How I’m Saving $1,500+ on Travel

23 May

I love me some travel. In fact, now that I’ve changed my relationship with things, most of my big spending is on travel. Still, given how quickly travel costs can spiral out of control, it’s important to find ways to save money on my plans.

Planning travel is almost as fun as the trip itself, and I typically have all my vacation days spoken for within the first few months of the year.

I’m no travel or credit card hacker since I’m all about hassle-free savings around here, but I give props to those who hack the system and travel around the world for mere pennies. Instead, I find relatively simple ways to save money through discounts, rewards and a few travel alternatives.

Me and Mom at Valley Forge a few years back. Cherry Creek is a bit less historical.

Mother’s Day Weekend in Cherry Creek

Booking with discounts: I’m a recent AAA member and am trying to use as many perks as I can. My Mother’s Day gift to my mom this year was a weekend in Cherry Creek, and I booked us a stay at a Hyatt near the neighborhood.

Total savings: $20

Not groundbreaking, I know, but I booked it last minute and was happy to find something near a ritzy part of Denver for less than $200.


Memorial Day Weekend in Silver City

My husband and I are road tripping to his hometown for Memorial Day weekend. It’s a small town in southwestern New Mexico, so flying there doesn’t make sense from a time or cost perspective. Still, driving is a lot less expensive than booking airfare and a rental car, something we’ve actually done once.

Total savings: $624 (two flights @ $267 each + $280 rental car for 6 days, minus $150 cost of fuel + $40 car maintenance)

I’m not including wear and tear on my car because a) I have no earthly idea how to calculate that and b) I figure the maintenance I paid for before our trip is a reasonable substitute. Plus, the calculation above was exhausting enough.

Mission Inn at Riverside. My parents were married here in 1970.

Cali Family Reunion in July

Track itinerary: Southwest is my preferred airline for several reasons, including the ability to receive credit toward future travel when booked airfare drops in price. The flight from Denver to Ontario originally cost about $288, but I dropped it to around $251 with credits from previous flights. Just this morning, I noticed my outbound flight was priced at $14 cheaper, so I rebooked and now have that $14 to use toward a future fare.

Take a shuttle: I live about an hour from DIA, so driving there is no small task, especially on congested I-25. A local shuttle service will drop me off for $28, which saves me on fuel costs and parking. My husband will likely pick me up from the airport when I return.

Total savings: $93 (Previous flight credits + parking savings + recent flight credit +  fuel cost, sans shuttle fee)

Not Boston or Salem. But I hope we see fall colors like these from Charles City, IA!

Fall Bestie Trip to Boston & Salem

Redeeming rewards: I’m using airline and credit card rewards to offset some of my travel spending this year. During the process of booking my return flight from Boston, I realized I had enough Rapid Rewards points to cover the fare.

I also covered the deposit for the hotel we booked in Salem with credit card reward points.

Using my feet: We’re not renting a car in Boston. I hear traffic is horrible and my friend booked us a hotel room in the city so it’s within walking distance to everywhere we want to be. Was it more expensive than a hotel off the beaten path? Sure, but I think we still come out ahead money-wise, and we definitely come out ahead stress and time-wise! Plus, we can take the free Silver Line via MBTA from the airport to our hotel, AND we avoid parking and valet fees, the latter of which runs about $50 daily, sans the tip. And you know how I feel about tipping.

Total savings: $940 ($132 outbound flight + $265 Salem hotel deposit + $486 car rental + $102 valet, sans $45 RT ferry between Boston Harbor and Salem)

Based on these very rough estimates and exceedingly poor math skills, I’m saving a total of $1,677 on travel this year.

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