How to Get Cheap Flights and Other Ways to Save Big on Travel This Summer
At last! Vacation days in hand, you are ready to book the trip of your dreams. Perhaps, even to a distant locale on the other side of the globe. Who knows, you might even write a Thought Catalog post about it.
The problem? You're not the most financially-endowed individual.
That's okay, we've got you covered with a few simple but indispensable travel hacks that will help you save money on your peregrinations.
These three moves can help cut costs and leave some cash for those beachside caipirinhas.
Use an incognito window when looking for flights
As you shop around for plane tickets, websites sometimes use browser cookies to surreptitiously hike the prices you see, in what's typically referred to as "Dynamic Pricing."
In other words, the more you search for flights, the more expensive your ticket could end up being.
The best move, is an easy one: Search for flights in your browser's stealth mode, such as the "incognito" window on Google Chrome.
Going incognito achieves what the name implies: You're cookies aren't saved, which means you don't have to worry about flight costs spiking as you continue your search. You can also clear cookies on your browser, but that's a more arduous task and can also lead you to accidentally delete other important information.
If you have the luxury of lots of time before your trip, Expedia recommends that you book plane tickets at least seven weeks in advance to get the lowest possible prices on domestic flights, and about half a year ahead of time for international ones.
Of course, that won't help you this summer. But if you have any flexibility in planning a near-term trip, try searching your destination with Google's Matrix ITA tool and select "see calendar of lowest fares." Assuming you don't have to travel on very specific days, this move could save you big.
Don't stay at a hotel: Get creative
Many people are most comfortable booking brand-name hotels, particularly when going to a foreign country for the first time, and there's certainly nothing morally wrong with doing so.
But being a little extra open-minded and considering mom-and-pop hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and even housesitting can shave huge sums off your travel costs.
Airbnb is a popular option, and it is worth considering in many big cities. But a great long-term investment is signing up for a site like Trusted Housesitters. It costs $7.99 a month, but a membership gives you the option to stay at homes around the world for free — as long as you're willing to follow rules and actually manage and care for the house you're staying in — for as little as a weekend to as long as a year, the site claims.
That means that for less than $100 a year, you could enjoy free lodging as you see the world — like the Trusted Housesitters users below, a couple so happy about their globetrotting that they vlog about it.
Prevent foreign fees on your credit and debit cards
Withdrawing cash in another country might seem like an innocuous task, but fees can add up very quickly.
And it's most common, according to Value Penguin, to receive a 3% foreign transaction fee on your bill whenever you swipe your credit card abroad. Banks typically add a charge between $1 and $5 whenever you take out cash.
Luckily, there are some options to avoid these fees. One way is through opening an account with a bank that's a part of the Global ATM Alliance. You can use any bank within the network — the alliance has a presence on all continents — and see the normal foreign fees waived when you take out foreign currency. You can check out the full list of banks here.
If your current bank is not in the network, don't fret: Give them a call and ask if they have any sister or brother banks — or their own ATMs, if they are international — in the country to which you are traveling which is likely for many. You might get lucky.
A few credit cards actually explicitly waive foreign transaction fees and some checking accounts actually reimburse ATM fees worldwide, which means you can swipe to your heart's content.
Accounts with no ATM fees include the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account, and credit card options with no transaction fees include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Capital One Venture Card — though if you choose the latter, remember that you are indirectly supporting Samuel L. Jackson's weird hipster ads.