Credit cards, point cards, you know the drill. I’m not gonna spell it out for you because everyone knows they exist. My advice though, would be to look into the rewards programs before committing to them because some of them suck. And by “some of them”, I mean Aeroplan. Nothing’s worse than spending 3 years collecting travel points only to find out they’re worth close to nothing or there are a bazillion limitations when you go to book your travels.
What I am going to share with you is some less obvious tips on how you can save on flights and accommodations.
Hopper: An app that tracks flight price patterns and notifies you when it predicts the prices are at their lowest before your travel dates. Download it here.
Skiplagged: A website that allows you to search for airfare loopholes. It’s pretty genius when you think about it actually - sometimes it’s cheaper to fly somewhere with a “fake layover”. So if you’re booking a trip from Phoenix to Seattle, airlines will tell you it’ll cost $140. But skiplagged.com searches for flights that have alternate final destinations with Seattle as a layover stop, at which point you would just hop off and not continue with the rest of the flight route. In this case, a flight from Phoenix to Victoria with a stop in Seattle will run for about $121.
The only problem you’d run into here is if you’re bringing checked bags. Since the flight continues on to another destination, this would typically only work if you bring just a carry-on.
Ps. This website works so well to find airfare loopholes that an airline sued them. But Skiplagged won 🙌
Google Flights: My fave. When you’re first looking into flights, google.com/flights is the place to go. It’ll give you info on best dates to fly, across all airlines, all in one place. Convenient? YAP. It’s the perfect tool to fidget around with travel dates, flight origin and destination (if you’re flexible) to find the best pricing. So if you’re not booking a packaged all-inclusive vacation, I’d suggest always checking Google Flights first.
It shows pricing based on departure date. So if you’re not stuck on dates, open up the calendar and take a look:
The next pointer doesn’t just apply to Google Flights, it’s more of a general tip. If your departure location isn’t set in stone, you can play around with the flight origin to find cheaper prices. Here’s an example - I was looking for a flight from Langkawi, Malaysia to Siem Reap, Cambodia and this is what Google Flights shows:
BUT if I split that flight into multiple trips, this is what I found:
Langkawi, Malaysia ➡ Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ➡ Siem Reap, Cambodia:
And VOILA. Saved a whole bunch of $ and did you also notice the travel time? Saved some of that as well 💁
*Disclaimer: These prices were researched on or before the date this post was published and may no longer be accurate.
Airbnb: There are a couple ways you can save on accommodations by booking through Airbnb. If you read my last post on How to Plan a Trip, then you’ll know I’m a big fan of Airbnb - five star accommodations at one star prices? Sign me up! Not only will you find super affordable options on Airbnb, but a lot of listings will offer a 10-15% (ish) discount when you book a stay for a week or more. Typically, you won’t know about the discount unless they either include the info in the listing description or you’ll see it once you enter your dates:
Airbnb also offers referral discounts. So if you’ve got a friend or family member who doesn’t have an Airbnb account yet, they can sign up using your code (it’s free to sign up). And in turn, they AND you will get a credit to put towards the next booking!
Now, if you don’t have an account OR any friends, I’ll be your friend and you can use my referral code here.
Hotels.com: Book 10 stays, get 1 free! And no, you won’t be able to book 10 stays at $30 each and then book your free one at $800 unfortunately. They take the average of your 10 nights and that’s what you get to spend. Oh - and make sure to download the hotels.com app too, because you get some “secret prices” this way.
Do your research for cost of transportation in the city you’ll be visiting. It’ll make it easier to plan your travels accordingly. In Bali for example, it costs $5/day (USD) to rent a scooter and $20/day to hire a car and a driver. So if you’re going somewhere super far from your home base, it might be a good idea in this case to hire a chauffeur.
Do your research in general
Having an idea of what things cost in the places you’ll be visiting never hurts. You’ll be prepared to know what you should and shouldn’t spend money on. For example, Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country and for the Muslim people, drinking is prohibited. However for those who are non-Muslim, drinking is allowed, but strongly discouraged. And to strongly discourage those who can drink, the government has set the price of alcoholic beverages at an outlandish amount to make people shy away. It pays to know beforehand (pun intended).