Travel Bloggers Share their Best Travel Hacks
It’s no secret that travel can be expensive! That’s why I recently wrote a comprehensive post to share how I afford to travel. Travel hacks are a huge part of how I travel so frequently, and this week I have recruited top travel experts from the travel blogging industry to divulge their travel hacking secrets!
Read on to find out these 9 travel bloggers’ biggest travel hacking secrets to getting ultra cheap and even FREE travel.
My best, off the beaten path hack is about getting your hotel room for the lowest rate. Like flights, the cost of a hotel room can fluctuate over time. No one wants to book a room for $200 and later realize that they could’ve had it for $140 and sometimes it pays to keep an eye on it.
A few years ago I was planning a trip to New York with a friend and booked a refundable room at the Pod Hotel. For some reason, weeks later, I was back on the hotel’s website and noticed that the rate had dropped by $60/night. Since we were staying for 6 nights I immediately contacted the hotel and they adjusted the price after I asked if they could or if I should just cancel my reservation and rebook it at the lower rate instead. We were travelling on a budget and so that $360 + tax was much better spent on Broadway tickets, MetroCards, and black & white cookies. Many hotels are now offering a discounted non-refundable option so you’ll have to weigh that discount with the possibility of the rate dropping but it’s something to keep in mind.
Melissa from SuitcaseAndHeels.com
FREE Flight with Credit Card Hacking:
Being a traveler, I have been a long time user and advocate of credit card travel reward programs. It is rare to see me purchasing with anything but one of my travel credit cards because what traveller doesn’t want to earn hugely discounted flights on everyday items they buy anyways?
In February 2017, after some thorough research, I took the plunge into checking out a new travel credit card. The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard, which has been named one of the best travel reward cards for Canadians! With this card you receive $250 introductory WestJet dollars, an annual $99 companion flight voucher, one free checked baggage per flight, travel insurance coverage and other exclusive offers such as access to over 850 MasterCard “Lounge Key” lounges world wide. The card’s annual fees run between $39-$119.
Within 3 months of receiving this rewards card, I was able to book a round-trip flight from Calgary, AB to Montego Bay, Jamaica for $416.00 with my WestJet dollars exclusively from this card!
The breakdown of my savings:
- Flight Cost: $871 Paid: $416
- Checked Baggage Cost: $50 Paid: $0
- Travel Insurance Cost: $30 Paid: $0
Total Savings: $535
My verdict: The WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard’s introductory bonus and accrual rates make it easy to earn multiple reduced flights each year. I am currently planning two more trips before the end of February 2018. The first trip being to Nashville to take advantage of my annual $99 companion voucher and the second to Hawaii to use my $322 WestJet dollars that have already accrued since June 2017.
Stephanie Dawn from DreaminginTurquoise.com
Related | How I Hacked a FREE Flight to Iceland
Home exchange is a great way to travel to different countries and stay there for free. The concept is really simple: you let other people stay in your house, while you go and stay in theirs. It probably seems crazy to some to let strangers into your home, but we’ve done over 10 exchanges and have only had good experiences. There are several websites where you can join the home exchange community.
A lot of the members have very luxurious houses, so if you are lucky you might end up staying at a place with a cool view, a giant swimming pool, a hot tub or right next to the ski lift. I am very grateful that I could stay in such amazing houses. Some members have a lot of flexibility with dates as they offer their second home for exchange. You basically get a home away from home. In most cases, you are welcome to use the exchange partner’s bikes, kayaks, surfboards, toys, TV and whatever they have available for you. Having a kitchen in the house can save you lots, as you can prepare your own meals instead of eating out every day. There is also the possibility to exchange cars, which could even save you on car rental. Home exchange requires trust, but once you try it you will get hooked! I can’t remember the last time I paid for accommodation!
Eniko from TravelHackerGirl.com
Maria from 203challenges.com
One of the best travel hacks I’ve found is pet sitting. Most reputable websites charge both the sitter and owners a small fee to enrol, which includes a small background check, and then leave you to do matchmaking. If you can, it’s best to try to do a couple of local sitting experiences in order to gain references on the site. After that, you’re more likely to be accepted into more luxurious homes in far flung places – from cabins tucked into snow capped Canadian mountains to chateaus flanked by fields of lavender in the south of France.
If you do decide to do pet sitting during your travels, it’s important to remember to take it seriously, though. While you aren’t paying to stay at the person’s home, you aren’t exactly staying there for free either. Taking care of their pet should be the priority of your stay, and your plans should include active communication with the owner. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll love exploring your new city like a local with a pup to take on your morning walk!
Rosalie from RosalieGoes.co
Cash Back Websites:
Accommodation is one of the biggest travel expenses, but you can easily save between 4 and 13% of the total bill by using cashback websites. It may not sound like a lot, but on a $250 hotel booking that could be a saving of nearly $33 – definitely worth it for the few minutes of work involved.
Hotel websites like booking.com and hotels.com usually pay other websites a commission in return for sending them customers. Instead of keeping all the commission, cashback websites like Topcashback (USA and UK), BeFrugal (US), and Quidco (UK) pass some of the money onto you. You can have the money paid directly into your account, or converted into vouchers for stores like Amazon. If you opt for vouchers, you typically get an additional bonus of between 2 and 10% of your cashback payout (sadly Amazon’s bonus is at the lower end of the scale).
Earning cashback is simple. Once you’ve chosen the hotel that you want to book, and the site that you want to book it through, simply log into your cashback account and search for the booking website. Next, click to visit the booking website and your visit will be tracked. You’ll then typically get an email within a day, informing you that your cashback is pending. After that it can take anything from a few days to a few months for your cashback to be eligible for payout.
Jemma from World Wide Shopping Guide
Last year I wanted to take a trip to Seattle to visit a friend, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to go because ticket prices were expensive. Thankfully, because of Skip Lagged, I was able to save $90 and take the trip! Skip Lagged is a free service that helps you find the lowest possible airfare by searching not only where you want to go, but any flights that have a connection in the city you want to go. They do all the research for you with the click of a button. You might here this referred to as ‘hidden city ticketing’ or ‘point beyond ticketing’.
For example, a flight from A to B might be $300, but a flight from A to C that stops in B is only $200. You book flight A to C to save money and just miss the connection from B to C. While this is not illegal, airlines don’t like this practice and it might violate their T&C, so I wouldn’t tell the airline attendant at check-in that you aren’t really going to the destination on your ticket, and I would buy a one-way fare.
Addie from TravlingMrs.com
Free Hotel with Credit Card Hacking
Applying for the Chase IHG credit card will give you 1 free night at an IHG hotel (InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc.) after spending $1000 in the first 3 months of opening the card, AND will give you Platinum status at IHG hotels. Here is the real hack: don’t waste your free night on a Holiday Inn stay – go BIG! I used mine to book a standard room at the InterContinental Moana in Bora Bora, and due to my platinum status I was upgraded to an over-water Bungalow for free ($700 value!) Traveling with someone? Have them sign up too for a total of 2 free nights!
Mona from Mona Corona
Book Cheap Flights with SkyScanner:
Have you ever wanted to spin a globe, close your eyes and travel to the place where your fingertip lands? Or maybe you have dreamed of showing up to an airport and flying to the destination with the cheapest ticket? Skyscanner is sort of like the virtual version of this, except I’m willing to bet it’s also way cheaper! I love Skyscanner because you have the ultimate flexibility to choose a destination based on your budget through the ‘everywhere’ tab and ‘Map’ search functions.
Bonus Tip: I always purchase my flights with a cash-back credit card and all money reimbursed from my purchases goes straight to my travel fund. In fact, I once got a FREE flight to Iceland by using a cash-back card and once got an $800 flight for $80. It’s one of the many ways I can afford to travel so much! (If you are interested in reading about all the ways I fund my travel, head on over to my comprehensive article about how I afford to travel as a PhD student).
Steph from The Pink Backpack (Of course I’m going to include a travel hack of my own!)
Whats your favourite travel hack?
Let me know in the comments below!
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