Top 50 Money-Saving Travel Tips of 2014

1. Ticket prices may be lower on budget airlines, such as Spirit and Frontier, but expect fees for just about everything.

2. Connect to travel companies' social media channels for a heads-up on impending sales.

3. Don't fret if find a better deal or realize you made a mistake after booking a plane ticket. Federal law mandates that airlines allow a 24-hour window to cancel reservations without a fee.

4. When you book air travel through CheapAir, the site's Price Drop Payback program refunds up to $100 (in credit) if the ticket price drops.

5. For the best airfares, check airlines' websites directly and/or use inclusive aggregators such as SkyScanner, which posts prices for nearly all airlines.

6. Some travel credit cards, such as Amex Platinum, Citi Expedia+, and Visa Signature cards, refund travel-related expenses, such as the costs associated with lost or stolen luggage on a trip paid for with the card, but they generally impose hefty annual fees.

PreviousNext

7. Book flights during off-peak times and days, even over a holiday. Fares are usually cheapest in the early morning; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; and on the holiday itself.

8. Sign up for alerts on Airfarewatchdog and keep an eye on The Flight Deal to find cheap flights.

9. Two one-way flights often cost the same as or less than a round-trip fare. Booking flights with two different airlines or through a secondary airport may save even more.

10. Even if you don't fly a particular airline often, you may as well sign up for the free frequent flyer program and start accumulating miles or points with that carrier. The miles may also apply on a partner airline.

11. Associated credit cards earn frequent flyers points or miles on everyday expenses, in addition to perks such as a free checked bag for the cardholder and a travel companion. Just be sure you don't carry a balance.

12. Some budget airlines charge baggage fees even for carry-ons -- as much as $100 at the gate. But passengers can usually save by paying in advance (i.e., before arriving at the airport).
PreviousNext

13. Avoid airline fees for large and heavy checked bags by sending items in the mail or putting them in a second bag. Second-bag fees are often cheaper than overweight fees.

14. Save on baggage fees by wearing bulky clothing and boots (or even a Jak To Go "luggage jacket," which lets you walk some items into the airport and onto the plane).

15. Call the airline with questions and then book online to avoid ticketing fees for over-the-phone service.

16. Bring along mini bottles of your favorite alcoholic beverage rather than buying booze on board. Pack snacks for everyone instead of shelling out for airplane food and bring an empty water bottle to fill after you've passed through security.

17. When traveling with a baby, bring more diapers and wipes than you think you'll need and pack them in easy-to-reach places. With older children, fill a carry-on with a spare change of clothing for everyone. Spills (or worse) happen and luggage can get lost or delayed, and buying replacements is costly.

18. Buses are money-saving travel alternatives. Check prices with Wanderu or Bus Tripping before buying tickets.

PreviousNext

19. The travel app Hotel Tonight finds last-minute lodging at discounted prices. It lists availability up to one week in advance.

20. Look for a hotel chain that offers one night free when booking a stay of three nights or more, or family-friendly promotions such as special rates or free meals for kids.

21. Many hotels offer fully refundable rooms, so you can cancel and rebook if you find a cheaper rate. Yapta tracks the cost of hotels (also flights and rental cars) booked through its portal and alerts users to price drops.

22. Always check for discount codes on hotel sites and at third-party sites such as Orbitz before paying for hotel rooms online.

23. Save by using a rewards portal such as Ebates or Mr. Rebates. The former offers 2.5 percent cash back on select Hyatt reservations and up to 6.5 percent cash back on Orbitz bookings.

24. Discount rates with AAA membership apply at many hotel chains. The money saved may more than offset membership fees.
PreviousNext

25. Rather than book through an online aggregator such as Priceline, call the hotel directly and ask the manager to beat the price.

26. Check Better Bidding or Bidding Traveler for advice on how, and how much, to bid when booking through the name-your-price options at Priceline and Hotwire.

27. Look at hotels outside the city center, which usually post lower prices and are often convenient to public transportation.

28. Splitting the cost of a hotel room with friends or family saves everyone money. (Hotel cot rentals usually come at reasonable nightly rates.) Likewise, renting a large house pushes the per-person cost way down for large groups.

29. Hotel chains feature loyalty programs that extend perks, sometimes just for joining. Many let members earn frequent flyer miles instead of hotel points, or a combination of the two.

30. Avoid paying high parking fees at hotels by stowing the car in a nearby public lot or leaving it on the street (if staying in a safe area).

PreviousNext

31. Save money on meals by lodging somewhere with a kitchen. Search Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO for a room, apartment, or house. Then make money by listing your own place on one of these sites. (First check local laws, because some cities restrict this business activity.)

32. Consider arranging a money-saving house swap. Sites such as Home Exchange and 3rd Home help facilitate such deals.

33. Hostels may be known for rowdy dorm rooms, but frugal travelers can also take advantage of private rooms (often with shared bathrooms) that cost less than conventional hotel rooms.

34. Look for discount codes before booking a rental car. Sites such as Zalyn and Car Rental Saver and membership in AAA and AARP, as well as at Costco, are routes to discounted car rental rates.

35. Local car rental companies and those that are big overseas but less familiar here, such as Sixt, may charge lower rates than the big-name brands. Keep in mind that fees at rental car locations closest to airports may be higher than others farther away.

36. Book a rental car in advance and keep checking rates. Cancel and rebook if the price drops.

PreviousNext

37. Rental car rates aren't set in stone. Try asking for a discounted price in exchange for buying the optional insurance. But opt out of the rental company's collision damage waiver if your credit card covers this.

38. Sign up for the rental car company's rewards program to qualify for perks such as a fee waiver for a second driver.

39. Rent someone else's car through Relay Rides, the equivalent of Airbnb for cars, when traveling and list your car with the service to earn some money.

40. Use Flight Car to "earn" free airport parking and make extra money by renting your car from the airport parking lot while you're gone.

41. Gain access to a car while traveling through car-share programs such as Zipcar and Hertz 24/7.

42. Special travel health insurance may be advisable for foreign sojourns. Some credit cards include travel accident insurance and some, such as World MasterCard, come with free medical and legal referral services.
PreviousNext

43. While traveling abroad, be sure to use a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee, which usually amounts to 2 or 3 percent on all purchases.

44. Open a bank or brokerage account such as the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account, which refunds ATM fees internationally.

45. Invest in a cheap mobile hotspot to take on your travels. In some countries travelers can rent and return mobile hotspots in airports.

46. Make inexpensive calls home on Wi-Fi with a $2.99 monthly plan from Skype and stay connected with cheap or free messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp.

47. Daily deal sites such as Groupon are an international trend, so find the local variants. Look for guides to free or cheap things to do when visiting a new city.

48. When taking a cab in a foreign locale -- or anywhere without a metered rate -- negotiate the fare before getting into the vehicle.

PreviousNext

49. Head for one of the cheap ski slopes that dot the U.S. Save money with package deals at Ski.com and discounted lift tickets at Liftopia. Rent equipment from a local outdoor store.

50. Volunteer vacations provide valuable experiences in exotic locations. Through organizations such as WWOOF, travelers can work in exchange for food and lodging.