Manage Money Like a Pro – Summer Travel Edition

By on Jul 1, 2013 | Personal Finance | 12 comments

Manage Money Like a Pro – Summer Travel Edition

Summer is in full swing, and many people are looking for opportunities to get away from their normal routines. It’s a great time to take a vacation and you may be planning a trip for you and your family in the coming weeks. Since summer travel can get expensive, our first edition of the Manage Money Like a Pro series highlights ways to save money while traveling.

Jon Lal –

Our Manage Money Like a Pro articles feature interviews with financial experts and professionals, who share their knowledge to help you maker smarter financial decisions. This summer travel edition features Jon Lal, founder of the cash back and coupons website, who knows the ins and outs of saving money.

Manage Money Like a Pro - Summer Travel Edition - Jon LalSince launching BeFrugal in 2009, Jon helped shoppers save more than $20 million dollars – an average of 27% per order on online purchases. He recently launched a cash back program so shoppers can earn money – an average of 7% on more than 3000 stores – when they shop online. And shoppers can “double-up” their savings by combining cash back with coupon codes and free shipping deals posted on Prior to founding BeFrugal, Jon founded Winferno Software, a consumer security software company. He holds a BS in Finance and Economics from California State University, and is a CFA charter holder.

Summer Travel Money Saving Tips

My interview with Jon focused on ways to save money when flying, driving, picking hotel and vacation packages and finding great local restaurants.

Many people look forward to summer vacation all year, but travel can be expensive. What’s your #1 tip for saving money during the summer travel season?

Take advantage of travel discounts. In addition to senior discounts – which are available for people as young as 50 – there are other ways to make a travel reservation for less. Daily deal sites are a great place to look, and many travel providers also publish promo codes as well as offer incentives including reduced prices for a limited time. Social media, email communication, travel deal blogs and coupon websites are great sources of information for travel specials and promo codes.

Plane Tickets and Hotels

It’s hard to get away without flying. What is the best way to find the cheapest airline tickets?

First, determine whether flying is the smartest travel mode. The free Fly or Drive Calculator can help compare the total cost and travel time of any trip for both driving and flying.

Manage Money Like a Pro - Summer Travel Edition - Expedia DealsNext, take advantage of more savings by booking online. If you hear of a special sale that an airline is having, book while it is offered. Always look for a promo code for a discount on your travel needs and earn cash back (a portion of your total that you get to keep) by clicking through a cash back shopping website such as BeFrugal to the travel company. You can often combine a discount from a promo code and earn cash back on the same transaction.

In addition, travelers as young as 50 can take advantage of senior programs from some airlines for reduced rates. Some airlines will require a phone call for this, while others are able to book online with the senior discount.

Also, don’t rule out flying from a different airport if there is an alternative airport nearby. For example, flights from Buffalo NY can be compared to Toronto (where international flights can be cheaper as well as shorter) and Rochester NY.

What about saving money on hotels and vacation packages?

Manage Money Like a Pro - Summer Travel Edition - Summer SaleFor hotels, inquire about senior discounts or other special pricing offers through memberships such as AAA. Deals may also be available for a percentage off your total or a free night when you stay subsequent nights. You can learn about such offers on travel blogs and coupon websites as well as by reading emails that are sent to you by major hotel companies. Looking on sites such as or Travelocity may also uncover savings. They may have reduced rates and a promo code may be available for additional savings.

How can I keep connected to the Internet on the road for less?

Use a free app such as Wi-Fi Finder to locate W-Fi hotspots near you while you travel. If you are traveling internationally, use voice over internet phone (VoIP) to save on phone conversations and rather than traditional text messaging, use an app for free international texting like HeyWire.

Driving and Restaurants

If driving to my destination, how can I save money on gas?

If your grocery store has a gas station in the store’s parking lot, cash in your membership points for reduced gas prices.

Along the way to your destination, seek out gas stations with reduced gas prices with an app like Gas Buddy, Local Gas Prices or Cheap Gas. Looking at your route, you may also see that you pass an Indian reservation, which may have lower prices due to tax differences.

Another option is to cash in credit card reward points for gift cards to purchase gas with.

Where can I look to find the best deals on restaurants?

In addition to getting restaurant coupons online from your favorite coupon website, look on Yelp to see where the locals eat. The restaurants they prefer are less likely to be expensive tourist traps. In addition, daily deal sites often post specials for restaurants for about half price and using FourSquare can also uncover nearby dining offers.

I appreciate Jon taking the time to share some tips for saving money during the summer travel season. With just a little bit of research online and some free app downloads, you can potentially save hundreds and thousands of dollars on your next vacation.

Got any more awesome tips for saving money on summer travel?


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12 Comments on “Manage Money Like a Pro – Summer Travel Edition”

  1. Derek |

    Great tips! We also try to bring a cooler and pack enough for lunch (sandwiches) and bring milk/cereal to save on eating out.

    • Anton Ivanov

      Bringing your own food and drinks on road trips (or day trips) is a great idea. Even water bottles can be expensive. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  2. Pauline

    The RV rental companies have some 95% off deals if you bring back the RV to another of their agencies. For example Chicago to San Diego. That would make a fabulous road trip, paying only 5% and a flight back.

    • Anton Ivanov

      Thanks for the great tip and stopping by! It definitely pays to shop around for the best deals instead of buying the first plane ticket/vacation/rental package you see.

  3. Rita P @ Digital Spikes

    Very good list for travelers, Also if possible carry food with you which you have purchased in bulk from your local warehouse so you can save money for couple of days or until food list

    • Anton Ivanov

      Thanks for sharing that tip and stopping by!

  4. Thobile Gnegri

    A good way I found to put a curb on, or at least better monitor, your spending while away is to use travel money cards. I used to spend obscene amounts of cash when on holidays, as it was just there in bulk in my wallet and before a second glance I’d be spending a big chunk of it on meals. Oh well, we live and learn.

    • Anton Ivanov

      Travel cards or pre-paid debit cards can be a way to save money by essentially setting a spending cap for your summer vacation. I would be careful using them, however, since many charge high fees for the service.

  5. Peta

    Great tips! You should start saving for a vacation at the beginning of each year.

    • Anton Ivanov

      Or even earlier! Not only can you begin saving money and avoid going into debt, but you can also save by purchasing plane tickets, vacation packages and hotel stays ahead of time.

  6. Shobir | Find Some Money

    The resources here are excellent for people who like to travel and save money at the same time. I love traveling, and in the past I’ve gotten into financial trouble spending recklessly on having a great time. I’ve learned thanks to sites like yours that you can have fun and save money at the same time. I really hope you become financially independent soon. Great post, thanks for sharing.

    • Anton Ivanov

      Thanks, and I hope for the best for you as well!

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