Is a dream vacation on your 2018 wishlist? Start now, and you could find yourself paying less – or maybe nothing – for that trip of a lifetime!
There are tons of online resources dedicated to travel hacking. Some bloggers believe that real travel hacking has to involve a mistakenly published low rate or a way to game the system in the traveler’s favor. I believe that anything that allows me to pay less than retail pricing for my travel is a hack. That includes using websites to find the best bargain prices, stacking discount offers, and my favorite, loyalty programs.
Here are five things you can do to start getting ready for next year’s vacation today if you want to pay less for your travel.
Use a price predictor If you have a trip in mind, you can load destinations and dates into the app and get alerts when the price drops. Kayak.com offers a price trends feature, but I really like the Hopper app on my iPhone. I can store several potential trips at once, and see which destinations are trending up or down over time.
Get social. Even if you don’t love social media (Uncle Fred’s political rants – am I right?), it can be a bargain traveler’s best friend. Sign up for Instagram for enough travel inspiration to inspire wanderlust in even the biggest homebody. Twitter is not only great for keeping up with flash sales but some brands, like Marriott, give away loyalty points for interacting with their Twitter account.
Be loyal. Signing up for loyalty programs can earn you free hotel nights, car rental upgrades, and even free or discounted flights. Most companies offer a status or loyalty program. If you are not sure which program is right for you, check out my article on choosing a program to get started. As soon as you join a loyalty program, find the website page that outlines all the ways you can earn points or miles to learn how you can optimize your earning power. I get miles for everything from car rentals to buying paper towels, and those miles can add up fast.
Pay as you book. These days, lots of travel providers, from car rental companies to hotels, offer big discounts for prepaying. You can save 30% or more in some cases by paying at the time of making your reservation. I like to prepay for as much of my trip as possible, so I can get the best rates, and save all my travel dollars for great experiences and yummy local foods.
If you simply cannot wait to tour Westminster Abbey, and Sunday is your only day in London, I have some bad news for you. Although we may be on vacation when we travel, whatever city we are visiting is home to someone. Churches have services on Sundays, and some museums close one day per week. Do some homework about that dream destination before you book if there are things you simply cannot bear to miss to make sure you can see everything as planned.