Travellers often get overwhelmed with all the of the different aspects of travel. Coupled with the fact that the best deals are hidden away and are hard to find, travellers have to be very diligent with their spending. Here are 10 ways to maximise travel value and save money.
#1: Booking hotels through links
Even if you are booking a hotel through a booking website, like booking.com or expedia.com, you still have room to save even more money. That is done by booking through links redirecting to the booking sites.
Booking sites in 2018 still are facing a competition from traditional travel agents. Not all travellers trust booking sites. That’s why booking sites are working on expanding their customer bases. This is done by offering great deals to new customers and offering special discounts for airline customers and other travel-related product customers.
How to take advantage of the discount links? When you have settled on the hotel you want to stay in, head over to any of the thousands coupon sites. The better ones are www.retailmenot.com, www.offers.com and www.dealcatcher.com. Enter “booking”, “expedia” “trivago” or your preferred booking service name in the search tab. This will lead you to a dedicated page with links that will get you around 10% discount on your booking. Book through a link and enjoy a lower price. Easy as that!
One overlooked avenue how to save money while booking a hotel is airline points and bonuses. Even budget airlines offer bonuses for booking a hotel through their links. Wizzair, a popular European budget airline, shows a small Booking.com link after a passenger books a flight. When a Wizzair customer books a hotel stay through that link, they get a bonus from Wizzair that can be used to pay for a flight. Other airlines frequently offer bonus points or flight miles for their premium card holders.
See this post for more travel-related bonus links!
#2: Travelling just before the season starts
Any traveller who has travelled during peak season will say that the experience is certainly not worth it. Higher prices and long lines are not a good recipe for a vacation. Travelling off-season is a guaranteed way to maximise travel value through lower prices and smaller lines for attractions. However, in many places of the world, off-season means bad weather and closed places of interest.
To avoid that, I recommend travelling just before the season starts. Let’s look at the travel season in southern Europe as an example. The off-season in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece is during autumn and winter months, generally from October to April. During that time the prices are the lowest, but the weather isn’t the best. Peak season is during summer months, from June to August. That means the best time to travel in Southern Europe is in May. It won’t be too hot or too cold, the lines will be short and you won’t have to deal with peak season prices.
Hotel prices during off-season are always the lowest. If you book a hotel during off-season for the period just before the season starts, you will get the best of both worlds. Low prices, short lines and all attractions working is the best deal you can get.
#3: Plan early
“Hot deals” for flights or hotels are rarer than they were 5 years ago. Travel has become much cheaper in the past decade. Because of that, more people are travelling. More people travelling means a lower chance of a hotel offering a “hot deal”, as it is more likely the hotel will be fully booked.
It’s actually more common to see a fully booked flight or a hotel, rather than an empty one. Waiting for a last minute price means that a traveller will be paying more, not less.
That’s why it’s better to plan and book early. Early booking can save anywhere from 20% to 80% of the booking price. Moreover, you’ll have more time to compare prices and you won’t be forced to make a quick decision.
For intercontinental travel, it’s best to book half a year before your travel date. It’s the best time period for getting great deals. Booking more than 6 months before travelling is risky. It is more likely that your plans will change a year before, rather than 6 months before your travel date.
#4: Optimize travel time
When you’re in the destination of your choice, it can be tempting to visit places of interest without a plan on how to minimize the time it takes to reach those places. Travelling by going back and forth between places of interest will only make you tired.
Also, it’ll waste your time, meaning it’ll also be a waste of your money you paid to stay in the destination of your choice. The best way to optimize travel time is by connecting all of the places you are going to visit by a circle, triangle, trapeze, or any other proper geometric figure. By using this hack, you won’t need to travel back just to reach another distance.
This way of maximising travel value will become more clear with an example.
Let’s say you want to visit Rome, Florence, San Marino and Livorno. You start from Rome. You decide that you want to visit Florence first, and see other sights later. Your travel map looks like this:
What if you optimized your journey?
Applying a proper geometric figure, a triangle, means you won’t have to back from San Marino to Livorno. Just by foregoing visiting Florence first, you’ll be saving a lot of precious travel time!
#5: Local shops are the best choice
Don’t be afraid to venture out deeper into local areas and shop in supermarkets and shops which are mostly used by locals. That’s how you’ll find the best prices on food.
Shops in areas frequented by tourists and shops in hotels always rip-off tourists. To avoid that and see the real local life (and food), always shop in areas further away from hotels and famous landmarks.
#6: The WiFi problem
Even with the lower roaming charges implemented in the EU, internet abroad still costs a lot. If you are travelling in other continents, data will even more. To maximise travel value, thus its experiences, you’ll want the option which at a low price will you let you access the internet everywhere. How can travellers browse the internet and use WiFi without breaking the bank?
One of the best solutions to this problem is WiFi roaming devices. Devices like Skyroam, GeeFi, Roaming Man, KeepGo, and others can be used to stay connected even in remote places. You buy or rent the roaming device, and then pay for a data plan or just buy 24 hours of roaming. If you’re travelling for a longer time, you would pay for a month of data. For shorter trips, 24 hour roaming passes are the best solution.
The best quality of roaming devices is their portability. They do not take up much space, and fit into the smallest of bags.
If you want to try out a WiFi roaming device, Skyroam is a good choice. Use this link to get a $20 discount.
#7: Getting the most out of day trips and sightseeing
If you have booked a day trip with a guide, there are many ways to get the most value out of it.
Don’t be afraid to ask your guide questions – that’s why you’re paying them. Guides also can help you out with recommendations about local places. Most guides work in only one or two locations. That means they really are in-the-know, as their focus is limited to just at most two places. They will know that hole in the wall place that locals like, so always ask your tour guides for recommendations.
Some guided tours include scheduled stops at wineries, factories, workshops or shops. If the production facility or a shop is not a well-known tourist attraction, you shouldn’t buy anything from them.
These stops are always a result of a deal of the tour operator and the production facility. The tour operator gets a cut from the vendors, while vendors get a steady stream of income in the form of tourists with open wallets. Who gets the short end of the stick? The tourists, of course, as they overpay and buy things they won’t ever use at home. If you really want to buy something at tourist trap like that, take a photo of the product. You’ll most likely find it at a lower price in a shop further away from tourist areas. If not, you can buy it on the internet at a significantly lower price.
Tourists often don’t get the most value out of walking and sightseeing tours simply because of their tiredness and forgetfulness. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes if you’re going on a walking tour. That could mean a difference between excellent memories and bad memories caused by feet pain.
Tiredness is also often a cause of lost value on sightseeing tours. Even if you’re riding on a bus or other mode of transportation, you’ll still need to be focused and wide awake to get the best experience out of them. You are likely to forget the finer details of a sightseeing tour and thus, lose more memories, if you didn’t sleep enough the night before a tour.
#8: Forget your earphones at home
Earphones are for when you’re bored and want to pass time faster. Or for blocking out unwanted noises. When you’re travelling, you’ll want time to slow down and to experience the sounds of the place you’re visiting. Don’t use your earphones when you’re on holidays. Simple as that.
#9: Don’t let bad weather ruin your trip
This advice is basic, but there are still people who forget about it. You should always be prepared for cold weather in warm places you visit. Not only does the weather change frequently, but the temperature amplitudes in warm places tend to be extreme. Hot weather at 1PM can turn into a chilly night at 8PM. To prepare for that, always take a warm sweater and a light jacket. You never know when temperature changes will catch up with you.
A raincoat is a must when travelling. An umbrella is not the best solution when you want to take in the sights, and not have to worry if your protection against the rain will get blown away by the wind. Also, a raincoat can be used to protect your backpack from rain. With the amount of electronics most people carry these days, getting your backpack wet can mean damaging products worth thousands of dollars.
#10: Thinking about finances is banned
I know it might be tempting to check on your financial portfolio and investments when you’re on holidays. That’s understandable. If you have the habit of checking the prices of stocks you own every day or looking over your financial situation every week, you won’t forget this habit on holidays.
However, travel and holidays are for making new and wonderful memories and broadening your horizons. It does not include satisfying curiosity related to your own finances. Also, there is a chance that you won’t be satisfied with the performance of your portfolio. What then? Should the holidays get ruined just because the curiosity got the best of the cat?
Checking once a week is fine during holidays. If you check more than that, you risk feeling like you’re even not on a holiday. And that defeats the purpose of maximising travel value!
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