How to Save Money While Traveling

Planning some business travel, a summer vacation or road trip? Using some common sense guidelines and social media tools can add up to big savings both before and during travel and make traveling a better experience.

“It’s about tradeoffs. It’s the little sacrifices we make so our money can stretch to cover the things we value most. It isn’t easy, but I’ll be happy when I’m sitting beachside without worrying that I emptied my savings account or put everything on credit to get there.” says Justine Rivero Credit Advisor for Credit Karma in Forbes.

Rivero recommends having a savings fund and a travel fund, finding a travel tradeoff (like bringing lunch to work rather than going out) and sticking to it as well as budgeting to enjoy by considering expenses when we arrive at our destination.Readily available social media tools can work very nicely into a common-sense strategy that can add to our travel fund, help with the budget and help control expenses while we travel too.

  1. Save now, travel later- money-saving offers from a variety of sources can be yours via social media platforms like DealTaker.com where by following @CouponBot on Twitter delivers instant coupons & deals by tweeting @CouponBot with a store name right after it. I got money-saving coupons by tweeting @Couponbot Delta Airlines. Airlines, Hotels, Car Rentals, Luggage, Travel Accessories and even vacation packages are also available.
  2. Follow companies on Twitter. Many offer exclusive, limited-time-only deals to their followers. I got a free case of Chobani Yogurt , delivered to my front door, by following @ChobaniNikki and signed up for even more free stuff at ILoveFreeThings.com. Tip: set up another email address just for this kind of thing to keep from getting your regular email box overloaded with offers/spam.
  3. Don’t go it alone- Knowing ahead of time what to expect in an area you are unfamiliar with is made easy with FindMeetGo where we can get in touch with other travelers from around the world, explore different trip plans, or let people know about your own future adventures. The goal: to find other open-minded travelers, such as yourself, to meet up and share costs with.
  4. Unlock deals– Using location based apps such as FourSquare and Facebook, unlock deals to save money for an upcoming trip or save while traveling. On the horizon, recent news suggests daily deal king Groupon and Foursquare are reportedly working on a partnership that would offer targeted deals based off of a users’ check-ins. That could be huge.
  5. Check In to hotels via social media to earn bonus points-Members of Best Western’s global loyalty program, Best Western Rewards, are now able to earn bonus rewards points redeemable for travel, gift cards, merchandise and more just for using the popular social media platform Topguest. Other hotel chains and loyalty programs offer this added incentive as well.

Flickr photo by katerha

Budgeting tools turn travel dreams into reality, even cruises

If the high price of air travel has you concerned about your upcoming summer vacation, its not without good reason. Prices are going up. If you worry about that vacation because of the incidental expenses, you are not alone. Those add up. Even if you’re heading out for a road trip, hiking or camping, unknown expenses are tough to budget. Still, there are some good resources you can turn to for relief.

People who are smart about money will tell you to have a budget and stick to it. They will also tell you that the answer to your budget worries lies in the answers to two questions:

How accurate is your budget? and Can you cover the total cost?

That’s easy enough for them to say, but how do you know how much things cost in places you have never been before?


BudgetYourTrip.com might just some answers for you. At this free online tool, users can sign up and create a budget. They enter their travel expenses by category and location, and can view charts and graphs of their budget too. Now here’s the good part; the expenses are then anonymously combined with expenses from other travelers. All of the expenses for each location are then computed using fancy math and statistics. Those numbers are then broken down by category and displayed for everyone to see as average daily costs for each city.

On a sample vacation, BudgetYourTrip showed us that a week in Tokyo could be done for $376.56 which works out to $75.31 per day. Not bad really.

A good budget for travel is one we have to get right, from the beginning, or we’re just fooling ourselves. An accurate picture of all expenses and an honest look at your available funds to pay for it are the foundation for any plans that follow.

Another good tool, reviewed by Gadling’s Amy Chen earlier this year is the Mint.com money-management tool.

“You can create plans for saving toward retirement and buying a house” Amy notes, adding “but I’ll be primarily using the site for its Travel Goals, which help you set — and stick to — realistic travel budgets”

Tools like these can help point us in the right direction when planning travel. Web-based social applications can help too. Getting to “know” others who have been there and done that will open doors to first-hand information that few tools can provide. A good example of how valuable that information can be is found in all-inclusive or nearly-all-inclusive vacations.

All-inclusive land vacations are easy, everything is included. Cruise vacations, on the other hand, have an all-inclusive nature to them as much is indeed included in the price. But while incidental cruise expenses can be tricky, they don’t have to sink the vacation.

Cruise lines have all the answers for what is and is not included in the price. There really are no hidden fees here but to say “It’s a great deal because everything is included in the price” is just wrong. Savvy cruise travelers know to stop by the CruiseCritic.com message boards for the very latest information. I made a bet once with a travel agent that I could find out the answer to a question faster than she could by simply logging on to CruiseCritic.com, asking the question in the right place and waiting a few minutes. I won that bet easily.

There are dedicated sites for all kinds of travel too that offer similar quick and accurate information. Twitter (#travel, #cruise), Facebook travel groups and other social tools can also provide similar real-time information.

Flickr photo by Public Domain Photos


How to create a realistic travel budget with Mint.com’s planning tool

A new year often means lofty resolutions, especially when it comes to planning and maintaining a travel budget.

Though there are many personal-finance sites and software out there, this year I’m resolving to use Mint.com‘s free online tool. You can create plans for saving toward retirement and buying a house, but I’ll be primarily using the site for its Travel Goals, which help you set — and stick to — realistic travel budgets.

And though the tool obviously doesn’t do the hardest part (you still have to save the money), it does track how far or close you are to achieving your Travel Goal.

For example, say you want to go to Hawaii for a week this summer. Once you create a budget by filling in the estimates for airfare, hotel, meals, and other expenses, you can then specify how much you will contribute to that Travel Goal each month.

If you underestimate how much you’d need to save per month, the online tool points out: “Oh no! You aren’t saving enough each month to reach your goal on time.” The tool then offers you two ways to fix your Travel Goal: increase your monthly contribution in order to reach your desired travel date or postpone your planned date to fit your monthly contribution.

If you stay on track with saving the specified amount each month, Mint.com’s budgeting tool highlights (and adjusts) the projected date of when you can afford to take the trip. Save more, and you could afford to take your trip a month or two earlier.

But if you slack on your monthly savings, the date will be pushed back — a reality check and an instant motivator. Once you mentally equate an unnecessary clothing purchase or an impulse buy to the consequence of delaying your trip by a month, saving becomes a little more real.

Granted, most people will buy plane tickets and reserve hotels with a credit card several months before actually taking the trip; the tool helps track if you’ll be able to easily pay it all off after your trip. After all, nothing ruins a vacation more than coming home to bills that you’re not financially prepared to handle.

To fund my travels this year, I’ve linked my Mint.com account to an ING Savings Account labeled Travel Fund.

How do you stay on track with saving up for a vacation?

[flickr image via epSoS.de]

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