The Tipping List
The Pennywise Traveler
Tips to travel the world at a fraction of the cost
By: Michele Davis
Now that I have the time and the means to take around-the-world vacations, I’ve stumbled across ways to save money without sacrificing my valued travel experience. To save some hard-earned bucks, I do my own research, plan and book my own itinerary. Time intensive, yes, but the satisfaction of budgeting well and having my own customized experience is worth it!
Getting There and Back:
- Airline Miles – Sign up for a mileage account with your preferred airline. If you’re doing any airline travel at all, find an airline that you like or is convenient for you, and register for a free account to collect miles when you purchase and use a ticket.
- Mileage Credit Cards – If you really want to rack up the miles quickly, invest in a credit card that accrues miles for dollars spent. Many of these credit cards have an annual fee, but if you use them to your advantage, the mileage “bank” account will more than make up for it. I have mileage accounts and credit cards with two major airlines that have great partnerships with other airlines. Other than small transactions, I pretty much put everything on my credit card to rack up miles. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can ring up 10,000 miles, especially if the card has a special incentive for double or triple miles on purchases. Caveat: You have to be comfortable with your money management skills for this approach because paying finance charges to get miles defeats the purpose. If you pay off your credit cards each month, why not get the miles for things that you’d normally pay for out of your checking account?
- Airline-Direct Deals – Of course there are lots of Web sites that list the lowest prices available, oftentimes with restrictions. Don’t forget to go direct to the source-the airline. When I went to Australia a few years back, Qantas offered the Aussie AirPass, an attractive package where I could purchase my transoceanic flight along with three intra-country legs for a reasonable, set price.
- Flexible Routing – Having a hard time using up those frequent flier (FF) miles you’ve spent years building up? Plan ahead and you can usually get travel dates you are looking for. Many of the airlines start booking their FF seats just under a year in advance. Also, keep an eye on new routes added to an airline schedule. Within a few months of a trip, I was able to book FF tickets to Prague via Atlanta soon after they announced the new leg would be added. Traveling on an open jaw itinerary helps as well. If you can fly into one airport and out of another airport, sometimes you can secure desirable travel dates, and in some cases, save yourself time traveling back to your departure location just to catch a flight home.