Smarter, Cheaper Travel For The New Year


Some call them travel resolutions, I say they just a smarter, cheaper way to travel that can be applied all year round and not just at the beginning of the new year.

My list is about reducing the cost and stress of travel and can be applied to plans that include international travel, exotic vacations or getaways closer to home.


Be Flexible

If you don’t have to arrive or depart on a certain day at a certain time and are open to different accommodation options, you may reap the reward of lower prices. Airfare search engines such as Kayak and Google Flights allow flexible date searches. Search for good sources for last-minute travel deals. Sign up for alerts and be prepared to act.

Learn The Language & Lingo

These days, online courses and apps can help travelers learn a language for free. Commit at least a few phrases to memory before traveling abroad and have an advantage when haggling with locals.

And besides the foreign language, also take the time to learn the ‘travel lingo’. For example, know the difference between ‘direct’ and ‘non-stop’, it could save your hours of travel or downtime in a foreign airport.

Procrastinate On Your Accommodation

As soon as you know where you’re going, book a hotel — as the arrival date approaches, rates are likely to go up is the common sense recommendation.  Depends on your destination and travel dates, the opposite could be true.

For my recent trip to Colombia, I waited until the last minute to book my hotel at and got a good deal. Had I waited a day more, would have saved a few extra dollars.

Back to the former, if you book early on, book where you can cancel within 24 or 48 hours without penalty, so no harm in booking early and then seek out a better deal.

Take Advantage of Hidden Freebies

Who doesn’t like a freebie? No? Right. Many hotels, primarily for upscale stays, offer perks to get you to stay with them or to sweeten the splurge, bigger room, spa, etc. Many of these perks are not listed, all you have to do is ask.

Perks, like free upgrades, can be had at some airlines. Just ask. Nothing lost in asking. You may be surprised.

Stop Checking Luggage

Avoid checking in luggage and fees. Travel light, if it can’t fit in your carry-on you probably don’t need it. Also great if you want to change your connection, reduce the wait time or even destination. No checked luggage, no problem.

Don’t Forget The Necessities

Necessities like a toothbrush, soap, shampoo can easily be found in hotels, but staying with friends or an Airbnb* not so much. Don’t forget phone and camera chargers. All can be purchased locally, yes, but…stay organized, stock travel essentials in your go pack.

Sign Up For Airline Rewards

Don’t think that frequent flyer or rewards programs aren’t just for frequent flyers or for business travelers. Anyone, even you, can sign up for free when you book a flight. Earn points or miles. Some don’t expire. Use them to get free flights or upgrades. All costing you nothing.


Always Book Flights Online

Booking by telephone, the airline airport counter or ticket office could cost you $25 more for your travel. Airlines love to find ways of charging you for things they never did, you would never expect them to. Many airlines charge you a fee for assistance to book your flight.

Booking online you get the see the various options with respect to baggage, ticket changes, dates and times more convenient for your travel, etc, things a live assistant may not take the time to explain.

For example, airlines like Copa and Avianca have multiple flights daily to and from San Jose. Booking online you can choose the best time for your travel. Choosing an off-time or longer stop-over can save you a lot of money. Copa, for example, signing up with them (free) allows you book reserve a flight for 24 hours without payment. If you don’t complete the reservation it goes away.

Be Open To Rental Over A Hotel

Even if you are a hotel die-hard, sites such as Airbnb* and Homeaway are worth taking a look at. You may be surprised to find unexpected deals that are cheaper and more comfortable than a hotel room.

Stop Paying Fees

Watch those ATM fees. Though many foreign ATMs charge a fee locally, you can control your costs by switching to a bank with no foreign transaction fees and learning which foreign ATMs don’t have local fees (with your card) or lower fees than the others.

Withdrawing just a few dollars each time can add up. Look for foreign ATMs with larger per transaction limits. Careful with withdrawals in local currency. Withdrawing in US dollars and then exchanging at the local bank or foreign exchange house can save you money.

Get More Out Of Business Trips

While traveling for work, take advantage and spend some time as a tourist. Even if you can’t afford to stay extra days, a few hours for sightseeing can be possible.

Learn To Use A Camera

A picture is worth a thousand words. Even if it’s just your smartphone camera, take the time to learn photo tips to help you take better photos or videos. Images of your trip are perhaps the cheapest souvenirs and the most valuable. With today’s technology, there is no expense is buying and film developing. You can take hundreds, even thousands of photos, download them your computer, up to the cloud, whatever.


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