The old saying about, “all work and no play” is certainly true in this day and age. Every once in awhile we need to take a break from our routines and let off a little steam. Going on a nice vacation does not have to cost a fortune but to save money it takes a little planning. Here are some ideas I’ve found for saving money while traveling.
Credit Card Points
This one is certainly a hot potato in the Debt Free Community but it’s always been my contention that, used responsibly, credit cards are NOT a bad thing. The operative word here is RESPONSIBLY. If you cannot use credit cards without running the risk of overspending or worse, carrying balances, you should cut the cards and close the accounts.
If you can use credit responsibly, there are a myriad of cards that offer points on flights, rental cars, and hotels. Hubs and I use a card to earn points on hotel stays. Several years back when I was running races pretty regularly I had a race scheduled in the land of the Mouse. There is a non-Mouse property located just outside one of the parks where we were able to use our points to cover our stay. Can you imagine staying in Orlando at a 4 star resort for 4 nights and it not costing a cent? It can be done!
If you’re not using credit cards or don’t have enough points accumulated to cover flights or hotel stays there are still ways you can save. Many organizations such as AAA, AARP, AMAC or even your Credit Union offer discounts for travel. Warehouse membership clubs also offer discounts on travel. The fee to join is small and the savings can be significant so it’s worth looking into.
If you or a family member are a military member or a veteran, there are additional discounts available to you. The Military Wallet has a comprehensive list of available discounts for military members. Some of these discounts are only available to active duty members on official travel orders but some are available to all as long as you have an ID card or a DD-214.
Active duty and veterans also have access to the Armed Forces Recreation Center resorts located around the world. Fees are typically based on rank and non-military family members can stay as well as long as the military member is present. We’ve stayed at Shades of Green in Florida and Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Germany and had a wonderful time at both.
If you’re planning a trip to Orlando or Anaheim, one of the best resources I’ve found is Military Disney Tips. Steve Bell has been writing his blog for over 10 years and is always on top of all Orlando-related military discounts (not just Disney!). He has written a several guidebooks and is usually the first to know of any special discounts available to military members and veterans. We’ve saved a lot of money by following his advice.
If you’re not a military member or a member of a warehouse club or credit union you can still save on travel by using a travel agent. Contrary to popular belief, it does not cost extra to use a travel agent. According to TravelPulse.com, you can usually get more for less money by using a travel agent to book your vacation. The really good travel agents earn their fees through commissions from the travel vendors and not through their clients. Ask trusted friends for referrals or check reviews online. Give the agency a call and find out how long they’ve been in business. If they’ve been around for 10+ years you can be pretty sure they’re a good one.
In addition to traditional travel agencies, there are also numerous websites that offer discounts on hotels, flights and car rentals. To save the most money using these sites you normally have to pay in advance so proceed with caution if you choose to book your travel this way.
Peak vs Off Peak Travel
If your schedule is flexible enough it is worth your while to book your travel during the off-peak season. What is peak season and what is off-peak season varies quite a bit by location so you need to do a bit of research to determine the timing of your trip. An added bonus to travel during off-peak season is it is usually MUCH less crowded. Hubs, Sonny and I traveled for yet another race to the land of the Mouse several years ago. We were there in January and were able to see the parks still decked out for Christmas but without the crowds and the added peak season expense. It was beautiful! If you can swing it time-wise, travel during the off-peak season whenever possible.
These are some of my money saving travel tips. What are some of yours? Please share in the comments.
Be well and God Bless – until we meet again…