Help me, I'm poor
Spring Break looming, which means it’s time to raid your rainy day fund and make some plans to see the world. Read on for some serious intel on stretching your vacay dollars.
MAKE A FRIEND WHO WORKS FOR AN AIRLINE OR A HOTEL
If you read my post about working for a travel company, you already know it’s awesome, though I left out the most important part: the perks. And those can often extend to close friends and relatives. Most hotel chains have employee or friends-and-family rates that are much cheaper than what you’ll pay as a nobody. Similarly, some airlines offer their employees “buddy passes”, which allow you to fly standby for the cost of fees and taxes only.
The takeaway: Make nice to someone who works in the industry.
Airlines charge for everything these days, but a few of them have gone extreme and even make you pay for a carry-on. The upside is that these carriers typically have rock-bottom prices (since they’ve decided to make their money by charging for incidentals). WOWair and Spirit offer super inexpensive flights within the U.S. and to Europe, with the catch that you can only bring a purse or backpack.
The takeaway: Embrace your minimalist self if you wanna fly on the cheap.
TRAVEL WHEN NO ONE ELSE WANTS TO
In travel-speak, the calendar is divided into “peak” and “off-peak”. Translated, that means everyone travels during the holidays, spring break and over the summer, so that’s when everything costs the most. If you can be flexible and squeeze in that bucket list trip to Rome in October or May, you’ll pay a lot less than if you follow the crowd. Another tip: hotels in major cities are often the cheapest on Sunday night, when all the corporate travelers are still home.
The takeaway: Break the mold and put off that summer vacation til fall.
ONE WORD: SKIPLAGGED
The airline site Skiplagged uses a loophole called a “hidden-city flight”, which they explain as “a flight where you get off at the layover rather than the final destination. For example, a flight from New York to San Francisco might be $300, but a similar flight from New York to Seattle with a layover in San Francisco might be $200.” Brilliant, right? There are more than a few catches, though, including that you can’t check luggage (can’t get it at the layover), you should only get a one-way ticket (airlines cancel returns for no-shows), and the airline might get pissed at you.
The takeaway: Use this one at your own risk.
GET THE EXTRA VALUE MEAL
Let’s cut to the chase: things are cheaper when you buy them bundled. Just like burger + fries + drink together < buying each of those items separately, the same is true when it comes to airfare and hotel stays. This can be especially true for pricier trips. Your best bet for finding these is to look on travel search engines like Hotels.com.
The takeaway: Save yourself the hassle and do a one-stop shop.
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