But there are ways you can stretch your dollar besides having to cut corners! Here are some of our favorite, and most time-tested, tricks.
Be flexible with flights
Like we’ve mentioned before, it can pay to be flexible. No one wants to be driving to the airport before sunrise or lunching through a layover, but you can save big if you have a little leeway with your flights. If you want to have more money to spend on your actual vacation, and you don’t mind being slightly inconvenienced, consider taking advantage of lower-priced mid-week flights, connections, or less-than-ideal take-off times (think very late or very, very early). The difference between a Friday afternoon flight, and one on a Wednesday at 2:00am, can be substantial. And speaking of flexibility…
Travel in the off season
If your vacation days aren’t set in stone, you can take advantage of traveling during the off-season. Different destinations fill up at different times, so think family destinations like Walt Disney World® during the school year, the months just before of just after the Caribbean's winter high season, and either cold-weather destinations during the winter or warm-weather destinations in summer. Plus, this way you’ll also enjoy the added benefit of fewer crowds – which can also mean a better choice of hotel rooms, lower wait times for attractions and restaurants, and even better seats on flights (see you later, dreaded middle seat!).
Rack up those frequent flyer miles – and use them
For every die-hard frequent flier, there are probably two people with miles they’ll never cash in just languishing away in forgotten accounts. You don’t have to dedicate your life to stalking the frequent flier blogs – of which there are thousands – but with a few tweaks you can easily accumulate enough to make a substantial dent in your air costs.
There are a lot of ways to rack up frequent flyer miles; the key is to find a system that works for you. Eat out all the time? Look for an airline that will give you miles in exchange for dining at one of their preferred restaurants. Have a good-sized bill you pay in full every month? A lot of carriers have branded credit cards that will give you thousands of miles just for signing up, with additional miles for every dollar spent. Consider charging your reoccurring payments and then paying your credit card bill instead.
Favorite hotel? Use their loyalty program
Is there a specific hotel that you absolutely love staying at? Then you should definitely be taking advantage of their loyalty program. Most major hotels, including Hyatt and Fairmont, have rewards programs that let their repeat guests rack up points for every time they stay at, or sometimes even dine in, one of their properties. Even if you only stay a few times a year, you can earn things like room upgrades, discounts on spa treatments, and complimentary extras like two-for-one golf. They’re also often easier to cash in than frequent flier miles, and have fewer restrictions and black-out dates.
Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade
Complimentary upgrades are another way to get more for your dollar. Hotels will often offer things like free room upgrades when you book a certain number of nights – ask your Consultant if there are any deals available that you can take advantage of. You can also consider booking at a myTime hotel, which automatically grants guest access to money-saving extras like spa credits and complimentary hotel transfers (not to mention things like reserved pool cabanas and private check-in) just by booking through a Liberty Travel Consultant.
Taking advantage of any – or all – of these tricks can save you hundreds and, more importantly, let you concentrate on having the best vacation possible.
By Megan Ranney