Many families are travelling for the holidays and that means extra strain on our budgets. With proper planning, we can save while on the go. Here are some hacks I used while on the east coast this past week.
1. Airline Tickets & Deals
- Here’s one of my favorite travel hacks: Use rewards points/miles from your credit card to buy your tickets. If that isn’t an option for you, you can purchase a discount airline gift card on Raise, and use that to book your flights. I did this for American Airlines and saved about 3% on my tickets. Also, try to pack light and use a small suitcase less than 50 lbs that fits it in the overhead bin. American Airlines charged us 25$ per bag so make it count if you have to do that.
2. Cheap Hotels
- I used Hotels.com to purchase a discount card on Raise and then used that discount card to pay for the hotel. I was able to get between 3 and 7 percent off the already discounted rates you get from hotels.com. Do this enough times, and you’ll earn a free night on them.
- If there are issues with the hotel that couldn’t be addressed by the staff, politely ask for a discount when checking out. The worst they can say is no. I tried this and received a refund of 50$.
3. Use Rewards When Eating Out
- My credit card offers between 5% and 10% cash back when going to specific restaurants. If you happen to find yourself in one of those restaurants, be sure to pay with the card that offers that discount. Even if your credit card doesn’t offer cashback, using a site like ebates or swagbucks can help you get cash back from the purchases in your paypal account.
- The Cash app, which we’ve written about numerous times also offers 10% at Chick-fil-A, Dominos, and 1$ off at Coffee Shops.
4. Prep Meals Ahead of Time For the Skies
- Airlines now charge 10$ or more for meals on the flight. We packed sandwiches, veggies, and cut up fruit for our trip. There were no problems getting our little mini cooler through security. This saved a family of 5 over $100 dollars.
5. Avoid Car Rental Traps
- More travel hacks: If you are a member of Costco, check for the Costco discount first before renting, that will usually save you a few percentage points on top of the reward you’ll receive for using a credit card with rewards.
- Check if your auto insurance company covers collision insurance before adding on potentially unnecessary insurance to your rental fee.
- Make sure you bring your own phone with Apple/Google/Waze on it, and bring a little mount for the vents so you can mount your phone on the dash. I also bring a cigarette lighter to USB charging adapter, but most cars have these built in by default. This will avoid the upsell for a GPS unit, or a cigarette lighter charger.
- Avoid the option to have the rental company refill the gas for you at the end of the trip. Instead, give yourself a bit more time, and use an app like Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas station on the way back to the rental return.
6. Load Up on Movies
- Netflix has a feature to download movies locally so you don’t need to be online to watch. Not all movies qualify, but you should be able to browse their “downloadable” section before leaving on your trip with your kids, finding something they will enjoy during the flight. This will save you from having to pay to use the airlines in-flight entertainment system.
- Final Travel Hack: Bring extra chargers too to keep those phones and tablets topped off.