How to Save Money While Travelling, Airlines, Airports and Car Rentals

By Randall Orser | Budget

When we are travelling, most of us figure that if we have to pay for it we are probably being ripped off or paying too much and that will often be true.  We constantly get stuck paying annoying and usually hidden fees to part us with more of our money.  However there are ways to avoid paying pesky extra charges especially with airlines, at the airport and when renting a car.

AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS

Ticket Prices:  Airline prices are constantly changing, and it is hard to know if you are actually getting a good deal.  Using a price alert app will help you to get the best price for your flight.  If you want to really save money on that flight use your frequent flyer miles, but don’t forget that you still have to pay taxes.  When checking the price of your flight make sure that it includes taxes and surcharges so that you don’t get any nasty surprises!

Cancellation Fees:  It can be expensive to change a flight reservation so if you think that you might have to change your flight make sure that you buy a more flexible airfare that allows changes.  Even if you have to pay more it will usually be worth it.  

Booking on the Phone: If you prefer to speak to a real person when booking your flight, you will usually have to pay for this, but you can book online for free.  If you are really not keen on booking online then consider using a travel agent to do the work for you.

Travel Insurance:  Make sure that you get reliable advice when buying travel insurance to make sure that you are fully covered.  Your travel agent can usually advise you.  If you are booking on line be aware that many airlines will include travel insurance in the cost of the flight, and you have to deselect the insurance optionso that you do not pay for something that you are buying elsewhere. 

Airport Parking:  Using a Park and Fly is usually your best choice if you have to park at the airport.  However, pay attention to the dates that you reserve, and read the fine print.  Make sure that you are paying for the correct amount of time that you will be away. Ahead of time watch out for online deals and coupons.

Once you are at the airport you are essentially a hostage and anything you buy will be overpriced.  Avoid buying food at the airport by packing sealed non liquid snacks and an empty water bottle that you can fill once you have passed through security. 

Baggage Fees:  Pay attention when you book your flight to see how many (if any) are included in the price as well as the maximum weight allowance, so that you know what you will have to pay when you check in.  To avoid luggage charges if possible, travel with only a carry-on bag, but watch out because these also have restrictions now.

In-flight Meals and Drinks:  On many airlines especially budget ones, you have to pay for drinks, meals and snacks.  To avoid overpaying for what is usually a poor meal bring your own snacks and a water bottle.  Other things that you might be charged for during your flight are entertainment devices, headsets, blankets and pillows.  Also, if your destination requires payment of a departure tax (such as Cuba) make sure you are aware of this and keep back some currency to pay for it).

CAR RENTALS

Decide if you really need to rent a car at all? There might be a cheaper alternative. If you just need the car to get around town, consider using a car sharing service.  If you are only going from one place to another, consider using public transit or ride sharing.  

If your travel plans allow look into camper van and car relocations.  Rental companies often have a glut of vehicles in the wrong place for their upcoming reservations and if it fits your plans it is a good option to save money on car rentals.  You will be given a number of days to relocate a vehicle. You are charged around $5 per day then usual rental rates for extra days.  Though you don’t usually get free mileage you get an allowance to get to your destination plus a bonus amount.  You will also get a fuel allowance. 

If you really do have to rent a car watch for advertised specials (such as fly-drive deals).  You should take out insurance but before you buy the rental company insurance check if you are covered for car rentals under your own or your credit card insurance.   Be aware that adding additional drivers to the rental agreement will mean extra fees which are never worked into the fees.  If you are under 25 you will probably have to pay a surcharge for car rental.  

Lastly, if you bring the car back empty, the rental agency will charge you way more to fill up on gas than if you brought it back full.  Make sure you fill up the car at a gas station close to your drop off point.  

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About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.