You are planning a trip. You make a budget for the flight, hotel, taxes and fees, and even activities and food, and you have even set aside extras for a nice meal or a splurge. You are ready to go.
After your trip, you realize you are in the red. You have, somehow, managed to exceed your budget. How did this happen?
Other than exciting things popping up (which happens to everything and is to be expected on a trip or vacation), it could be that you forgot the small things. The expenditures you sometimes forget on the front end, but that can add up quite quickly when you go back through your credit card statement. Here are some ways to avoid and minimize some of those “extras.”
This is one people sometimes don’t think about until the last possible minute. You are getting to the airport, but where are you parking? How much are those lots the day before or even the day of?
I used to be someone who paid $18 a day for far-away parking at LAX. Then one day I discovered this not-so-hidden gem. This little gift. It was CheapAirportParking.org. This is a dream! By using this site, you are able to reserve your parking ahead of time at great discounts. So a lot that would normally cost more, or even hotel parking which is typically $30 a day near LAX, for example, can be as low as $10 a day if you make a reservation in advance. All you have to do is go on, enter your dates and times, and choose your parking lot or hotel based on price. Make sure to print your reservation and you are good to go.
And this site is not just good for LAX. I actually discovered it looking for parking for Burbank airport, but it services a bunch of other locations such as: Atlanta, Chicago (O’Hare), Ft. Lauderdale, NYC area airports, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Richmond, and more. BONUS TIP: Go to RetailMeNot.com and look for a coupon code. Right now the code ‘CHEAPISM’ will get you an additional $5 off your parking reservation with no minimum.
And if you want to avoid parking altogether, check into various Park and Fly options. These are often buses that have various pickup points throughout a city and offer even less expensive transportation to the airport.
It amazes me how many people still—in 2015—still don’t know that baggage fees exist. How is that possible? Let’s face it, folks; bag fees are here to stay. The airlines make wayyyyy too much money on them to get rid of them. But there are a couple of ways you can avoid them.
The easiest option is to fly airlines that don’t have bag fees. Enter Southwest Airlines. But also, depending on where you are traveling, the first bag may be free on most airlines. For example, if you are traveling from the State to Europe, many airlines give you the first bag free. But for consistent, domestic, free baggage, Southwest is the way to go. (Even though you could just pack a carry-on, but that won’t save you on airlines like Spirit Airlines).
The second option is to get a credit card that has free baggage perks (like I talked about here), and to purchase your ticket on that card. Remember, having the card isn’t enough. You have to actually book the ticket on that card. And the third option takes some reading the fine print. Some discount carriers offer ‘cheaper’ checked bag (or carry-on bag) fees if you purchase the checked bag ahead of time. Be sure to read your airline’s baggage policy to see if there are ways to cut back on the costs of baggage.
Upgrades can be a hidden treasure. Not only do you get a more relaxing experience in first or business class, but it can include other costs. If you have the miles to do so, upgrading can save you on other areas. For miles and a small copay, or sometimes they have same day upgrades available for a fee on certain flights based on availability. And many of those flights offer, as a perk for buying the upgrade, free checked bags, alcoholic drinks, and obviously some sort of meal. Given that bag fees can cost around $60 for two checked bags on many airlines, this could end up being a win-win situation. You get added comfort of first class while saving on bag fees and that in-flight cocktail. Score.
Adult beverages can get quite costly. So if you are driving to your destination, there is no reason that you should not BYOB. But even if you are flying, and you have a free checked bag, it may be worth it to bring your favorite drink or even check the little mini bottles for your convenience and savings. And it doesn’t hurt to ask hotels if they have drink coupons good for usage by the pool or at the lobby bar.
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