- Posted August 6, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
100 Ways to Travel Better: Your tips
Travel Tips: Less is More
- Jamescia, CNN iReport producer
Deciding when to go on a trip is probably the first choice in how much you’re going to be spending. Traveling during off peak times will save you the most money because hotels will have empty rooms they’re trying to fill and will offer discounted prices. Colder months are usually more affordable as well, except around Christmas, and warmer months before school gets out or after school starts. If traveling off season isn’t an option then I’d suggest using a flexible date option on most travel sites in order to find the lowest airfare. The flexible date option will let you compare airfare prices day by day for an entire month so you can pick out a cheap day and save a couple hundred dollars. If you’re using a site like Kayak or Travelocity I’d also go a step further and whichever result you find compare it to the actual airlines website, you can sometimes score extra discounts from booking online, in advance, or nonrefundable tickets.
Each trip I take I pack less and less in order to avoid fees and the hassle of baggage claim. Usually I’ll only bring one backpack and one personal bag, which also makes traveling easier with a lighter load. I learned this the hard way after arriving in London on my honeymoon with two giant rolling suitcases at a tube station that didn’t have an elevator or escalator, but a giant flight of stairs. Depending on the trip you’re taking you can usually get away with bringing only the necessities, and washing clothes at the hotel.
Picking where to stay is also a major factor in how much you’ll spend, not just on room rates. If I’m going to a major city I always look for a place almost directly next to a subway station or close to some sort of public transportation. This will help avoid taking an airport shuttle or taxi; most cities have some direct line from the airport to the downtown city area. If for some reason the city you’re going to isn’t public transportation savvy I’ll pick a place around the center or everything I plan on going to. While this isn’t always realistic I can usually line up a couple places that will be within walking or cycling distance and use the money I save on that to go towards a taxi ride.
The type of place you stay will also have a major affect on the total cost of your trip. On my husband and I’s last trip to San Francisco we decided to try and save some money by staying at a hostel. We were both very hesitant but after looking through numerous reviews and deciding the low cost would be worth it we booked a room. Not every hostel will offer this, but we were able to book a private room and private bath and the experience turned out wonderful. If you’re the type of traveler who will be out and about the majority of their trip then hosteling will be right up your alley. The hostel we stayed at offered free breakfast, free wi-fi, and discounts with local services. We saved a good chunk on renting bicycles in San Francisco since we were staying with this hostel chain, and by having a giant free breakfast every morning we saved on eating out for every meal. This is the most affordable option we’ve found so far. Before this discovery we’ve mainly stayed with the same hotel chain in order to rack up points, or we’ll look for smaller unknown hotels that offer good discounts.
The last piece of travel advice I’ve learned is to plan beforehand and figure out what you want to do ahead of time. After you have a clear list of what really interests you, start researching each attraction and finding out which discounts they offer. Almost every landmark or attraction will offer a student discount and even though I graduated over a year ago I still take advantage of it and will continue until I start getting questionable looks from my picture. Even if you don’t have a student ID there are still many ways to save on entrance fees. Most museums will have a discounted time or day, some will even have free admission, and even some bank cards can grant you free access. If you have a membership in your hometown to a certain museum there are some museums in other cities that will accept it as well. Apart from actual attractions you can also have a great time (for free) as studio audience members for talk shows or game shows. These usually have to be done in advance and some shows are harder to get tickets to then others (SNL, David Letterman are more of a lottery). I’ve also learned not to go souvenir crazy but stick to one small type of item from each place that is easy to carry and collect (postcards, bumper stickers, tiny figurines). Usually though photographs are more than enough.
|This iReport is part of an assignment that we created with Travel + Leisure: 100 Ways to Travel Better: Your tips|