Everyone likes to save money when they travel, and most people know the basics – shopping online for the best deal on a flight/hotel combination, avoiding expensive prices at the airport and using coupons whenever possible.
Related: How I Multiply My Savings
The biggest cost for most people is their flight and hotel – which is why most people focus all their saving efforts there.
But what most tend to forget are the other aspects of travel – and how they can easily save in other ways.
We recently returned from a trip to Mexico and were able to save money without sacrificing any aspect of our trip – here is how we did it.
Cable Account ‘Suspension’
When people travel they tend to focus all their saving efforts on their destination. For us, we try to save money at our destination but also back home.
One of the costs we have minimized in the past is our cable/phone/internet package. Since we aren’t home while travelling, there is no reason to continue to pay for the package that will not be used.
Our cable company offers an account ‘suspension’ – which essentially means your account is placed on hold while you are away. Different companies offer different options for travelers but most offer some type of account suspension.
Our cable company requires a minimum of 30 day account suspension. Since our most recent trip was only for 9 days, we couldn’t qualify for the full suspension – but we did downgrade our cable and internet while we were away.
The account suspension isn’t advertised (and for good reason – as a 5 minute phone call can result in huge savings) but is definitely worth it for travelers looking to save money.
Other monthly subscription costs – such as satellite radio, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, cell phone plans, and even vehicle insurance are all costs that can potentially be reduced (or eliminated) while travelling.
Transportation to/from the Airport
We happen to live on the opposite end of town from the airport, and the city is so spread out that a one-way taxi fare to the airport would cost us approximately $80. Including a tip, roundtrip transportation to/from the airport would cost us over $160.
To save money, we booked a one-way car rental instead. Budget Car Rental offers the most competitive one-way rates in our area and we managed to book two one-way rentals for a total of $31.
The car rental offered much more flexibility as we were able to stop at the grocery store on the way home and also gave us more peace of mind knowing that we didn’t have to worry about a taxi not showing up and possibly missing a flight.
When we arrived at our destination (Mexico for our latest trip) we made sure to book an airport shuttle offered by the hotel – for no additional charge. Private shuttle companies were available but they ranged in price from $40-100 per passenger.
A colleague of mine travelled to Hawaii last winter with his family for the rock-bottom price of about $1500. His secret? Home exchanges.
A home exchange is different type of accommodation which involves two parties agreeing to swap homes for a certain period. No money is exchanged – making it a popular way to save big on travel costs.
In his case he swapped homes with a couple in Honolulu that wanted to go skiing in the Canadian Rockies. While most people want to escape the cold of the winter, they actually enjoy skiing enough to want to travel to Canada in the winter – making it a perfect swap.
He described having the following perks while staying in their Hawaiian home:
- The couple owned a small fishing boat that he had access to (free of charge)
- The house came equipped with a full kitchen so they were able to save big by not eating at restaurants and instead enjoyed home-cooked food
- Extra perks like long-distance calling, wifi, full cable and snorkeling gear were all included (free of charge)
- The family saved big on laundry costs since the home had a washer & dryer
He estimates a savings of 40% off the cost of a comparable flight/hotel package.
The other side of the exchange, of course, is that he had to make his home available to the couple while they were visiting. Some may not be comfortable opening up their home to complete strangers – so this could be a huge drawback for some.
Conclusion: we haven’t had a home exchange but would definitely consider it in the future, especially for extended trips. We save on travel by cutting our fixed costs back home (cable, gym membership, cell phones, etc) and ensuring we avoid the high price of taxis.
How do you save on travel costs?