Ben Todd | Jun 3, 2017 | 2
12+ Travel Hacking Secrets to Save Significant Money on Travel
You cannot beat the system when it comes to vacations and backpacking, but you can exploit loopholes, and you can get things a little cheaper if you are prepared to put in the time. Almost all money-saving tips involve taking more time and doing more planning than the average tourist does.
Stop Paying For Travel Hacking Books And Secrets
All travel hacking will tell you that you can save thousands on your trip, and some will say you can fly for free. They will simply give you the credit card tip we are giving you (below), and then some disposable advice, such as how you should try to scoop up last-minute airline and hotel deals.
1. The Credit Card Trick
As previously mentioned, you can pull a credit card trick to get cheaper and free air flights. Here is how it is done:
1 – Apply For Credit Cards
Sign up for credit cards that have an airline promotion, such as travel credits and travel miles. Sign up for one, and then sign up for another.
There are two ways you can do this. If you have a good credit rating, you can sign up for one and wait to be accepted before signing up for another. Or, you may sign up for several in one evening and see how many give you credit cards.
2 – Meet The Minimum Spending Requirement
These cards rarely give promotions away for nothing. Most have a spending requirement, and most ask that you spend within three months. Meeting the requirements is easy because you simply put your usual expenses onto them. It takes some discipline, but in essence, it simply involves doing what you are already doing.
As an example, let’s assume you are paid $1300 per month, and you spend $700 on rent, $150 on food, and $300 on bills. Instead of paying the rent, your food, and your bills with your wages, pay for them with your credit card, and then repay the credit card with your wages.
3 – Redeem The Travel Points
Most credit card companies will allow you to build up travel points or air miles. When you have built up enough, you can redeem them and go flying for a cheaper or free price. There are some credit card companies that will also give you special offers on hotels and rental cars.
Prerequisites For This Plan
Using the credit card method does hold a fair amount of risk, especially if it means having up to three credit cards. The world’s population is in more debt than ever before because spending money is so easy when you have credit cards to play with. Plus, applying for a series credit cards may hurt your credit rating. Here is how you do it a little more safely:
- Try to have a credit score of 680+ if you want to apply for the best deals and if you want to apply for up to three credit cards at one time.
- Paying off the balances must be your top priority. Ask anybody in debt, and he/she will tell you that it has ruined his/her lives.
- You cannot have existing credit card debt. If you do, then you clearly will not pay off your balances when required, plus three other credit card companies are less likely to give you cards if you already have one or more.
- You must have been fully employed for at least six months. Travel hacking tips may be highly sought after by people with no money, but people with money are the only ones that can take advantage of them.
- You must spend at least two hours per month doing budgets to make sure you both spend the required amount, and repay it without bother or extra fees. If you are paying extra fees, you are defeating the object of this money-saving tip.
Can The Credit Card Tip Hurt Your Credit Score In The Short Term?
Apologies for going on about the credit card tip in this much detail, but be thankful that you didn’t have to buy a bunch of e-books like we did (only to read the same advice 12 times).
When you get your credit card quotes and such, which is usually done online, you get a soft search. However, when you actually put your application through, it gives you a hard search that shows up on your credit rating. More than three in a short space of time will damage your credit rating. If you are declined after application, it will make it almost impossible for you to get a credit card for six months after. Too many hard searches in a short space of time may damage your credit rating for up to two years.
How Does It Help My Credit Rating In The Long Term
If you have three credit cards, and you use them, and you quickly repay the balances within 28 days, your credit rating will climb up. The longer you do it, then the more it demonstrates that you are good with your money, and that you are good at handling debt.
2. Figure Out A Standard Rate for Your Trip
The standard rate is the average rate. Think of it as the industry average. It is the average price that you would normally expect to pay. For example, if you go shopping for free range eggs, how do you know if $3 is a good price? You need to figure out a standard rate as to how much free-range eggs usually cost. You find out they usually cost $3.40, so $3 is a good price.
Obviously, flights, hotels and rental cars are going to vary depending on each country and location, and sadly, this means you are going to have to figure out a standard rate for each. Once you have established your standard rate, also known as your baseline rate, then you can accurately start looking for prices that are cheaper than the standard/baseline.
3. Do A Reverse Flight Check
Find a good deal for a return flight, and then find out if it is cheaper with two singles. Once you have your best price, go to the other country’s website and see how much it costs on their website. You may also hear this method being referred to as a reverse check, and it assumes that the same company operates in two or more countries. Here is how you do it:
1 – Get your price on the USA website and make a note of it. Let’s say for example that you are going to China.
2 – Go to the Chinese website and click to turn the language to English, or use Google translate. If you cannot gain access from your country, then use a VPN service.
3 – Get a quote for your tickets, and then convert the currency to see if it is cheaper.
4 – Option 1 – Try booking your return using the foreign website. They usually have to add a lot of tax, but even with the added tax there is a chance the price is lower.
4 – Option 2 – Buy a single one-way ticket from your USA website that goes out there, and buy a single from the foreign country website that takes you home to the USA.
4 – Option 3 – Buy a single one-way ticket to the foreign country and when you get there, buy your ticket home from the same company in that country, or a different company in that country.
4. Learn The Best Times To Fly
It differs depending on which country you are going to. They all have their off peak times and date. For example, if you are flying domestically in the USA, you tend to find that Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday are often the cheapest days to fly. Overnight flights and early morning flights will also tend to be cheaper. Take the time to learn the best times to fly. Do a little research with the airline quoting tools, and take the advice of travel bloggers. If you find a good price or tip thanks to them, then be nice and share their posts on social media.
Flexibility Is The Key To Savings
Actually, being flexible is almost as good as research and planning. If you have wiggle room, you are more able to take advantage of late deals and a mind-boggling array of special offers.
If you don’t know it already, get familiar with SkyScanner.com. It’s one of the best ways to find awesome flight deals or to monitor an upcoming flight destination you have your eye on for cheap flights. This is basically a long term ‘flight’ scanner that will notify you if there are some cheap flights available for a destination you flag.
6. Use Airmiles (But Only When It’s Cheaper to Do So)
The most talked about travel hack trick you’ll see online often centers around milking the airline companies for cheap or free airmiles. You get these discounted airmiles by applying for credit card offers that throw in thousands of free airmiles (usually enough for a free one way or round trip flight abroad if you use it right), using travel credit cards with certain offers, buying items that give you bonus air miles (again, usually with an airmiles card or travel credit card program), or outright buying airmiles during airline airmile promotion sales.
Tip: For all the lauded airmile travel hacks you see (it’s not uncommon to see travel websites posting some larger than life story about flying around the world for free on some airmiles), keep in mind that airmiles are NOT stupid and they have airmiles for a reason — they make MONEY from the programs. While there may be some crazy loophole that opens up for short periods of time, keep in mind that these are just that: loopholes. Yes, you can take advantage of these programs, but you need to invest a lot of time into researching, finding, and vetting that these work, and you need to live your life in such a way to capitalize on these (putting all spending on a travel credit card for the miles, looking for special promotions, etc).
When To Use Travel Miles And When To Pay
Frequent flyer programs are handy for savings, especially if you know how to spend your points. You need to think about the dollar cost of your miles. With this example, let’s assume that an air mile point is worth $0.01, so let’s do a little math.
Flight 1 = 25,000 miles and costs $300
If an air mile is worth $0.01, then the flight will cost $250 worth of air mile points. The flight itself costs $300, so you will save $50 if you use your air miles.
Flight 2 = 47,000 miles and costs $390
The cost of an air mile is $0.01 and there are 47,000 miles, then the cost in air mile points is $470, but the monetary cost is only $390. In this case, you are saving more if you pay with money and do not use your air miles points.
The “Other” Way Of Valuing Your Air Miles
Where and how you spend your air mile points may determine their value, and therefore determine how much you are technically saving. Here is an example to better explain.
Economy Airfare Domestic = $250
The Required Miles = 25,000
Air Miles Value = $0.01
International Economy Airfare Short Haul = $750
The Required Miles = 35,000
Air Miles Value = $0.02
International Business Class Airfare Long Haul = $4,500
The Required Miles = 80,000
Air Miles Value = $0.05
Set Up A Free Email Account You Can Burn for Travel Offers
Online there are hundreds and thousands of websites giving you offers for flights, hotels and rental cars. They come from websites all over the globe, from timeshare salespersons to airline companies. Set up a free email address with one of the many companies that offers them for free, and use it exclusively to receive deals from these companies.
Do not use your own (regular) email address because it w will be inundated with spam mail until the end of time. Once your email gets onto a spammer’s list–it never stops. Speaking of which, if somebody calls your phone from a hospital–it will end up on a spammer’s list, and if you sign up for a free dating website, your email address will end up on a spammer’s list.
Should You Buy Air Miles?
There are some very good arguments for and against buying air miles. The arguments for buying air miles say that you can get your fares at half price. However, after taxes, fees and such, the price is often the same as buying the ticket outright. However, even though the price is the same, if you are buying air miles, you are missing out on other rewards such as further air miles or upgrades to elite status. There is a lot of hidden math behind buying air miles, where taking the costs at face value will have you losing money in the long run.
7. Do A Mileage Run
This is a hack where you take smaller and cheaper trips and earn air miles. Many online tipsters will tell you to pick a flight with a lot of layovers because it racks up your air mile points. Should you take trips to places you don’t want to visit in order to earn air miles?
The answer is, “Get a f**king life you loser.” Who are these so-called travel experts that spend a weekend traveling from airport to airport so they can rack up points? Don’t they have a life? Don’t they have any sense? Let’s do the math.
You could take several trips over a weekend and earn $500 of air mile points and it only costs you $240. You then buy a trip to Bulgaria for $500. In total, the trip to Bulgaria will have cost you $240, thereby saving you $260.
Instead of boring your socks off for two days as you look at the inside of planes and airports, you could have worked for two days, which only totals 16 hours. It saves you $240 right away, and the money you earn you can put towards your $500 ticket.
In the end, the difference is negligible, except for the fact you have not had to spend two days on a plane and in airports. You were able to have a life, to sleep in your own bed, and to enjoy (or not) working over sitting in a plane.
In addition, most people cannot do a mileage run without spending money on magazines, overpriced coffee and food, all of which eats into savings they eventually make. You only live once. You only get a limited amount of time on this earth. Are you going to willingly spend it on a plane just to save a few bucks?
8. Ask to Be Bumped to Better Class Airline Seats
It may be possible to ask for a free upgrade to business class from economy class. Or in some cases, an airline may offer to upgrade your seat or offer you some deal if they overbook and you delay your flight.
Can You Believe The Bumped Stories?
We cannot speak for their legitimacy, but there are enough travel bloggers out there that claim to have been bumped that it may be worth thinking about. The reason for bumping is because airlines oversell places on planes, especially during peak seasons such as the holiday season. When more than enough people turn up, the airlines have to find a way to get around it.
Some of them will upgrade passengers and put them in first class. Sometimes they do it for free, and sometimes they do it for a small fee. They may also have auctions where a person gets an airline voucher if they agree to fly on the plane the day after. There are stories of airlines holding voucher auctions and putting people up in free hotels with free meals until the time of the flight.
Consider Unconventional Lodging
There are things such as house swaps that you may be interested in. There are also from very good hostels, especially in Europe. There are home-stay plans where people advertise a room in their house and travelers visit for a few weeks for a fee. There is a benefit for the homeowner because tourists often pay more than lodgers do, and it is only for a limited time. If you are willing to invest your time in building up your Couchsurfing account, you can even stay for FREE around the world, if you don’t mind sleeping on people’s couches.
9. Haggle With Hotels
There are numerous ways you can do this. You can find a travel agency and get a quote, then you approach the hotel and ask them to beat it. You may approach a number of hotels to see if they will beat the quote, and then you pick the one that offers you the cheapest room. You may also like to pitch the travel agencies against each other by going back and forth with their quotes and play them off against each other.
You may also use comparison websites to get the cheapest room prices, and then call their competitors to see if they will beat the price you took from the comparison website. Some companies will beat a quote if you can prove you got it from a comparison site (where they are able to check to see if you are telling the truth).
10. Travel Light And Buy Stuff When You Get There
If you take fewer items, then you may pay fewer fees, and you will need less insurance. Sometimes, it is actually cheaper to go abroad and then buy some clothes to wear while you are over there. In addition, you are wearing clothes bought locally, so you will not stand out as a tourist to all the local thieves and shysters.
In addition, when you bring your clothes back, you have some great clothes to wear that double over as memories for your trip. Even if the clothes are not that great, they still make good “knock around” clothes for in the house, decorating, working out or gardening.
Tip: You can particularly save by buying your clothing (and some supplies like pharmacy items) when you go to cheap parts of the world like South East Asia, China, and India. Many of the items you can buy such as clothing, shoes, and pharmacy products are half or a third of the cost in these countries. So why pay MORE at home for these products?
11. Packing Tips That May Help Some Flyers Save $$$
Roll up your socks and put them in your shoes. Some people put a few valuables in their shoes too. Some people also roll up their clothes very tightly to pack them, which may be the most efficient way of storing your clothes. If you can stand the inconvenience, then wear your bulkiest cloths on the plane and/or put them in the overhead storage locker.
Remember that towels, coats and shoes take up the most room when packing. Buy cosmetics when you are over there. All you really need is your toothbrush. Plus, many airlines are skittish about letting you have liquids in your luggage.
12. Extra Tips For Tourists And Travelers
Here are a few handy tips that will help you on your travels. They are too large to put into bullet points, but too small to have their own section. Also, if you want to save money, then do not buy local crafts and such. Almost all of the things you see in shops were made in China anyway and they always look cheap and tacky when you get them home.
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][+] Do a little circuit training before your vacation because your muscles are going to ache after a few days of walking around.
[+] There are some countries where you can watch the sun set and you get a great show that stays with you forever.
[+] Do not take new shoes because they will hurt your feet and make walking more difficult.
[+] Stop telling people about your vacation on Facebook. You are advertising when your house will be empty. You will return home to an empty house.
[+] Put your f**king phone down! People come back with 600 photos of every drink they had, beach they saw, and sparrow that farted, and yet they cannot remember any of their vacation because their eyes were glued to their phone.
[+] Airports are designed to make you spend money. They will draw money from you for everything from a bottle of water to how much luggage you have.
[+] Enormous tour groups will annoy the locals, but they are often safer and there are always a few people you can make friends with that speak the foreign language.
[+] Forget public toilets if you need a pee. There is usually a McDonalds nearby or a pub that you can sneak into for the toilet.
[+] Get out of the way when other people are taking photos because some people are nutcases and it is not worth the aggravation.
[+] Hotels, trains, busses, hostels and beaches… All of these are the places where people will steal things from you without you knowing.
[+] Some insurance excess amounts make the insurance poor value. Unless something big happens such as you lose a leg, it is often worth finding an insurance company that requires a smaller excess amount.
[+] Call your family once every day to give them an update. If you don’t call one day, it may prompt them to do a little research. It gives you a backup security measure for if something bad happens.
[+] If you are eating street food, you should choose the vendor with the longest queue because it is probably good and they will have fresher food.
[+] Learn the ins-and-outs of airport security. Do not be that person that tries to take 2ltrs of acetone on board in your hand luggage.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]