August is just around the corner. And many of us are still planning our summer getaways and family vacations. Yep, we have the time off and the kids are out of school but _____________ (fill in the blank).
Planning a trip can be a challenge. Especially when you have little time to do it.
Just the other day my girlfriend told me she hasn’t planned anything for her family vacation. And it’s two weeks away. They’re going to Busch Gardens, so I shared some great money saving tips. And boy was she happy!
After all, nothing beats a great vacation for an unbelievable price. Everyone loves a good deal.
Now here are 7 ways to save on hotel stays and car rentals:
- Click Around and Save– To find the best deal, you’ve gotta shop around. Use the Internet to save time and money. Start with the travel websites (e.g. Kayak.com, TripAdvisor.com, Priceline.com) and compare their prices to the company’s (hotel/rental car) website. You might be surprised by who is the lowest.
- Use Travel Points – How does FREE sound to you? Well, check your rewards programs to see if you have enough points to stay or rent for free or less.
- Don’t Forget Your Discount – Sometimes we book travel without thinking about discounts we already have. For example, you may qualify for school, employer, wholesale club (e.g. Costco), motor club (e.g. AAA), credit card and other organizations (AARP) discounts.
- Last Minute Travel Deals – Look for last minute travel deals online. Believe it or not, they’re out there. And they can save you big money. The only catch is that you normally have to enter the special promotion code/coupon code to get them. That’s easy!
- Lock-in Low Rates Now – Have you ever found yourself saying “I wish I would have booked that hotel earlier, now it’s ridiculous”? Or even worse it’s not available. I know I have. Save the frustration! Book reasonably priced hotels and rental cars in advance, provided you can cancel your reservation within a reasonable timeframe (e.g. 48 hours) without a penalty.
- Read the Fine Print First – Always read the terms before you book. Don’t let the low price fool you. Beware of best rates that have hefty terms like pay now, no cancellation and no changes. Period.
For example, I found a room for $189/night online. And that same room was offered at a lower $151/night. But the cheapest rate was non-refundable and I had to pay in advance. So I couldn’t cancel or make any reservation changes. In other words, if I didn’t stay on that night — I lost my money.
- Rebook for Less – Travel prices change. That’s why some websites give you money back when the price drops. Rebooking yourself keeps more money in your pocket.
For example, I saved close to $200 on my last car rental:
- On June 27th I booked a fullsize car for $352.83.
- I rebooked my reservation on July 3rd for a premium car (free upgrade!) for $233.67.
- Then on July 17th I rebooked it again and got a fullsize car for $153.45.
It only took me a few minutes to compare rates. And every reservation was for the same time period and pickup/drop off locations. So less than 10 minutes saved me over 50%.
TIP: When you rebook, don’t forget to cancel your other reservation.
Do you have any other strategies to save on hotels and rental cars?