This weekend I talked to several people interested in learning how to save money on travel and they want help getting started. If you are just getting started or think this may be a good time to expand your horizons, I hope this post will be helpful.
My first suggestion is to think about where you want to go and to set some goals. It could be a drive to a city less than two hours from your home, a trip to Hawaii, Asia, Europe, Disney or anywhere else in the world.
Decide the type of trip you prefer. Are you looking for adventure, relaxing beach getaway, family vacation with young children, learning retreat, romantic escape or some other type of vacation.
Make a list of your top 3-5 destinations.
Do some research about each of these locations. Go online, take a few books out from your local library or go to the bookstore and look through the travel section and find out more about the places you want to visit.
What is the best way to get to your destination? Whether you fly, take a train, a boat, drive or a combination you need to think about your transportation options when planning your next trip.
Where will you stay when you travel? Are you timeshare owner, staying with friends or relatives, camping or need a hotel?
Will you need a rental car, use taxis or public transportation? Once you reach your destination, how will you get around? Depending on the time of year and destinations renting a car can cost more than you may have thought. It is important to look into this part of your trip when you start to make your travel plans.
What type of traveler are you? First class or nothing, budget or somewhere in the middle, decide what type of travelers you are to make your vacation enjoyable for you and your traveling partner(s).
Plan ahead even if you book at the last minute. Travel planning saves you money!
How flexible are your travel plans? Being more flexible in your travel plans may help you save money on your next trip. Whether it is the time of year you travel, day of departure you select, time of day you fly, the airport you select or your accommodations, flexibility in your travel plans is a great saving tool.
When I started setting my goals to save on travel in 2000, I had five travel goals.
1-Free hotels or low cost stays in or near New York City, Baltimore and/or Washington, D.C.
2-Family ski trip out west during Christmas break from school
3-Week in Hawaii with my family
4-Trip to Disney/Universal Studios
5-Trip for two to London or Paris
We had some flexibility, but my sons were in school and my husband was a teacher so the school calendar limited our travel to winter break and summers. When we travel we stay in hotels and middle of the road chain hotels were fine with us while traveling with our children. The thought of eating out every meal seemed to difficult and costly for us, so I looked for reasonable priced clean hotels with free breakfast, a refrigerator and as a bonus a kitchen.
Since I did not have much flexibility in our dates of travel, I considered options other than the international airport closes to our home. Southwest Airlines had not yet come to Philadelphia, but if we drove an an extra hour to Baltimore I learned I was able to earn award tickets for all of us to fly free to Utah for a ski trip in December.
All of my goals were achieved much quicker than I had ever imagined, so I set more goals and achieved them too. Now my husband and I have new travel goals and I will share them with you in another post. Let me help you achieve your travel goals.
My next post in this Getting Started series will be about hotel frequent guest programs and how to use them to help you save on accommodation for your trip.