Sorry folks, I just got REALLY excited about the money I saved while scheduling my trip to California in a couple of months. This inspired me to create a post regarding budget travel tips!
1. AIRPORT PARKING
Looking for a good deal on airport parking? Don’t stop until you find it! I was scouring the internet trying to find the best deal I possibly could for parking. I thought a $51 offer I found sounded pretty good compared to most of the other long-term parking. I stumbled upon this Groupon – which got me REALLY excited! It’s the little things in life, right? Now, thanks to that Groupon, my parking for 1 week at BWI will be $30. Not bad huh?
2. RENTAL CARS
USAA is my car insurance carrier and I usually get a pretty good discount from them. I was curious, however, to know if I could do better. So I did some searching and narrowed down a few coupon codes for Budget Rental Car. The price with USAA’s discount (for a compact vehicle for 1 week) would have been $286 or so. I found a code on Retail Me Not, an awesome resource for those who may be unfamiliar, and was able to get it down to about $272.
You can find some pretty good hotel bargains on Livingsocial or Groupon, but I’m pretty broke so I tend to look even deeper. I do tons of Google searching to find the best deal possible. So far i’ve had the best luck scouring sites TripAdvisor and plain ol’ Google. Typically i’ll try typing in Google the generic “cheap motels in (blah blah)” to get an idea of what prices are like. If I can’t find anything i’m happy with, I use Google maps to look at smaller towns close to the area. For example, I was recently looking for a cheap motel in Santa Cruz, CA. Well, the cheap ones in that area were rather….er…..terrifying looking. So I looked on the map to see what smaller towns were right around it. I ended up finding an inexpensive little motel just minutes away from Santa Cruz! I checked TripAdvisor and read some reviews just to make sure it looked alright.
A lot of people probably won’t want to hear this, but go to the grocery store! You will most likely have a microwave and/or a fridge where you are staying, so be sure to put them to use. This doesn’t mean you should never eat at a restaurant, but if you’re REALLY on a budget, this will save you! Some hotels even have deals with local restaurants that give customers a percentage off.
At this point I can only really speak about Southwest since I do pretty much all of my flying with them. That being said, I have found that buying tickets in advance has been most advantageous. I was looking at some tickets for October that were $186 or so each way. Now, those tickets have jumped up to over $300 and some of the time slots are unavailable. I found some tickets for one month later that are $167 each way. I decided on the later trip…..obviously. 😉
It’s really about how busy your flight will get. Since this can be hard to predict (unless it’s during peak travel times like holidays), you’re better off buying a couple of months early if you find an affordable price. Rates are constantly changing so it’s hard to pick a ‘perfect’ time to buy. The wonderful thing about Southwest is you can change your flight if you find one cheaper and they will credit your account with the extra money you spent on the previous ticket. Look out for the expiration date though! After a certain date, those funds can no longer be used. And that = sad 🙁
Oh and if you sign up for the Southwest credit card, that helps you acquire points. I even got a free roundtrip after signing up for my card. saweeeeet!
None of this is rocket science but I have saved quite a bit of money doing things this way. I hope these help you, even if only a little!