“Home is where the heart is” – Gaius Plinius “Pliny the Ender” Secundus
When I think about traveling I think about family. Instantly my mind becomes a symphonic blur of memories of Aunt Penny basting a roast, Tyler setting up another family board game, Uncle Cy’s Cinnamon Butternut Squash Soup, fireworks bursting overhead on 4th of July and the smell of a burning fireplace as we watch the snow fall at Christmas. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, when I think of family I’m transported to times and places so grand and far away.
If your family is like mine you travel quite a distance to see them, and doing so takes some real money and planning. Here are a few secrets I’ve realized to greatly help cut some of that cost!
1.) Monday Funday
Did you know airlines have a pattern for when they post/adjust prices? Business travel is a huge influencer on the market, and Mondays are the biggest travel days for corporate airfare and car rental. Also, consumers usually buy online Friday through the weekend so prices generally start low on Monday and steadily increase throughout the week.
2.) Credit yourself for a change
You’re probably aware you can get travel points for singing up for various credit cards, you might not be aware of the best strategy to use for maximizing this opportunity. I highly recommend review my article on Budgeting, then consider the following:
- You can usually cancel one line of credit each year without a negative impact to your credit score (they do look at how long your OLDEST line of credit has been around so don’t cancel that one)
- You can usually sign up for the same card again and again to get new member points (usually you simply have to wait until the new member period is up)
- You can charge many of your regular expenses on your credit card, get points, and simply pay off the card immediately and still keep the points!
I’ve used probably close to 750,000 points so far in my life with a 780 credit score. If you stay disciplined to spend on the things you need and avoid most of what you want you’ll come out ahead!
3.) The early adopter gets the worm
Keep your eyes out for new, emerging travel programs where there is little cost to enter. Remember AirBnB? Before it was a household name you could often find rooms for rent in top destinations for 20-50% of what a hotel room cost! Now I recommend checking out http://www.trustedhousesitters.com which is a new, emerging travel program for pet lovers to unite!
Some other great tips:
- Prior to booking search your destination for conventions, festivals, and local attractions around the dates you are looking to travel. Book AFTER these events as there can be a significant drop in both airlines and hotel stays usually 2-3 days after major events.
- International travel: A good time to book seems to be around February every year as I see major airlines offering great travel points and price discounts. If you’re flexible on your dates you might get to go somewhere amazing for cheap!
- Checked bags: Some airlines offer free checked bags. For the ones that don’t I recommend soft-sided carry-ons like backpacks where you can really maximize the space and ‘cheat’ your way onto the plane with a couple extra inches. Also, if your bag is close enough in size some airlines will check your bag at the counter for free as a way to say thanks for opening up overhead space.
These tips will help you expand your horizons and find some more quality time with friends and loved ones this year!