International Living editors and correspondents are constantly on the road seeking out the best-value retirement havens. All that travel means they’re pretty savvy when it comes to getting the best deals and saving money while on the road.
I’ve persuaded them to share some of their top tips. These are the strategies they use every time they go on the road…tried, tested, and proven to get you the best deals and ensure you make the most of your travels, whether you’re scouting out a location for your new life overseas, heading off on vacation, or exploring your new country.
With so many websites and airlines, booking flights can seem like a daunting prospect. Tamarindo Correspondent Jackie Minchillo says she uses Google Flights when looking for the best airfares. “Instead of sticking with one airline and collecting miles, I always book the cheapest flight on whatever airline I find, and use a general credit card whose points can be put toward any airline,” she says. “One credit card with a great travel rewards program and no foreign transaction fees is the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card.”
Our Roving Latin America Editor Jason Holland advises signing up to websites that alert you to low fares when looking for the best prices. He says, “Follow sites Travel Pirates and Airfare Watchdog on Facebook and sign up for their email alerts. They’ll let you know when there are really good deals to be had.”
If you’re making the big move and are bringing a lot of luggage on a flight, Colombia Correspondent Nancy Kiernan has a neat trick. She says, “Rather than buying an economy-class ticket and paying additional baggage charges, it can often be cheaper to upgrade to first class as the ticket includes more pieces of checked luggage. This has worked for me twice…I saved over $150 and got to fly in style.”
For short-term hotel stays, Belize Correspondent Ann Kuffner likes to use Booking.com. “I like that you can make a booking on there and cancel it for free,” she explains. “They also don’t charge your card until you get there. I love that you can lock in a good deal, but cancel it later if you find a better deal.”
Staying on the topic of hotel stays, VIP Products Editor Erica Mills has some sound advice when it comes to planning your itinerary. “If you’re taking a trip where you have an itinerary of different towns and cities to stay in, save the most expensive destination for a mid-week trip,” she advises. “Often, hotels will offer mid-week packages that cost a half or even a third of what you would pay to stay there on the weekend.”
If you’re on the tourist trail and want to hit as many attractions as possible, then look into your destination’s tourism cards. Panama Editor Jessica Ramesch says, “For one lump sum you can enjoy hefty discounts. This usually only works to your advantage if you’re definitely going to hit three or more attractions, so take a good look at what the card offers and commit to getting more than your money’s worth.
“Also keep an eye out for newspapers geared toward visitors, as these can also list discounts, free events, ‘sale’ days, etc. In Panama, Ofertasimple posts multiple offers every day. Not all are tourism/hospitality focused but there are enough to make it worth checking out.”
If you’re in Spain, once again Erica has a top tip: “Check out ‘free days’ for museums. Some hold them once a week; others once a month. If you choose the right day, you can get a cultural day out—visiting all the museums you want—for free or at a significant discount than if you went the day before.”
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