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 – BeFrugal.com
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 BeFrugal.com, who knows the ins and outs of saving money.
Since 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 BeFrugal.com. 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.
Next, 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?
For 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 Hotels.com 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?