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So, you’ve got a big trip coming up in the near future, huh? Did you know that just winging it once the time to head out the door arrives is liable to cost you money you didn’t have to spend? Thankfully, there are a host of things you can do right now to save money planning your vacation which will help you to keep more money in your bank account rather than in the travel industry’s.
Here’s what some of them are…
Plan for a ride to the airport.
We’ll assume that you are indeed flying. If that’s the case, you’re going to be driving to the airport, right? Have you ever had to pay for long-term airport parking though? It’s obscene! The airport knows that they have you trapped, and so they charge whatever they want for parking, knowing you’re going to feel little choice but to pay it.
On one prior week-long out-of-state trip, my overnight parking at the airport cost me an additional $130. I could have paid my electric bill with that money.
What you can do now to avoid a similar fate is this: plan to get dropped off.
Can you find a friend or relative who is willing to drop you off at the airport instead? This is a good way to avoid ridiculous long-term parking fees completely. Perhaps an Uber or Lyft driver could drop you off instead.
Even if you have to pay $20 for a ride share, this still is a substantial discount over what you would pay for long-term parking.
Purchase your plane tickets roughly 70 days in advance.
On average, 70 days out is the cheapest ticket cost possible. Further in any direction away from 70 days increases your odds of paying more. In addition, you want to aim to buy your tickets on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday as well. These are the days which consistently have the lowest airfare rates.
The reason for this is due to airports tending to run their sales in the middle of the week. You’re going to have to have a calendar at hand to save yourself money this way, but it’s a good way to keep an extra couple bucks in the bank.
Shop around for airports.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that you want to visit Orlando. You’re not impressed with the prices of airline tickets there though as they’re all very high. You can save money now by shopping around for the prices of different airports.
If you’re willing to drive a short ways, you could easily save you and your family hundreds of dollars on airline tickets by flying in to a nearby airport instead. Perhaps flying into Tampa could save you $50/ticket. I’ve saved myself hundreds of dollars by doing this over the years. I am more than happy to drive an extra 30 minutes if it means I save myself $70/ticket.
You do have to weigh the cost-benefit of getting a car rental or ride share to the end destination, but the fact of the matter is that shopping around to fly into different airports is a great way to save money on your vacation now.
Plan to never take taxis.
Right off the bat you need to have this decision made in your head already. My experiences with taxi cab drivers is that they are A) unsafe drivers, B) overly expensive, and C) willing to lie to make more money. My last taxi ride, my driver drove the wrong way to a hotel which was five minutes from the airport. This was a prominent hotel. There’s no way he didn’t know it’s location.
The meter was on though, and I was paying the man by the mile. He got an extra chunk of change that way. I can’t help but think this “mistake” was purposefully crafted.
You need to plan for this now so that you can save money later.
My recommendation? Either contact the hotel you’re going to be staying in, and arrange for their shuttle service to pick you up from the airport, or download the Uber and Lyft apps to your phone now.
If you wait until you’re in the airport, you may very well end up in a situation where you’re unable to download the app (speaking from experience here), and then you’re stuck with a (perhaps dishonest) taxi driver.
Plan your coffee habit for the airport.
If coffee is a necessity for you, I recommend just packing in a few instant coffee packets. You’ll save $5+ on your caffeine fix during your layover, and won’t have to wait in any ridiculous lines either. (Yes, the coffee will be cold. You’re going to have to drink it like a millennial.)
Travel in the off season.
If you’re going to be traveling into a tourist hot spot, you can save quite a bit of money on expenses by going off-season. It’s during this time that business owners are willing to slash prices to meet expenses. They’re not getting as much business during this time, and want to bring in as much as they can.
There’s another reason this is a great time to travel though: the gas is cheaper.
Gasoline prices historically are always raised (yes, purposefully) at the beginning of summer. Exporters know that Americans travel heavily during this time, and so they raise their prices to reflect that. If you’re going to need to fill up your tank twice just to reach your end destination, this could mean you’d be paying quite a bit of extra cash.
Obviously, nobody wants to go to the beach when it’s frigid, but for destinations where colder weather really doesn’t matter, this could be a good way to save yourself some money. (You should also check out how to save money on your gas mileage, if you’re planning a long road trip.)
Use an Airbnb for family trips.
Here’s my reasoning behind this: you can save a bucket of money by cooking most of your own meals while on vacation. We’ve been doing this in my family for years. Hotel rooms don’t have any form of cooking facility other than a small mini fridge and a microwave. A week’s worth of microwaved food is a good way to set yourself up for being depressed.
If you look for Airbnbs instead, you’ll often get a kitchen to boot. This comes right around the same price point as a hotel room does per night as well (yeah, there’s some variation, but overall, I’ve found it’s relatively comparable.)
Plan out now how you’re going to travel about town once you get to your end destination.
If you’re driving to your vacation spot, you don’t have to worry about this. If you’re flying, you do. If you wait till the last minute to rent a car, you’re prone to getting hit with a high bill. (“Sorry, sir, all we have available to rent is the Ferrari.”)
Not that I would be opposed to driving a fancy vehicle around, but I don’t want to pay the extra rental fee. You get the point. So, figure out what you’re going to need now.
Can you book your car rental well in advance? Are you just going to focus on Uber and Lyft? Can you take the subway? Do your logistics planning now to save yourself the headache and money problems later.
Time to hit the road!
What are your thoughts? Are there other hidden secrets you’ve found to help your family save money? Let us know in the comments below!
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.