Book smart: 6 ways to save on your next vacation
A vacation is not cheap. The average American drops $1,145 on a typical getaway, according to American Express. More than $4,500 for a family of four.
It doesn’t have to be that expensive. You don’t have to rack up credit card debt or drain your savings and negate the whole “relaxing” part of a much-needed vacation. With some savvy shopping and these six insider tips, you can save big when booking travel plans.
1. Vacations have coupons, too.
Coupon-clipping, at least metaphorically, is not just for groceries. Many major companies, such as Priceline.com, feature coupon codes that can save you money.
Don’t waste time searching the Internet for valid codes, though. You can see an already curated, easy-to-search list of just about every business you can imagine online at ShopAtHome.com.
Before making any purchase, just pop over to ShopAtHome.com and type the website you are shopping in the search bar. It will direct you to a page of the best discounts offered by that company. From there, just click on the deal that you want to grab the coupon code, and you will automatically be redirected back to the website you were shopping.
2. Get Cash Back for doing nothing extra
In addition to a list of discounts and deals on the search page at ShopAtHome.com, you will also see Cash Back and ShopGold Rewards at the top of the page. This is an additional amount of money that ShopAtHome.com will send to you — simply because you visited the site.
No kidding. No gimmick. No catch.
If you are logged in to your ShopAtHome.com account when you do this, whatever you spend on the redirected website will be tallied, and on that, you will earn Cash Back (sometimes upwards of 10 percent, which is a huge amount of money when you’re talking about a $5,000 vacation) and ShopGold Rewards, which you can redeem for other goodies.
For Cash Back, you don’t have to do a thing. Just wait for a check to come in the mail. Note: The checks are sent on a pre-determined schedule and won’t arrive immediately, so know that in your budgeting. You will get the money back, but it could be a few weeks or even months.
3. Let technology help.
Travel apps can help save you time and money, too. Here are three of our favorite travel apps, including the Priceline app, with its exclusive “tonight only,” short-term deals that can save you big money if you are willing and able to act quickly.
4. Shop flash deals and last-minute bargains.
Many travel companies offer incredible deals that only last a short while. If you can travel last-minute, check those specials, too. Booking.com is one example of many. Don’t forget to pair all purchases, even those last-minute specials, with Cash Back and ShopGold Rewards, of course.
5. Be flexible.
Flexibility is key in finding the best travel deals. Have an idea of your ideal travel dates (and departure times), but the more you can bend your plans, the greater chance you can score the lowest possible rate. When searching for airfare, pick the “flexible date” option and compare prices from day to day.
If you can be flexible about location and date, you will find the best savings.
6. Travel during off-season.
High season prices mean high dollars. Do some research on your destination and go when fewer travelers are there. Not only will you have smaller crowds, but many local businesses, hotels, restaurants and more offer special deals during the off season.
Example: Hit the Colorado ski towns during the “mud season,” just after ski season ends in April. You can find hotels for a fraction of the price and you’ll often be the only patron in a five-star restaurant, with its discounted menu options. Talk about a queen’s vaca on a pauper’s budget.