Are you ready to get out there and see the world?
I know I am. After a three-year pandemic-enforced travel hiatus, this year I am on the go.
So far in 2022, I’ve racked up travel miles in Panama, Ireland, and Costa Rica, and I’m planning a couple of weeks in Mexico this Fall.
Unfortunately, prices are going right along with me. Upwards, that is.
As of mid-summer, airline tickets were outpacing inflation. In the last year, say the experts, the consumer price index for airline tickets shot up by 25%— the largest jump since the Federal Reserve of St. Louis began tracking that index in 1989.
The good news is that prices are now leveling off and even coming down a bit, as gas and jet fuel prices fall from the extraordinarily highs of recent months. It’s predicted that airfares will drop as much as 40% post-Labor Day.
But that doesn't mean you should wait to start your travel planning. No way.
As prices go down, demand will go up. Because of labor shortages and other issues, airlines have cut back drastically on scheduled flights.
If you do find a low fare, grab it. If you find an “acceptable” far, same thing. Grab it. Some airlines offer a “price drop refund policy,” but usually only on certain fare types and within certain date ranges.
So it just pays to do whatever it takes to do get smarter and think more strategically about how to save money.
5 Quick Tips to Help you Save Money Every Time You Travel
1. Cross-check prices on several different online travel sites. I've found some big price discrepancies recently. And be careful of third-party and fly-by-night sites. They typically have hidden unadvertised costs. And there's nothing worse than having your flight canceled and not being able to contact someone to help you rebook. Use a travel aggregator (like Kayak, Expeida, etc,) to search for and compare fares, but always book directly with the airline.
2. Beware of all those extra fees airlines add. They nickel and dime you for everything from choosing your seat and primary boarding to luggage costs, meals, and more. Often it is well worth upgrading your fare choice from the get-go...choosing economy plus or premium economy over a basic economy fare, for example, can save you money in the long run and add greatly to your overall comfort. (And if you plan to travel often with a specific carrier, consider an airline credit card that covers some of those additional costs and gives you points to apply to future travel costs.)
3. Having said that, if you really want to save, look to bargain airlines. New ones are coming online all the time. For instance, I just searched for non-stop round-trip flights from new York to Paris next Spring. For the exact same dates, American Airlines' basic economy cost is $702. A new low-cost carrier is offering a non-stop basic economy and fully refundable flight for $519. That's a savings of $183 I can surely find a way to spend in Paris.
4. Even those budget carriers offer lower costs depending on your dates, so the more flexible you can be with dates, the better. It definitely pays (or saves) to search multiple dates on either side of your desired timeframe. Or look to an alternate month altogether. Traveling during "shoulder seasons" can be a big money saver.
Being "date flexible" can help you save on accommodation as well. For instance, friends (another couple) joined my husband Dan and me on that trip to Ireland earlier this summer. I was searching for a two-bedroom/two-bath accommodation in Galway on AirBnB.
The best I could find in the walkable heart of the city (no car or taxis needed) was coming in at a total cost of about $1,549—not bad, especially when compared to the cost of two hotel rooms for four nights.
But... when I changed my dates to just three nights, I found a nice, well-reviewed place (good reviews are important to me... I read every single one) with a total cost of $576. We took that $1,000 savings and spent it on a flight to the Aran Islands, a boat tour of the Cliffs of Moher and a night at a cozy B&B in the quaint fishing village of Doolin.
And we still came out ahead. We had plenty left over to spend at the pub down the road and pay for a local driver to get us back to Galway in time for our train to Dublin.There are lots of tricks like this that can help you save money. For instance
5. Download and use time- and money-saving travel apps, like Uber, Gas Buddy, Waze—a GPS program that helps you avoid travel delays, detours, even speed traps. Try them out before you ever leave home. And if you don’t already, start using Whatsapp. Every driver, tour guide, and expat I know uses it to communicate for free wherever you have a WiFi connection.
Sometimes all you need is a gentle reminder. And sometimes there are some insider tricks that only lifelong travelers know.
As a travel writer for more than two decades now, I have some great tips and tricks up my sleeve. My son (also a lifelong traveler) and I assembled the best of those (hundreds of them, in fact) for you in a program we call Save Money Every Time You Travel.
Want a shot at the best prices every time on flights, hotel rooms, cruises, rental cars, currency conversions, and more? Free upgrades? The safest, fastest way through airport security? The smartest way to scout, in person, the world’s must-see cities and most attractive retirement destinations?
If you're ready to get out there and explore the world, whether that's across town or across the world, I think we can help you make it just a little bit more enjoyable.
Because putting more money in your pocket means more money to spend on fun, right?