August 7th, 2013/Travel/By /

Travel: The Best Travel Hacks to Save Thousands on Flights and Hotels

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“The World is a book, and those who don’t travel only read one page”

I’ve traveled quite a bit the past few years and along the way I’ve picked up a lot of strategies to save money on flights and hotels. I love saving money on traveling because the savings can go towards a better experience, or even more trips.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. A trip that can cost someone else $3,000, I can spend half of that without sacrificing quality.

There’s not going to be any advice on super cheap traveling such as hostels, backpacking, or couch surfing because that’s not my style.

Accommodations

1) www.AirBnb.com – You can rent out someone’s apartment or a room. If you’re staying for a few days or a few weeks, do you really wanna be in a hotel room? Renting out someone’s apartment makes me feel at home.

Make sure you check the reviews. I would never stay at a place that doesn’t have any reviews. Also some listings have photos that are “AirBnb” verified which means they are 100% accurate because an AirBnB photographer took the pictures. 

If you are going to stay somewhere for a few days or a few weeks, make sure you schedule cleaning services and fresh towels.

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Around $150 a night for an apartment in Manhattan vs the $300+ a night most hotels want. 

2) HotWire – Sometimes hotels need to sell their rooms at a discounted rate because it’s better to have a room sold at a discount than to have an empty room. The problem is a hotel like the Wynn in Vegas has a reputation and brand to maintain so they can’t advertise theirs rooms for $125.

What Hotwire does is you book a hotel WITHOUT knowing the name until you’ve paid for it. All you know is the * rating, amenities, and rough location of where the hotel is.

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The good news is you can use betterbidding.com and figure out what your hotel is judging by the few details they do give.

I was at a conference a few years back and I was able to stay at the Wynn for $125 a night. My friend stayed in the same type of room next door, but was paying the full $250 night.

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3) Agoda. Asia is my favorite place to travel to and I always use Agoda to book my hotel rooms. It has reviews, low prices, and I’ve earned points for free hotel nights.

4) HotelTonight. It’s an Android / iPhone app that shows hotels that have discounts for that night. If you’re heading somewhere and don’t have a hotel booked yet, I’d check here first.

5) Enroll in Credit Card Programs – If you’re going to spend money, why not earn points towards travel?

Some cards such as the skymiles card offers perks such as early boarding and no fees for extra bags.

My favorite website to find credit card deals is NerdWallet.

Another one that is updated frequenty is WalletHub’s travel credit card site.

Here’s an example of a card bonus I used. I saw the Chase Sapphire Card a few months back and it looked like a great card.  They give you 40,000 points if you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. 40,000 points is worth around $500 in travel rewards.

My Credit Cards: American Express Centurion, American Express Starwoods Preferred Guest, Chase Preferred Sapphire, Capital One Sparks

If you put your business expenses on a business credit card, the rewards can add up very fast.

5) Enroll in the hotel rewards program. Only takes one minute to sign up at the desk and you get a lot of convenient bonuses.

6) The $20 Trick. When the hotel clerk asks for you a credit card and your ID, slip a $20 bill in between. Casually ask, “Hey I was wondering, are there are any upgrades available?”

If yes, they’ll take the cash and give you a decent upgrade. If there’s not, they’ll give you the $20 back.

F) Tether your phone. Instead of paying $15 a night for internet, tether your smart phone and use your phone’s internet with your laptop. For jailbroken iPhones there’s MyWi. I found an article with different methods for Android phones.

Flights

You don’t have to rely on travel agents anymore.

1) Flight Fox – Do you have a complicated flight? Not sure the best way to spend your miles? You can describe your flight and experts will send their recommendations. It costs $25.

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2) Matrix Airfare  – This is my #1 place to find flights (it’s owned by google). It’s the software that powers kayak.com, orbitz.com,

Flight Calendar

 

3) SeatGuru – Most airlines lets you choose your seats when you’re boarding. How do you know which ones are good and which ones are bad?

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4) USE CHROME INCOGNITO MODE TO BOOK FLIGHTS – Flight search engines will place a cookie on your computer. If you come back to the site, they will automatically increase the flight prices to pressure you to buy tickets.

5) It can be cheaper to split flights up on two separate tickets. I fly from Atlanta to Bangkok twice a year. One thing that helps is I’ll fly to LA and hang out there for a night.

And then take a separate flight from LA to BKK. LA to BKK has a LOT more airlines and flight options than ATL -> Bangkok

Warning: Make sure there is enough time between the two trips. If your first trip is delayed and you end up missing the 2nd one…that’s bad.

6) Don’t get on the Airplane. Lets say I’m in LA and want to go to Atlanta. The price could be $500 because the flights are getting full.

What you can do is book a flight from LA to a less busy airport such as Charlotte that has a connecting flight in Atlanta. I just get off that flight in Atlanta and don’t show up for the one to Charlotte. I’ve saved $150 on flights before.

7) An alternative to flying economy. No one likes flying in coach and I don’t like spending $5,000+ on business class tickets either. Some airlines have an extra class between economy and business called “Premium Economy.” I’ve flown it on Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific.

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You get more legroom, wider seats, more recline, and better food. The price varies a lot. I think it usually costs roughly 20% more.

8) Book flights direct with the airline. I use websites to search for the flights, but I actually book the flight from the airline’s website. Booking through Orbitz and expedia can add different fees to your total and if you need to change your plans, it becomes more difficult. Eliminate the middle man.

9) The Best Time to Book a Flight – Research shows 8 weeks before the flight is the best time.

There you go. All my tips and hacks on how I’ve saved money on traveling the past few years.

If you’re on the fence about traveling, just do it! Don’t wait until the “time is right.” What happens is you get older, more responsibilities with your job, get married, and have kids. The longer you wait, the harder it’ll be to travel.

If you want something, you will find a way to get it. I’ve wasted money on a lot of stupid shit in my life but I’ve never regretted a single cent I’ve spent with traveling. I’ve become a better person with a broader perspective because of it.

You only have one life. Have an adventure, explore.

– Ngo Out