1. Do not wait until the last minute to buy a plane ticket. Some people think that airlines sell the seats at the last minute for really cheap in order to fill up the plane. However, this is not the case: the day before the flight is the most expensive time to buy the ticket. Buying the ticket a year in advance isn’t the best either; the ideal time to buy a ticket is 2–3 months before your trip in order to get the best deal.
2. When visiting a foreign country, a hotel chain like Hilton can charge more because the chain is recognizable. Be willing to sleep in hotels whose names you do not recognize or ask around in order to find good places to stay. Check online to see if there are any reviews available as well.
3. For domestic travel, signing up for a hotel rewards program can really save you money.
4. If you have kids, a portable DVD player or portable video games are essential to keeping a child happy on those long flights and car rides.
5. Try not to check a bag. Travel as light as possible to avoid paying fees for your luggage. This will also decrease the odds that the airlines will lose your luggage since the unchecked bag is either on your lap or above your head.
6. If you have a long flight, try a sleeping pill like ZZZQuil to snooze through the whole process. Just make sure you take it after the plane takes off in case there are delays that force you to change planes.
7. Negotiate with the hotel front desk to see if they can upgrade your room or give you free room service. It never hurts to ask.
8. Hotels are great, but there is more than one way to get a good night’s sleep. Services like couchsurfing.com allow you to sleep on someone’s couch for free, while unusualhotelsoftheworld.com (Unusual Hotels of the World) lets you sleep in unique places such as lighthouses and tree houses.
9. People with two homes are always looking to make a profit with each. This is awesome for the traveler because you can get a whole house in the heart of almost any city for the price of some hotels. A great site to help you find some of these deals is homeaway.com. Keep in mind that you’ll be speaking to the owners of the houses so they can charge whatever they want. Feel free to negotiate.
10. Always check your beds for bedbugs: they live on the wooden or metal frame of a bed or even on the mattress. Never put your luggage on a bed before checking for bedbugs because you do not want to take those bloodsuckers home with you.
11. If you are good at paying off your credit card every month then a card that gives you miles for your purchases can be a great tool for making that vacation happen. Just make sure that the fees and other catches associated with the card make the miles worth it.
12. Websites like yapta.com help in finding the best airline rate.
13. Getting travel insurance can be a lifesaver if you end up halfway around the world without your bags, especially with expensive trips that won’t refund you for anything. Some credit card companies, such as American Express, have travel insurance.
14. Make copies of your passport, emergency phone numbers, and any other documents that would ruin your trip if you lost them. Then back them up to an online server or the cloud. The internet is everywhere so backing up this information will allow you to get these important documents back if the worst-case scenario happens.
15. Signing up for e-newsletters for the airlines, rental car companies, and hotels you use will let you know about the greatest promotions each is having.
16. Getting an app like GasBuddy can prevent you from overpaying on gas. When driving on the freeway, the gas right next to the exit is often a lot more expensive than gas that is just two miles into town. You can save a lot of money by avoiding overpriced gas.
17. Use traveler review sites in order to get tips about where to eat in the city, hotels to stay in, and places to avoid.
18. Make your smartphone work as hard as it can. There are amazing travel apps and websites you can use on a trip. You should also email yourself every important document before you leave home.
19. When traveling abroad, try using skype instead of dealing with calling cards; video skype is free and very user friendly. Just make sure you set up the account and test it before your trip to avoid the added stress.
20. To get the best and most authentic souvenirs, go to the parts of the city where the souvenirs are made.
21. Open your mouth! English is spoken all around the world and body language is spoken everywhere. Don’t feel too bashful to ask the locals for advice about where to eat and what to do. They are the experts because they have spent their lives in this city.
22. As a note to number 21, talking super slowly and yelling is not going to make anyone understand English better. Be courteous and if the first person you talk to doesn’t speak or understand English then try again.