How would it feel to take your next vacation without debt? Or how about staying in your dream hotel for 50% below the listed rate?
Whatever your travel goals are, here’s 7 easy tricks that can help make them happen.
You’ll definitely want to take advantage of tip # 1. However, stack all 7-tips and you can save some serious money.
1) Get Up to 10% Cash Back On Travel Purchases
Do you purchase hotel, airfare, or rental cars online? If so, you’ll love Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is a free rewards site that allows you to earn up to 20% cash back on your online purchases. Right now Swagbucks has some incredible cash back deals on travel.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for your free account and verify your email
- Go to the shop section on the left hand sidebar and click on Travel
- Simply click through to the travel site you were going to make your purchase through anyways
- Make your purchase through that site
- Once your points hit your Swagbucks account, which takes a few days, exchange them for cash through PayPal
It takes only a few extra seconds and you’ll easily earn 10% back. As travel expenses can add up, so can the cash back you earn.
It’s worth mentioning, Swagbucks specializes in more then just cash back on travel. You can also earn a few percent cash back from online stores like Amazon, Walmart, and thousands of others.
# 2) Use These Tips for Bidding on Priceline Hotels
When booking a hotel, I head straight to Priceline and use their Name Your Own Price® feature. This is by far the best way I’ve found to pay the lowest rate.
To get the cheapest rate, here’s a simple process to use:
Step # 1 – Do Your Research
Head over to Hotwire.com. Hotwire is like Priceline where you book a hotel without knowing the name of the hotel. The key difference with Hotwire is instead of bidding, you know the price upfront.
The goal is to use Hotwire for market research for what you’ll bid on Priceline. For example, if Hotwire is showing a 4-star hotel for $98 in Dallas–you want to start your bid on Priceline below this rate.
Step # 2 – Start Your Bidding
Start your bid at Priceline with a rate around 20% lower than the lowest advertised Hotwire price.
Make sure the star-ratings, location, etc… match what you had at Hotwire.
Then, place your bid.
Step # 3 – What To Do If You’re Rejected
If your bid is rejected — its OK. Here’s what to do next.
First, you can change the parameters of your search to rebid instantly. For example, add a different zone or star-rating. You only want to try this though if those changes fit your travel plans.
The better thing to do is wait 24 hours, then rebid. Increase your bid by a few percentage points.
If you keep on bidding up each day and not winning, here’s two things to keep in mind:
- You obviously don’t want to go above what Hotwire lists as the cheapest hotel
- Check what Priceline is offering with their ExpressDeals
#3) Download Maps Before you Go
One of the many little-known features of Google Maps is allowing you to download maps of a specific destination.
This way you can navigate around a new city, regardless of its availability of Internet or cellular coverage (In my experience, a side-effect of this is eliminating 90% of the arguments with your spouse).
Here’s the quick directions from Google for your iPhone:
And here’s Android:
# 4) Turn Your Credit Card Into A Debit Card
One of the most popular ways to save money on travel is to use credit card points. But as a Certified Financial Planner®, this isn’t something I recommend to everyone.
The data is clear we spend more when paying with credit over cash/debit. One study showed around 12 to 18% more.
But now there’s a way to get credit card perks without the risks with an app called Debitize.
Here’s how Debitize works:
- Sign up here for free
- Make purchases on your credit card as you normally would
- Debitize will deduct the amount from your checking account each day
- At the end of the month, Debitize will pay your credit card bill
If you’re spending more than you earn each month–give Debitize a try.
#5) Start a Travel Blog
At a recent conference I attended, I had an epiphany when some of the world’s biggest travel bloggers were on stage.
First, many of these bloggers revealed how they travel around the world for free. For example, they might get a free hotel stay to write a review of the hotel on their blog.
Next, many of their travel expenses are tax deductible.
This got my head spinning quite a bit as:
- I have a blog!
- I love to travel!
- I like the idea of writing off travel expenses!
If starting a travel blog sounds like something you might be interested in too, check out: The Business of Travel Blogging.
It’s a course that goes deep into how to build a successful travel blog by one of the most well-respected and successful bloggers in the space.
# 6) Get The Library Extension for Google Chrome
Did you know even while you’re away you can check out ebooks, audiobooks, and more from your local library?
To find which books are available from your local library, get the free Library Extension for Google Chrome.
How it works is you browse for books on Amazon. The extension then shows you if that book is available for download in ebook/kindle or audiobook format (for free of course) from your library.
I read a ton while traveling and this extension has saved me A LOT of money. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can use the free Kindle smartphone or tablet app.
# 7) Ship Discount Food to your Hotel/Rental
Once you book airfare and hotel, the typical next largest expense is food. As a parent of a child with multiple severe food allergies, we’ve started to ship our own food right to our hotel or rental. While we did this out of peace of mind and to save time, it ended up saving us money for a few reasons:
- We packed a lot less, as such avoided baggage fees
- We avoided the price hikes on food some destinations have during busy season
- We shop smart at online discount stores that offer free shipping
One site we’ve used in the past is Thrive Market. It’s like the Costco for health conscious people. There’s a membership fee upfront. However, the 20% you save on your first three orders and the cheap pricing on everything else covers the fee.
While shopping local markets is one of my family’s favorite travel experiences, it saves us money to have some staples on hand.
It’s worth mentioning, food isn’t the only thing you can ship to save money. Golf clubs, surfboards, musical instruments are some other things you can have shipped directly via FedEx, UPS, or USPS.