This past week Mr. S and I were talking about heading to New York City for a couple of nights. When we lived in New England it was a 3 hour drive. Now that we’re in Florida going to the city means plane fare, Uber or cab from the airport, hotels, theater tickets, food, etc. I sat down and estimated what those 3-days in NY would cost us and I had shell shock. I’m used to hopping on a cruise ship for a last minute cruise (3-days – under $200 each) or taking a road trip to the Keys. This little trip could potentially set us back $2500.
Time to look for ways to cut costs and transportation is a BIG part of the budget.
- Save $$$ on tickets
You can save a lot of money on airline tickets if you’re flexible with your travel dates. A day or two earlier or later can make a huge difference in the cost. On some airlines (like Southwest) Tuesdays through Thursdays can be the cheapest days to fly.
- Consider alternate airports
Sometimes, flying into a different airport can save hundreds of dollars per ticket per flight. Larger cities typically have multiple airports. Because we’re going into the city, I have the choice between JFK, LaGuardia and Newark (luckily I can fly out of either West Palm Beach or Orlando from home).
- Consider travel to and from the airport as well
Try to save money getting to and from the airport. If you take your car, you will need to pay for parking at the long-term car park. There might be cheap transportation to and from the airport, like those airport shuttles although it might be cheaper and less hassle to take your car if you have a lot of people and/or a lot of luggage. I know that in Orlando the off-site parking lots for the airport can be as inexpensive as $3 per day, while economy at the airport is $10 per day.
- Take a carry-on only
Airlines can charge a small fortune these days for checked baggage. Pack each carry on for each family member carefully for maximum usefulness in the minimum amount of space. If you’d like to learn how I get a week’s worth of clothes into a carry-on, there are a few posts and videos that I’ve created.
- Watch out for those fuel surcharges and airport taxes
These should usually be included in the price of the ticket, but if you are booking online, that “cheap fare” might actually end up giving you sticker shock when you get to the checkout screen.
- Book packages if possible
A flight, hotel and car rental for one inclusive price can be a good deal. I love looking over sites like Travelzoo to see what packages are available on the cheap.
- Miles, Miles & more Miles
Air miles can all add up to a big savings on your next vacation as long as there are no high fees for booking. Charges will usually be highest for last-minute travel, such as less than two weeks prior to departure. While I have a favorite airline for collectiving points, I make sure to sign up with EVERY airline that I travel.
- Fly off season
Avoid flying at the height of the holiday and summer. Try spring and fall getaways instead.
Going by Car
- Make sure you have the car serviced before you go – oil change, tire rotation, belts & hoses checked and radiator fluid are essential.
You don’t want to end up with breakdowns and/or any costly repairs on the road.
- Check the tires, especially in warm and cold weather
The state of the tires can have a significant impact on fuel mileage.
- Look for good gas prices
If you have more than one option, shop around. There are apps available on your mobile phone to help you find them while you’re on the road.
- Pay cash for your gas
This can save you around 10 cents a gallon because so many gas stations these days are passing along the credit card company charges to the customer.
13. Use a gas station or credit card that gives cash back on gas purchases
I use my Sam’s Club card for gas for 5% back each year or a Cumberland Farms card that gives me .10 off each gallon.
14. Go all-inclusive
Consider an all-inclusive coach holiday, especially if you are not fond of driving. They can be very cost-effective and offer sightseeing to top locations. I see them advertised in the travel section of the Sunday paper all the time
15. Get a bus pass
These are popular in Europe and other locations where people like to see the sights by bus. You could get a pass offering unlimited travel for 7 days, for example. Compare the price of the pass with the individual prices of the tickets between all the destinations you want to visit.
16. Train passes
As with bus passes, these can be a really cheap way to see Europe and the rest of the world. Note that some train systems will have first, second and perhaps even third-class options. The latter should be the cheapest, and reasonably clean and comfortable in most cases.
17. Metros and Subways
These can be a cheaper mode of transportation and some run state to state. I used to take the commuter rail from Providence to Boston and New Haven to NYC for CHEAP.
18. Book a cheap cruise
A cruise is your transportation and hotel all rolled into one. All you have to do is unpack once and relax. Before booking, check out each destination carefully to make sure there will be enough to do. Some will stop at interesting destinations, while others will spend most of their time off the shore of their own company-owned island for people to do water sports and other activities.
Look for last-minute deals and packages if you don’t live at a cruise shop port of call and have to fly to get to your ship. I’ve gotten 3-day cruise deals as low as $149 for each of us (plus taxes and tips).
Planes, Buses and Trains
19. Consider group travel
Traveling with a group, usually 4 to 10 people, can really cut down on expenses. Larger groups can get the best rates if they plan ahead.