel offers great travel deals? Help fellow travelers out and list them in the comments! And if you are looking for the best airport parking deals, you can always count on AirportParkingReservations.com.  We pride ourselves on offering the best prices and options for off-airport parking!

Three Ways to Accrue Flyer Miles Without Actually Flying

If you read travel blogs or articles, you’ve probably been inundated with pieces on how to travel for free using frequent flyer miles. What is travel hacking? This! But, if you’ve never used flyer miles before, it can be a confusing venture. If you don’t fly frequently, you may think it’s not worth your time to sign up for miles. After all, there’s no way you could earn a free flight without jetting all over the world, right? Think again. Flyer miles aren’t a catch-22 like needing money to make money. There happen to be a plethora of ways that you can start earning miles today (with both feet on solid ground) by following our advice below. Points opportunities are just about everywhere. Just don’t blame us if you find yourself suddenly addicted to earning miles! 

One quick word of advice: do research to find the best options for your traveling needs and then choose to sign up for just one or two reward programs; it can be difficult, if not impossible, to merge points with different programs for redemption if you sign up for more than a few. 

Sign up for a Rewards Credit Card 

When used correctly, this is the quickest and easiest way to earn a free flight with travel hacks. Most major reward cards offer a significant sign-on bonus that is usually equivalent (or very close) to a free flight when you open an account. You must purchase a set amount (usually $3,000) within the first few months to earn the sign-on bonus so always do your due diligence and read the fine print before signing anything. Even if you don’t qualify for the promotion, you can still rack up points quickly by using your rewards card for all of your purchases and then just paying the card off monthly. Most major cards earn 1 to 5 points per dollar spent depending on the category. So if you spend just $1000 a month on your card, you could have an extra 12,000-24,000 points by the end of the year! You’ll need to do a bit of research to find the best fit. The best cards are those that allow for flexible traveling and aren’t tied into just one airline, like the Chase Sapphire Plus

Strategically Book Your Other Travel Accommodations 

Earning frequent flyer miles doesn’t need to stop when your flight is over; travel hack by earning miles throughout the entire traveling process. Most major rewards programs have rental car and hotel partnerships, as well. Check sites like PointsHound or RocketMiles before booking your hotel to compare what points can be earned among the hotels in the area. Rocket Miles also has promotions sometimes where you can score big points on particular hotels. Last year, Rocketmiles was running a promotion on a hotel in Ontario that scored us an extra 8,000 points. The hotel we had been considering would have only been a paltry 2000 points, and $50 more! So don’t book accommodations without checking what points you can earn first! And if you’re the type of person that likes to dine out a lot on vacation, (or even at home,) you can earn big points by not even doing anything out of the ordinary! Most major airline loyalty programs (like United and American Airlines) offer points if you eat at restaurants that are in their network. You simply log in to your loyalty account and link your credit card. Then when you eat at one of their partner restaurants using that linked card, you get credited your extra miles without even having to lift a finger. And, if you join Rewards Network, you can start earning 5 points per dollar spent after your 12th restaurant visit, which can add up very quickly. 

Purchase Everyday Items Through Airline Shopping Portals

This is one of the easiest (and most satisfying) ways to earn miles! Chances are good that in this day and age, you do a decent amount of online shopping. Before you hit the purchase button, pop over to Evreward. You can search through thousands of affiliated merchants and get a listing of possible rewards that you can earn for your purchase (sometimes up to 10 points per dollar!) Then just click through to the site using EVReward and log-in to your rewards account to earn points on the purchase you were going to make anyway! If that’s too many steps, you can always log in to your rewards account directly and shop via the home page. And if you’re not set on a store, say you just need some new clothing, check out Cashback Monitor to see a listing of stores and their respective rewards so you can earn the most for your purchase.

The Top 10 Free Apps for Travelers

One of the greatest joys in life is traveling. But with so much to keep track of, sometimes it can be a headache. From finding the right hotel for your family, to exploring an unfamiliar city, and finally getting home safely, there are a lot of details to juggle! Luckily, there are a slew of travel apps to help you travel hack, plan, organize, explore and stay on track throughout every step of the vacation process. Download the following ten apps before your next trip.

 

1. Hopper

Hopper makes booking flights easier than ever. This award-winning app figures out the best time to purchase your ticket so that you save as much money as possible. When the time is right, book your flight right from the app.  The best part? Hopper doesn’t have any ads, spam or pop-ups, so all you have to focus on is booking your next vacation.

2. Guides by Lonely Planet

Guides by Lonely Planet is packed with advice for almost any city you want to visit. Tips are offered by people who have on-the-ground experience, making it an ideal resource for your next trip. The “Near Me” feature shows you places that are nearby, making it easy for you to make the most out of your day. You can also access maps, even when you’re offline.

3. Live Trekker  

Live Trekker is great for anyone who likes to keep a visual journal of their trip. Memories are a trip’s ultimate souvenir, and Live Trekker lets you log and collect everything you want to remember from your vacation. Digital media captures your experiences, thoughts and emotions so you can relive your trip long after you’ve returned home. Track your steps via GPS tracking, publish trip information on social media, comment on what you did that day and add videos.

4. LoungeBuddy

The LoungeBuddy app makes it a cinch to find airport lounges, improving your travel experience from the very beginning. Airport lounges are great even if you don’t have a long layover or if your flight hasn’t been delayed. LoungeBuddy tells you which lounges are nearby and which ones are accessible to you and your party. Add your elite status, memberships and credit cards to your LoungeBuddy profile, and let them take care of the rest.

5. Bravolol

Bravolol helps you learn a new language right from your phone. Several languages are offered, including French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, German, Russian, Thai and more. On the go, the bilingual dictionary allows you to quickly lookup a word or phrase and pronounces it for you. And once the app is downloaded, you can access everything without an internet connection. 

6. Vurb

Vurb is an app made for apps. If you want a service that ties all of your favorite travel apps (or any apps for that matter) together into one place, then this is for you. You can do practically anything with Vurb, including make reservations, hire a car service, read reviews on Yelp, buy tickets on Fandango, get directions with GoogleMaps and watch Netflix.

7. FlightStats

The FlightStats app is a global flight tracker that offers everything from basic airport information to flight status tracking. Monitor your trip and signup for alerts so you’re always the first to know what’s going on with your flights. Travel professionals also use the FlightStats app to get information about their travelers, as well as tips for reducing costs.

8. BringFido

If you love to travel with man’s best friend, the BringFido app makes it easy to research pet-friendly businesses at your destination. Get a map with all of the dog-friendly hotels in a specific area, see rates and book your room all from the app. Aside from lodging options, you can also view outdoor restaurants that allow dogs, parks and beaches, and events just for your pup.

9. Spotted by Locals

The Spotted by Locals app for the iPhone lets travelers experience their destination like a true local.   Navigate through a host of businesses, venues and spaces that span ten different categories ranging from culture to bars. It has information for over 65 cities and no internet connection is required to access the information.

10. XE Currency

The XE Currency app lets you easily calculate currencies when you’re traveling. See live exchange rates and figure out prices from your phone. You can also look at the history of specific exchange rates to see trends.

Think about your biggest needs when traveling. Do you hate getting to the airport only to find out that your flight has been delayed? Do you have difficulty calculating exchange rates in your head? Do you want to travel with your beloved pet but don’t know where to start? There’s an app out there for you that will solve your biggest travel dilemmas.

And… we would be remiss not to mention our very own AirportParkingReservations.com! It’s the smarter, greener travel hack to book your airport parking reservations.  Simply book your reservation and show your app receipt when you arrive at the parking lot.

11 Ways to Travel on a Tight Budget

The number one reason people usually refrain from traveling is based on financial reasons. Traveling can be expensive, but there are always ways to get around it (just don’t expect to be staying in any five star hotels). Don’t let money and five star hotels get in the way of you exploring the world. Here are ways to travel (short-term and long- term) while you are on a budget!

save money in a jar for a travel hack

1. The most important thing to do before embarking on a trip is to start saving your money a couple months before. Don’t spend your money on items you don’t actually need and stop eating out! Start cooking your own meals at home. Try to refrain from buying alcoholic drinks or coffee from Starbucks every morning because they can definitely start to rack up the bill.        
via free2befrugal.com
via free2befrugal.com
2. Travel to less cities (especially if you are going to Europe). Buying train and/or plane tickets to travel to different cities can become very costly. Stick with two or three cities you really want to see. 3. If you are planning to stay abroad for a longer time, consider working overseas as a/an: Au pair, bartender, hostel worker, waitress/waiter, farm worker, dive instructor (some certification required), tour guide, cruise ship worker, casino worker, seasonal worker at ski resorts These are some websites to check out for working abroad: 4. Teach Abroad Teaching abroad makes great money (especially in Asia) and is a great way to support yourself while traveling around the world. 5.  Find free flights If you have enough miles, you can use them to travel hack for free flights around the world. 6. FLY SMART: Check out www.ryanair.comwww.easyjet.com or www.flymonarch.com. 7. Airbnb With Airbnb, you can have your cake and eat it too. You can stay in a nice place that is also an affordable price. Airbnb is a website that connects users with property to rent with users looking to rent the space. www.airbnb.com  8. Cook your own meals Instead of going out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, try to cook two out of three of your meals daily. Especially breakfast. Buy some bananas from the local grocery store to use for your breakfast. And yes, experiencing food is a huge part of traveling, but the money can really add up. Cooking a nice meal in a different country is also a great experience. Plan on having a nice dinner out at a restaurant twice a week.
cook on your own as a travel hack
9. Use hostels Hostels are far from five star hotels, but they are very convenient and cheap. Check out www.hostels.com. 10. Student and discount cards There are so many discounts just for being a student. Use them to your advantage. 11. Find friends or family to stay with. This option becomes especially useful if you are not comfortable with couch surfing or staying in hostels. If you have friends or family who live in the destination you are traveling to, then use them to your advantage. Ask them if you can crash on their couch for a couple of nights. I’m sure they will be more than happy to assist.

How to Travel Hack on Airfare for 2 or More People

When shopping around for airline tickets, you may have noticed that prices don’t work in your favor when booking more than one ticket on the same itinerary. As vacationers take to the skies again, airlines have found yet another way to raise prices. What is travel hacking? Figuring how to get ahead of them! The Key to Paying Less for Multiple-Ticket Airfares There is a way to maneuver around this roadblock and make sure each ticket you book is at the lowest possible price. However, first you have to understand how the airlines determine their price point and price each individual ticket. How the Airlines Price Two or More Passengers on the same Itinerary Airline reservation systems work on a simple level when quoting prices for the booking of trips with two or more passengers. If the lowest fare category doesn’t have enough availability for your whole party, the system will automatically bump all of your tickets up to the next highest fare. If that fare doesn’t have enough availability either, it’ll bump up once more to the next highest fare. So instead of one or more of your group getting the last of those lower fares, you’ll all pay a premium. But fear not! You can beat the system and book each ticket at its cheapest price. All it takes is one simple booking tip. Book your Group One Passenger at a Time Your best bet is to price shop for the first passenger on your itinerary. Use that price as your basis of comparison before searching for the other seats. Be sure to check out multiple websites when shopping around. At any given time, different airfare sites can display a variety of ticket prices and seat inventories. This is where Cheapflights can make the entire process a breeze by presenting price comparisons with more than one site all in one location. Particularly when dealing with a tight seat supply for a vacation period or holiday weekend, this becomes both a lifesaver and real money-saver. You can even use this cost comparison technique when booking award seats for part of your traveling party. It’s OK To Split A Ticket Purchase It’s perfectly fine to split your group ticket purchase, even if you all plan to travel on the same flight. Book each ticket individually if necessary to take advantage of the lowest available fare. This can prevent your entire group of tickets from being bumped up unnecessarily to a higher price. Online Booking Hint When booking online, open more than one browser on your screen. Book your reservations and then bring both transactions to the credit card payment page. Pay and complete each ticket purchase right after the other. Some airline sites also have what is known as a “hold” feature that works well when booking multiple tickets. As a precaution, always review both the cancellation and change policies for each and every ticket purchase. Being sure to do this one thing before making that credit card payment, can make for greater piece of mind later on. When booking your tickets, try to choose seats so at least two or more of your passengers can sit near one other. If seating is important to you or someone else you are flying with, paying an extra fee for “Preferred Seat Selection” may be well worth the extra costs involved. Online airline reservation systems will typically have a limit of six to eight passengers per ticket purchase itinerary. If your travel group is made up of more than that number of passengers, you should phone the “Group Sales” of the airline so that they can override this online maximum for you. Don’t Forget! When booking airline reservations for more than one passenger in your family or group of travelers, always travel hack by price shopping for that one passenger ticket first. This way, you are in possession of a solid price point on which to base other displayed rates.

How to Make Travel Affordable

Contrary to popular belief, millionaires aren’t the only people that can enjoy traveling the world. If you’ve been putting off your wanderlust for fear of breaking the bank, look no further. Even families with tight budgets can make their vacation dreams come true with a little bit of planning, a few travel hacks and these helpful vacation tips for traveling on the cheap!

1. SAVING MONEY

The first step (before you even decide on a destination,) is to get your finances in order. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it may seem next to impossible to take a vacation. But, if you follow the steps listed below, you’ll soon be well on your way to a relaxing getaway.

A.) Budget: Take an hour or so out of your week and plan a budget. Review all of your income and your actual expenses, and then see where you can cut back. Do you really need to grab a donut before work every day? Can you cut the $100 cable bill or that restaurant meal twice a week? Once you’ve figured out all of your finances and what you’re willing to sacrifice for your trip, set some budgeting goals and stick to them.

B.) Side Hustle: If you have very limited wiggle room with your money once you’ve set up your budget, consider making extra dough on the side that can be earmarked for travel. Do you have a couple hundred dollars that you can throw into the stock market? Do you have anything around your house that you can sell or a skill that you can turn into dollars? The opportunities are limitless, and every dollar you earn will get you closer to soaking up some sun in paradise!

C.) Savings Challenge: If you need an extra boost, try joining a savings challenge so you have the support of other people going through the same struggles. Or you can always try the “out of sight, out of mind” trick and set up a bank account just for travel. Then, have a predetermined amount automatically deposited from your paycheck weekly or monthly so the money doesn’t even have a chance to cross your wallet.

2. TRAVEL SAVINGS

Once you’re ready to book your trip, there are a myriad of travel hacks to be frugal with your plans in order to make travel affordable.

A.) Travel Points: One of the greatest ways to save money on vacations is through rewards systems. Many credit cards offer airline miles or even discounts on hotels and rental cars just for signing up! Quite a few hotel chains also have their own reward program where you can earn free nights just for being a loyal guest.

B.) Be Flexible: If you know where you’d like to go, try to be flexible with the dates. Flights are historically lower on Tuesdays than any other day, so taking a vacation in the middle of the week will garner the most savings. Almost every destination has slower “seasons” when accommodations and excursions will be less expensive (and less crowded.)

C.) There’s an app for that!: There is a plethora of vacation websites, blogs and apps available for the frugal traveler. Some of our faves are: “Secret Flying” and “Skiplagged” for the cheapest airfare; “Kayak” for the cheapest hotels, cars and airfare and “Meal Ticket” to save money on restaurants once you arrive.

D.) Budget/package vacations: You can get some pretty deep discounts by traveling in a group with others, or bundling all of your travel expenses into one package. Talk to your local travel agent to see if there are any group tours available, or check out Groupon or Living Social for some great deals that often include airfare and amazing itineraries!

E.) Cut back on the luxury aspects of traveling: Consider renting a place with a kitchen so that you can splurge and eat out a few times, but save money by preparing your own food the rest of the trip. Instead of renting a car, use public transportation or even walk to see the sights. Try to eat where the locals eat and stay away from tourist traps. Plan out whatever you can ahead of time so you aren’t stuck shelling out money for something unexpected at the last second.

F.) Get creative: A great vacation can still be had without the five-star hotel and the nightly expensive dinners. Get creative with how you travel and where you stay. Place an ad for house sitting in your destination city to score free housing, or try renting a residence from Airbnb for much less than the cost of a hotel. Check out Blablacar to share rides if you need to get around, or try bartering your services for meals at restaurants or for room and board.

Top Travel Hacks for Airport Lounge Access

Airports can be exhausting with nowhere comfortable to sit, long food lines, expensive drinks. Not to mention every outlet is usually taken! These moments are when airport lounges can be a huge help. What is travel hacking for if not to make your trip more enjoyable? There are many ways to gain access to the coveted airport lounge, some well known, and some not so common. This post will dive into some of the best ways you can gain access to an airport lounge. Credit Cards First, and perhaps most obvious, is to open an airline credit card. Many airlines include lounge access in the list of perks that come with being a credit card holder. There are often many other perks as well, such as free checked bags, priority boarding, and miles per dollar spent on the card. With cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum, you can gain access to Priority Pass lounges. Overall, opening an airline credit card is a great way to access more travel perks, as long as you’re someone that can responsibly handle credit. If an airline credit card isn’t for you, some major credit card companies also partner with airlines or airports to offer perks that way. American Express, for example, sponsors Centurion Lounges in many major airports. Friends A less common travel hack to head into the lounge is by asking (or being) a first-class flyer. Passengers that are flying first class typically get access to their airport’s lounge automatically, and they can take guests in with them! While this method is 100% free, it can also potentially be 100% awkward, because it requires you to hang around the entrance to the lounge and politely asking folks as they walk in. Hopefully, one of the first-class flyers you talk to is friendly. If you’re ready to make it a social experiment, let us know how it goes! Day Passes If you’re not willing to commit to a credit card or rely on the kindness of strangers, you can also purchase an airport lounge day pass. Many airlines will offer one day passes to their lounges. These passes can definitely come in handy if you have a long layover and prefer to spend those hours in comfort, or even if your flight has had a long delay. For more frequent fliers, third-party vendors such as Priority Pass also offer memberships that grant you access to a variety of airport lounges throughout the country, without keeping you held to one specific airline. Some travelers are loyal to their favorite airlines, and the perks are often worth it! One of those perks can be access to the airline lounge. While this isn’t technically free, if you’re someone that travels a lot, it’s a perk that often comes along with elite frequent flier status. Choosing an airline to stay loyal to is recommended for a variety of reasons, and the opportunity for lounge access is definitely one of them! Frequent flier miles aren’t so bad, either. Beyond the luxury of lounges hosted by airlines or credit card companies are public lounges, which are rising in popularity. The fee to enter these public lounges is often lower than that of a day pass to an airline’s lounge. They offer similar amenities, such as WiFi, comfortable seating, shower facilities, and snacks. The Club, for example, is a public lounge that can be found in 12 airports throughout the United States. Airport lounges are a way to elevate your travel and provide yourself with some much-needed comfort during a long layover. There are many ways to get access to these lounges, but in general, two things will get you far in your travel hack: a favorite airline and a friendly smile.