‘I recently wrote about the things I do on the run up to trips, but I’m also always keen to make a saving with cheap deals for travelling…‘
These are my top tips for cheap travelling…
We generally use Airbnb exclusively when we road trip or go on a city break as I’m not keen on staying in hotels for more than a single night. Airbnb can be cheap and higher quality than hotels and often offers way more space.
However, on road trip, when we do spend a few single nights between destinations, I’m all about Booking.com. I booked a king room in San Antonio for £20 for 2 people (excluding tax) with 4 stars and free parking. This is down to several factors. Firstly, I travel off season when hotels are cheap as they can’t fill their rooms.
I’ve also used Booking.com often enough to be a preferred member. This gets me discounts and late checkouts, amongst other perks. So, when I *do* need somewhere to crash out for a night, I generally get a cheap price. This leaves me more money to spend on margaritas and that can never be a bad thing.
The first thing I do is check Groupon and other discount sites for cheap vouchers that can be used for airport parking. It usually costs me around £4 for a voucher for up to 25% off Manchester or Liverpool parking and it’s well worth trawling for.
We don’t hire cars in Europe, but we always have one in the US because we cover so much ground. Also, it’s hard to road trip when you’re not actually ON THE ROAD. I have loyalty to no-one an will actively check and compare every hire car company to get a deal.
Despite my lack of loyalty, there can be rewards to be had by getting loyalty cards. I don’t always go with Avis, but when I do, I’ve got a card that lets me beat the lines. It’s handy at times and can sometimes be the difference between two companies offering cars at similar prices.
What I would say is, don’t be swayed by the inevitable offer of an upgrade when you arrive at the desk. It quite often ends up costing you more in fuel or insurance and isn’t always as cheap as you think. Also, always, ALWAYS overestimate the return time.
Being a few minutes late for a return can incur an additional day’s charge, which isn’t cheap. However, being earlier than stated costs you nothing. Work out what time you’ll be returning the car and add on some additional time.
Cheap Days Out
As I do with my airport parking, I also check the voucher sites (generally Groupon) for the destinations I’m visiting. This lets me see if anything I have on my list of targets has an offer. It’s such an easy system to use and can make you a decent saving on an activity you had earmarked to do anyway.
Eating out is usually the best source of saving. Especially if you’re like me and have no real interest in where you eat for the most part and are happy trying new places.
As I mentioned, Groupon can be a great way to save some pennies if you’re into eating out. I don’t like the people so much, so part of my attraction to Airbnb apartments is the kitchen. This allows me to grocery shop and do a bit of cooking.
Not so much for evening meals, but definitely for breakfast and lunches. I’m not a fan of anything more than coffee and cereal bars during the day, so having a stock of these in the car for when I’m peckish saves me a small fortune. LT likes his food, so he’s a little less easy to keep happy with ‘car food’. He does love finding fast food, which tends to be rather cheap anyway.
I always, always check out the free attractions where ever I’m headed. Don’t get me wrong, when there’s something I want to see that has an admission charge, I’ll pay it. However, every destination I’ve ever been to has free attractions that are, in some cases, on par with their fee-charging neighbours.
It’s also a great idea to check out if your chosen spot has free days. We recently hit up the museum district in Houston on a Tuesday, when many of the main museums offer free entry. Between the Fine Art and the Natural Sciences Museums, we saved $100 on admission fees just by changing our day. Many major cities have free times or days, so have a look and arrange your visits around them.
There’s often no real need for you to take a paid guided tour around your chosen city. Often, a lil’ bit of research can give you the points of interest and history. For example, on our recent visit to Pompeii, we were accosted by tour guides outside the train station, telling us we physically couldn’t LIVE ANOTHER MINUTE without getting on their bus.
The train station at Pompeii is a two-minute walk from the famous city and, armed with the ability to use our legs, as well as the free guidebook we got, we managed to survive the entire day on our own. This meant we got to pick and choose what we wanted to see, which may not have been on the tour, and we saved a bundle where we were at it.
What do you do to keep costs down when you’re travelling?